December 4, 2010
New York, NY


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English Majors

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...after this message from the Professional Organization of English Majors.

GK: So you went to Yale, and you decided to major in Theater.

SS: I could major in English but English majors are so unattractive. I'm a physical person (TAP DANCING)--I like to embody things - I crave physical movement ----- (SWORDFIGHT W VERBAL OUTBURSTS) ----- I love to be looked at!

GK: So you graduate and go to New York City where you land the role of Juliet in the Queens Shakespearean company---which is in Queens.

SS (BRIT, ETHEREAL):
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.

GK: And a few years go by and the theater runs into financial problems, a new board of directors comes in, a new executive director, and then----

TR (BURLY): Hi. I'm Jack Spratt, the new artistic director.

GK: And he takes you aside.

TR (BURLY): Look, Theresa. You're a great gal. But we're going in a different direction. We're gonna try something new---

SS: What????

FN (NEW YORK WOMAN): Hi. I'm Tiffany. I am, like, really inspired by your former work.

TR (BURLY): We're looking for something more youthful, Theresa.

GK: And that's it — you're fired. 

SS: More youthful-----??? But I'm only------ thirty-two...(?). (STING)

GK: Theater is a brutal business. One day you're a star, and the next day you're mulch. Your agent gets you a job on a soap opera.

SS: Oh thank god.

TR (HIGH, PUNCHY): It's called Blazing Pajamas, daily show, 3 pm Eastern, a continuing role, $10,000 a week minus 15% for me, of course.

SS: Oh thank you, thank you, thank you. This will keep me going until I get back into theater.

GK: And you do Blazing Pajamas though the dialogue is sort of chunky-----

(BLAZING PAJAMAS THEME)

SS (BREATHY): I don't know, Craig. Ever since your mother broke up my parents' marriage which meant that Mom and I had to live in squalor in the Meadowlands of New Jersey and she came down with amnesia and I had to clean the houses of the rich with nothing but a roll of paper towels and a travel-sized hand sanitizer, as your mother and my father sailed away on a 200-foot yacht and formed their own pharmaceutical company and adopted 14 children, including you -----  technically that would make you my step brother — and yet, I love you.

TR: I love you too, Bethany.
(A BEAT)

SS: I forgot what I was saying.

TR: You love me?

SS (BREATHY): Oh yeah, I love you Craig. But it doesn't seem fair to my mom. Oh, what to do?

(BLAZING PAJAMAS THEME UP)

GK: And three years pass as Bethany and then—

FN (QUIET): Look Theresa. You're a great gal. But we're going in a different direction. Bethany's had four marriages and been abducted by aliens and fought off a terrorist attack and we just don't see her going anywhere so tomorrow she's going to fall down an empty elevator shaft.

SS: I can't believe this!!!

FN (QUIET): So tomorrow, wear comfortable clothes and get ready to work with a harness.

(BRIDGE)

GK: Three years as Bethany. Finished. And you go home that night and you eat 5 pints of Lumpy Lucy's Caramel Catastrophe Ice Cream (SS WEEPS, EATS ICE CREAM), and two weeks later you have a part on C.S.I. You're standing on the edge of Washington Square Park and say—

SS (UNDER): Smoke smoke smoke smoke smoke.

GK: That's your only line.

SS (UNDER): Smoke smoke smoke smoke smoke smoke—

(BRIDGE)

GK: One day of shooting. 400 bucks. And then weeks go by. Months. Your agent doesn't call. And you find a job on Craigslist, standing around Lower Manhattan in a chicken suit, (CLUCKING), handing out flyers for Lower Manhattan Broilers. (CLUCKING). The mask is hot and the eyeholes are tiny and you're making $3.50 an hour, but it's an acting job---so you take it. (TRAFFIC, BREATHING IN MASK) But all the while you're thinking---

SS (MASK):  Where did I go wrong? 

GK: From Yale graduate to standing on a corner dressed as a chicken---

SS (MASK): Why is my life a disaster? Why why why??????

GK: If you had majored in English instead of theater, you would know that disaster is a major literary asset. You could move back to the Midwest, rent a farmhouse for cheap, sit down and write your memoir entitled FAILURE.

TR (RADIO ANNC): My next guest is Theresa Montclair, author of  FAILURE. A memoir of her years in Manhattan. Forty-one weeks on the NY Times bestseller list. And now to be made into a motion picture with Jennifer Aniston playing the role of you.

SS: That's right.

TR: So is this true? The story about you in a chickensuit handing out coupons for a fried chicken joint? 

SS: It's all true.

TR: You write so beautifully, it reads like a novel.

SS: Thank you.

GK: There is always fresh hope for an English major because failure is only material to a writer. A message from the Professional Organization of English Majors.

(BLAZING PAJAMAS THEME OUT)

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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).

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