Emperor Script
Saturday, November 19, 2005
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Tim Russell: THE IMPERIAL RADIO THEATER —

Sue Scott: Brought to you by...

TR: Excuse me? I'm talking.

SS: Sorry.

TR: THE IMPERIAL RADIO THEATER— (TRUMPETS)

Garrison Keillor: Once there was an empire whose emperor got lost on a picnic (TR ECHO: Your Excellency???? SS ECHO: Excellency?????) and they searched high and low for him —

SS: Have you seen a rotund man with beady eyes wearing a jewelled crown and brocade jacket and shoes with curly toes, by any chance? TR SWEDISH. ) and after they'd looked everywhere (TR ECHO: Excellency???? DOOR OPEN. TR ECHO: Excellency????) they had to find a new emperor and they chose a short man with flat hair who never had said much and had no leadership experience, except for the fact he had been an umpire. (

TK: Steee-rike!) — He just seemed decisive to them. (

TK: You're out of here!!!) And they needed somebody.

SS: Umpire— empire— why not?

TR: Works for me.

GK: So he was coronated(TRUMPETS) and there was a 21-gun-salute (CANNONS BOOMING) and a fly-over (JETS AT LOW ALTITUDE) and a combover (TR SMALL THIN VOICE: Your excellency— there, that's better.) and an honor guard (MARCHING FEET, SGT COMMANDS, RIFLE PRESENTATION) and dozens of minions bowing and scraping and cringing (ABJECT WORSHIPFUL FAWNING) and his lackeys and peons (DEEPER FAWNING) and his henchmen and stooges (GROWLY FAWNING)and then the emperor (SLOW REVERB FOOTSTEPS) walked down the steps from his golden throne and walked among his people who put their foreheads to the pavement as he passed and they trembled as his footsteps drew near (FOOTSTEPS CONTINUE, CLOSER) but they couldn't help but notice—

TR (WHISPER): His fly is open.

SS (WHISPER): What?

TR (WHISPER): He's unzipped. Undone. The royal package has been unwrapped.

(FOOTSTEPS STOP)



Tom Keith: You—. Minion—.

TR (TREMBLING): Me, your Excellency, Source of All Goodness and Sagacity, O Beneficent and Far-Seeing— I grovel before you, I place my forehead in the dirt, I am unworthy to behold your shining countenance—

TK: I heard you whisper something—

TR (TREMBLING): Yes, my Emperor—

TK: What did you whisper?

SS: He said that your fly is open. (GASPS OF HORROR)

TK: You gazed upon the sacred zipper? (GASPS) TO THE DUNGEON!!!! (TR & SS WHIMPERING, LED AWAY AS SERIES OF VOICES REPEAT: TO THE DUNGEON!!!) (BRIDGE)

GK: He was an imperious and impulsive emperor, and this made the palace staff paranoid — the grand poobahs and court chamberlains scurried to and fro (FOOTSTEPS, WHISPERS, DOOR SHUTS), the various peons, the yes men

(TR: Yes o yes o yes o yes. Certainly. Absolutely. Naturally. Of course. Yes yes yes yes yes. --

TK: What do you mean, 'yes'? That's the dumbest idea I ever heard of.

TR: I mean, no. No no no no no no no. Negative. Nein, non, nevermore. No no no. No way. Thumbs down. Over my dead body. Never. Huh uh.), and the whole palace was uneasy, the lackeys and minions (SMALL HIGH-PITCHED VOICES), the henchmen (SMALL EVIL VOICES) and the stooges (G-DOING, G-DOING VOICES), they lived in fear—The emperor demanded a high level of fawning and toadying...)

SS: O benevolent, O masterful, O radiant one, source of all wisdom and giver of light—

TR: O keeper of all secrets, caster of a broad shadow....

GK: And when the poobahs and minions and lackeys sensed that the emperor was in a bad mood, they brought out the fall guy.

TK: Idiot!

TR (SMALL VOICE): Yes, sir.

TK: Peabrain!!! Nincompoop! (BWANG) I smite you with rotten fish. (SPLAT) I pour sewage over your head. (PLOPS)

TR (SMALL VOICE) : Oh batter my heart, O benevolent, O masterful, it is a privilege to be abused by you. (SPLAT, BWANG, WOP)

TK: You wretch!

GK: And when he got tired of hitting the fall guy, there was a whipping boy (WHIP CRACK, BOYISH WHIMPER) and a scapegoat (GOAT). (BRIDGE)

One day the emperor was descending from his limo (TRUMPETS) and the minions and bootlickers were kneeling before him...

(FOOTSTEPS, SLOW)

SS: O worthy, O charismatic...

TR: O thou astute, thou bringer of enlightenment, thou well-tailored, thou of the excellent haircut ....

(SLOW FOOTSTEPS)

TR (WHISPER): His fly is open.

SS (WHISPER): What?

TR (WHISPER): His barn doors are open. The violin case is unzipped.

SS (WHISPER): Oh.

(FOOTSTEPS STOP)

TK: You—

TR (TREMBLING): Yes, your Excellency—

TK: Why is there no gravel stuck to your forehead? Was your head not pressed to the pavement like all the others?

TR (TREMBLING): It was, your excellency—

TK: What were you whispering?

TR (FEARFUL): I was— telling my friend— that— I— I'm sure you can fly, your Excellency.

TK: Fly? Me?

TR (FEARFUL): I know that Divine Providence has granted Your Excellency the power of flight, to soar like an eagle — I know that you can—

TK: Hmmmmmmm.

TR: You are the Emperor and when you spread your arms, you have dominion over the air and over the force of gravity —

TK: Hmmmm. Good point.

GK: And that's how they rid themselves of that emperor. They adored and praised and (MOB FAWNING) bowed and scraped as he put on a pair of wings made of gold— (AMBIENT MURMUR OF VAST QUIET CROWD)

TK: Seems rather heavy—

GK: —and trimmed with lead.

TR: Your people await your flight, Your Excellency. See them— way down there at the foot of the cliff? See how they look up at you with reverence?

TK: They're all smiling. Why?

TR: They love you. They look to you to brighten their small dreary lives. How pitiful they are. How dull. Unimaginative. Such peasants. They need you to gladden their hearts. — Fly, my Emperor! Fly! (A LONG CRY OF A FALLING MAN, A DISTANT CRASH AND CLATTER) (FUNEREAL MUSIC)

GK: It was a wonderful funeral. No expense was spared. The keening and wailing was beautiful. (CROWD IN GRIEF) There were bagpipes. (BAGPIPES) There was the cortege (HORSES HOOVES, MARCHING FEET) and the 21-gun salute (CANNONS IN DISTANCE) and there was beautiful weeping (SS EVOCATIVE WEEPING) and Taps was lovely (BUGLE) and then afterward in all the taverns there was a wake (BOOZY CROWD, POPPING OF CORKS, WOMEN SQUEALS) and the next day, hungover, the nation had to choose a new leader to rule the empire. They looked at a pyromaniac (POOF OF EXPLOSION) and a pirate (TR: Ay me jolly crew, avast and shiver me timbers—) and a man with pyorrhea (GUMMING WORDS) and a purse snatcher (TR: Gimme that. SS: SCREECH) and a female impersonator (TR DOING CAROL CHANNING) and finally they chose a man who was — impervious.

TR (FLAT): Hi. I am your emperor.

GK: Nothing seemed to get to him, nothing affected him, nothing moved him. He moved through the empire (FOOTSTEPS, SLOW), inscrutable, impenetrable, remote, closed off— (TR FLAT: Hi. I am your emperor. How'm I doing? ) — and this seemed to work well. When people were angry, they simply took it out on the fall guy (WHOP, SPLAT. TR: Oh dear.) or the whipping boy (WHIP, BOYISH CRY) or the scapegoat (GOAT).

TR: THE IMPERIAL RADIO THEATER.

SS: Was made possible in part by—

TR: Shut up.

SS: Sorry.

TR: THE IMPERIAL RADIO THEATER. (TRUMPETS)

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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