The Improv

Circa 2004. GWAR and TYSON are two fellows in their mid-twenties. Both are a little overweight and exactly six feet tall. Both have served full-time missions for their Church. GWAR’s mission was cut short after about sixteen months while TYSON completed the two years.

This film begins as they attempt to re-live their pre-mission days of waterballooning. TYSON is in the front seat of GWAR’s 1987 Honda Prelude. They developed this practice of targeting both pedestrians and other cars on the streets of Poway, California around 1998-1999. Back then, there were more participants in the suspect car- typically three or four. Notably absent on this day is DAN, who was The Driver. DAN could drive and toss balloons with remarkable accuracy. TYSON’s marksmanship from the passenger seat was also legendary. At this point in their lives DAN, who has also served a mission, is married to a woman who is expecting their first child. As a result, GWAR defaults to the driver position on this day. GWAR is not a good water balloon driver. He was never even a great tosser of balloons. At best he got the Spirit Award. He once hit the inside of DAN’s car in a spasmodic thrust toward the window.

It might be obvious, but it should be noted that GWAR and THOMAS are the same person in this story.

THE IMPROV

By Aaron Kingsbury Litchfield

INTERIOR, NIGHT- CAR

TYSON
Dude, What are you doing!? What in the world are you doing!? Why do you slow down? Every time, Thomas! You don’t need to slow down! It messes up my timing!

GWAR
Sorry! I’m not used to driving.

TYSON
Dan could really drive. He never slowed down. You DON’T slow down.

GWAR
I know. Shut up. We shouldn’t be doing this anyway. We can’t get arrested for throwing water balloons. What if we get caught doing this? We can’t get caught doing this. We’re too old.

TYSON (nefariously)
We never got caught before, Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar.

THOMAS S PRESTON ESQUIRE S GWAR
That’s cuz Dan used to drive.

TYSON
Dan could drive that car like a champ Thomas!

THOMAS S PRESTON ESQUIRE S GWAR
Yeah, and he’s married now. With child.

Later on GWAR and TYSON are driving down Garnett Ave in Pacific Beach. They have quit throwing water balloons at cars and pedestrians. Garnett Avenue is where MTV used to go to cast lotharios in their shows The Real World and MTV’s Beach House. TYSON and GWAR’s drive down Garnett Avenue, with its myriad bars that specialize in Birthday Cake shots and Irish Car Bombs, is very observational in nature.

TYSON
Thomas, it’s your turn now.

THOMAS S PRESTON ESQUIRE S GWAR
No.

TYSON (building enthusiasm, in a devious manner)
C’mooooooon, Thomas!

GWAR
No, It’s not funny. I don’t know why it’s funny.

TYSON
Thomas…

GWAR
(rolling down the window) I hate you.

TYSON
YESSSSS THOMAS!

GWAR leans his head out the window as they pass a group of popped-collard, puka-shelled-necklace-wearing brutes with a couple of thin, loud-talking females. He yells out a startlingly loud and abrupt- HEY! This results in a young mini-skirted girl nearly falling to the ground. The group mostly laughs, though a couple of the big males affect an angry disposition.

TYSON
Good job Thomas!

GWAR (excitedly)
Oh Oh Oh Oh, get that group right there!

TYSON rolls down his window and yells with a remarkable amount of mocked vigor-

TYSON
PARTYYYYYYYY! WHOOOOOOO YEAH! PAR-TAY! OWWW!

The crowd hollers back uproariously. If they are aware of the irony, they aren’t offended. Though it’s safe to say they aren’t aware.

CUT TO- DRIVING HOME

GWAR
That’s the most fun I’ve ever had on Garnett Avenue.

TYSON
Whaaaat? Better than all the bars? The beers? Thomassssss? Thomas S?

GWAR
Yeah I guess. I mean, the beers helped me in the beginning. I don’t think I would ever have gotten Emi fall in love with me if I never had a drink. She would have dismissed me as awkward and intense like all the girls before her.

TYSON(with caricatured zeal)
You didn’t need beer to talk to ME, I love you for who you are Thomas!

GWAR
Alcohol lowers inhibitions, and you never had any. You don’t need it. It’s weird to think what you’d be like drunk. Don’t ever drink.

TYSON(still with the exaggerated zeal)
I wouldn’t be your guiding light if I did, now would I Thomas?

END SCENE

A few days later GWAR walks into TYSON’s house. TYSON’s mother, in the kitchen to the left, sees Gwar walk in without knocking. He immediately turns right and walks toward Tyson’s room.  When he gets there, he finds that the door is locked. He leans in and hears that TYSON is in the shower. Through the door GWAR also hears Weezer’s Green album playing. He smiles at this. He knocks, knowing Tyson won’t hear, and knowing that even if he did hear, he wouldn’t end his shower early. GWAR curses himself. He turns around to look down the hall. He can see TYSON’s mom, wearing an apron in the kitchen. GWAR paces in the hall awkwardly before walking to the foyer to sit in a chair by the front door. After less than a minute, he gets up and walks back toward TYSON’s room. He leans in and hears TYSON still in the shower. He tries knocking again to no avail. He walks out to the foyer and stalls a bit trying to decide what to do.  Finally he walks to the kitchen.

INTERIOR, DAY- THE YOUNG’S HOUSE.

GWAR
Hi Sister Young.

TYSON’S MOM
Hello Gwar.

THOMAS(reaching into a cabinet for a glass)
What’s happening?

There is no glass, so he walks across to another cabinet where he finds one. He opens the fridge and pours himself lemonade.

TYSON’S MOM
Still don’t know where the glasses are?

GWAR
Sure I do. How are things?

TYSON’S MOM
Oh, busy. Denise and Darren are coming in a couple of weeks and I’m trying to clean up before they get here.

GWAR
Well that’s cool.

TYSON’S MOM
How are things with you?

THOMAS
Oh, fine I guess. Up to no good, you know. Same old.

TYSON’S MOM
That’s nice Gwar.

GWAR
Yup.

TYSON’S MOM
So what are you two up to today?

GWAR
Tyson and I are carpooling to college.

TYSON’S MOM
No kidding? Well that’s wonderful.

GWAR
Sure is. Tyson didn’t tell you?

TYSON’S MOM
He never tells me anything… you know, I saw your mother at Costco yesterday.

GWAR
Oh really? How is Meg Ryan?

TYSON’S MOM
She seemed fine. We talked about you boys…

GWAR
Yeah? What about?

TYSON’S MOM(sheepishly)
Well…I don’t think I should say.

THOMAS
I’m sure it was about just how proud of us you are and how great we are for each other. Tyson and I. Yeah, no need to tell me! Speaking of, I need to get that guy going. We’re gonna be late!

TYSON’S MOM
Bye Gwar.

TYSON (wearing a towel, at the entrance to his room)
Well if it isn’t a Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar!

GWAR (hushed)
That’s me. Hey man, I wish you wouldn’t lock the door. I walked into the house without knocking, thinking I’d just slide to your room but of course you have to lock your bedroom door. Why? I’m not gonna go into your bathroom and interrupt your shower routine. I know you lock that door too, you weirdo. Anyway, I bumped into your mom and I know she’s mad that I didn’t knock. We had a little chat.

TYSON (loudly, across the house)
Mom, have a nice talk with Thomas?

TYSON’S MOM (from the kitchen)
Yes Tyson- you know, Gwar doesn’t mind me.

THOMAS (still at the doorway)
Just let me in man. What does she mean? She doesn’t mind me?  Like I don’t have a problem with her?

TYSON
No like, you don’t mind her, like acknowledge her, or respect her, by just walking through the door of her house without knocking. Gwar the genius writer over here. A regular Bill Shakespeare.

THOMAS
Well, shucks. I don’t mean anything. I love your fam. You know I always wanted to be a Young.

TYSON (with an exaggerated smile, pats GWAR on the shoulder)
I know you do Tom.

GWAR (entering the room and closing the door)
Do you have a shirt I can wear? (tugs his belly) I hate this one.

TYSON holds the towel with one hand on his hip and opens his sliding glass closet door with the other. He stares into a vast, colorful closet.

TYSON
Ahhhhhh, what can I get for a Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar? (resting his now free hand on his other hip)

GWAR(grabbing a t-shirt that says THE FIRM)
Remember when I wore this to your old man’s office? When we visited him at the firm?

TYSON
Sure do Tom.

GWAR
That was somethin’ else. I wrote about it. Anyway, I got us an appointment to tryout for an improv place in Los Angeles.

TYSON(sighing)
What? Are you serious? When?

GWAR
Thursday. We’ll leave at noon, right after your oceanography class. We don’t have to be there until four.

TYSON (sighing again)
I don’t know if my liege will be OK with it Gwar.

GWAR
She’s fine with it dude.

TYSON(sighs again)
You asked her? Oh Tommy. Tommy Tommy Tommy. What are we gonna do with you?

END SCENE

EXTERIOR, DAY- JR COLLEGE PARKING LOT.

GWAR walks toward TYSON’s boxy new Scion. Someone is playing an electric guitar plugged into a miniature amplifier. GWAR knocks on the car window.  TYSON is disgustedly clearing the passenger seat for Gwar.  Without looking up, he unlocks the door and GWAR enters the car.

GWAR
What do you think about that guy over there, playing guitar?

TYSON still hasn’t made eye contact with GWAR. he’s picking up half-full water bottles and throwing them into the back seat

TYSON
I think it’s the gayest thing in the world and you do too. So don’t ask me.

GWAR
Are you excited?

TYSON(He still hasn’t looked at Gwar)
Sure Tom. (picks up a water bottle and holds it in front of Gwar’s face) How many millilitres did she drink out of this one? Riddle me that, Tom.

GWAR
I don’t have an answer for you man.

CUT TO- DRIVING

GWAR
Hey, you know how the Terminator asks little John Connor why he cries? (in a very mediocre Arnold Schwarzenegger accent GWAR utters) Why do you cry?

TYSON
Yeah, sure.

GWAR
Well, what if he was like Why do you fart? and Why do you laugh, when you fart?

TYSON (not missing a beat, in a perfect 13-yr-old Edward Furlong voice)
You know, cuz it’s funny.

GWAR
Yeah, Yeah, exactly. That would be a funny skit or whatever, like on Saturday Night Live.

TYSON
Sure it would Tom.

GWAR
Hey, also, when we’re up on stage, you gotta do Chris Farley auditioning for the part of Sam from Lord of the Rings. You know “Master Frodo…”

TYSON
Whatever you say Gwar.

GWAR
Anyway, that guitar player’s shirt told me to listen to Bob Marley and his hat told me to party naked.

TYSON(sighing)
I told you I don’t want to talk about him.

GWAR
Alright alright, you know how to get there? Just drive up The Five for like an hour then I’ll tell you where to go from there.

With resonant disgust for the fellow in the parking lot, TYSON intently scrolls through his Ipod looking for a more obscure Talking Heads song. After his selection, GWAR picks up the Ipod and changes it to Road to Nowhere. Tyson’s look implies that GWAR needs to move on past Talking Heads’s radio songs.  If GWAR was directing this film he might show TYSON and GWAR eating at In & Out burger as Road To Nowhere plays. TYSON is truly happy as he takes his first bite into a Double Double. Under GWAR’s direction, he’d perhaps show TYSON’s road rage. He’d show some exteriors of the drive from San Diego to LA. The ocean. The immigration check-point. The signs that caution families crossing the freeway. He’d show Gwar opening TYSON’s glove compartment, show a bunch of things falling out of the glove compartment and show TYSON’s irritation of the whole thing.

EXTERIOR, DAY- VENTURA BOULEVARD.

TYSON and GWAR pull up to a tiny, street-front improv place.

GWAR
We have almost an hour. Lets walk around for a while.

TYSON and GWAR walk down the street and quickly enter a typical LA vintage/ironic t-shirt store.

INTERIOR, DAY- VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE.

GWAR
Hey this is where that guy at college gets his shirts and hats that tell us what to do.

TYSON
That’s right Tommy Tom.

A very young blonde who most likely works at the store absently walks past them. GWAR catches her attention.

GWAR
Excuse me, have you heard of the improv place a few doors down?

GIRL
No.

GWAR
Really? (pointing) It’s just a couple of doors down that way.

GIRL
Nope. (she moves along)

GWAR looks at Tyson apologetically.

They walk to the Imrov place. They go through the door and enter a very small lobby. There is a woman sitting behind a box office.

INTERIOR, DAY- SHITTY IMPROV PLACE

WOMAN
Are you here for the tryout?

GWAR
Yeah

WOMAN
Go ahead through those doors and have a seat.

They enter a tiny theater with maybe twenty chairs. There are a handful of improv actors already seated. One looks about 30 years old and is wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jacket. In fact, they all look about 30 years old- with the exception of a 45 yr old man who is outfitted in Sam Kinison’s hair and wardrobe.

NINJA TURTLE(to a cute 30-year-old woman)
Where do I know you from?

CUTE 30 YEAR OLD WOMAN
I Don’t know.

NINJA
Was it a movie?

30 YEAR OLD WOMAN (sighing)
Maybe.

NINJA
It was! It was 13 Conversations about One Thing!

30 YEAR OLD WOMAN
You’re right. I was en extra in that.

NINJA
Nice! Me too!

GWAR picks up a brochure from the seat back in front of him.  He points to Chris Kattan’s name on the program and promisingly shows it to TYSON. TYSON nods.

A 50-year-old man with the world’s worst haircut enters the room. Think Javier Bardem in No country For Old Men, except this man’s hair is thinner. The following doesn’t really need to be scripted: The Improv owner shows them around the small studio. There are pictures of famous alums like Chris Kattan and Tim Meadows. Pictures of Jr. Varsity casts, Varsity casts, and Wednesday Night casts.  He explains that only the top one or two levels get paid.  Most do it for free and the rookies pay to perform.  He sits them down and tells them about himself.  He’s been in a few episodes of Three’s Company. With a smile, he says the residual checks are nice. He nods silently, giving this cast of hopefuls time to soak in the glorious residual money that he’s earning, suggesting they could be so lucky. So now it’s time to perform.

THREE’S COMPANY IMPROV DOUCHE
Ok, we’re just gonna do some things to get you loosened up here. First, I want you to swim around like fish.

Everyone does their interpretation of a fish.  TYSON is visibly annoyed at this stupid exercise as he just pretends to swim like a human, using his arms to backstroke. GWAR is more pathetically attempting to appease the improv man than TYSON. Initially, GWAR uses his arms like a human, then self-consciously pulls them back toward his body and attempts to show swimming without arms.  This results in a pathetic upright serpentine movement. As GWAR swims past TYSON, he gives a look of confusion, TYSON in return, silently expresses his annoyance for the whole thing. The other six hopefuls are generally desperate and over-zealous in their fish impressions.

What follows is a series of cuts that displays a typical bottom-level Los Angeles improv store: A good-looking Asian-American man does an excellent Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. TYSON and GWAR do some heavy, bookish British accents. The Ninja Turtle finds a way to work a make-out session in with the woman he met on the set of 13 Conversations About One Thing. The Sam Kinison man doesn’t do much at all.

At the end, the Improv owner lines everyone up onstage and tells them he wants each of them to do whatever they want, anything they want. They take turns doing freestyle improv. The Asian American man does some more excellent Arnold. There are a few other random things. Some funny, some not. Then we get to Tyson.

TYSON (very loudly)
MASTER FRODO! WE MUST CONTINUE UP THE MOUNTAIN! WE MUST GO ON! (shaking his hands vigorously, as if at an altar) WE CANNOT FAIL! WE NEED TO TOSS THE MAGICAL RING INTO THE BOILING LAVA OF DOOM! WE MUST GO ON, MASTER! IF WE FAIL EVIL WILL PREVAIL, AND EVERYONE ELSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE EARTH WILL DIE!

When it is time for GWAR’s freestyle moment, he is extremely nervous. He’s silent for a few awkward seconds. Finally, he utters, in a horrible Arnold Schwarzenegger accent that nobody in the room can decipher-

GWAR (softly)
…why do you fart?

There is deadly silence from the Improv leader and the other actors. Tyson looks down the line at Gwar with astonishment and horror.

Cut to the car. It is quiet for a few moments as Tyson drives. Finally-

TYSON
Why do you fart?

(uproarious laughter from the two of them)

THE END

BONUS! An early short: The Firm

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