HAVING TROUBLE GETTING STARTED?
Think Spalding Gray. Jay Leno. Lead Belly blues. A G-chat rant or George Bush moments after he choked on a pretzel…
The following two examples prepared by contest judge Jeffrey F. Barken and 2012 Contest judge, Matthew Falk are not meant to set the bar or establish criteria for judging the monologue contest. You can write anything you like so long as it pertains to the given prompt.
Prompt: “What’s in my pocket?”
What’s in my pocket? They’re empty now. Everything is over there in that ceramic bowl my wife gave me. She says the bowl is for all the things that “wind up in my pocket,” but I know the truth behind her scheme. She only wants to contain my mess around the house.
Last night we got back late. The bowl is overflowing. If I sort through everything I can find out how much I spent and remember every scene from yesterday. Beneath receipts for dinner, the metro, the pizza slice I had for lunch, and the coffee I had at breakfast I find a dirty tissue. I can remember the moment I blew my nose yesterday so clearly now that I’ve found it here in my bowl. I’m glad I kept that tissue.
Suddenly the bowl starts ringing. My cell phone is in there too! I dig through the loose change. Mostly nickels and dimes and then that penny I found on the sidewalk yesterday—the one that’s shiny on one side and muddy on the other. I’ll never forget that penny and how I only found it because I had to step out of the way of that biker and wound up stranded in a flower bed on Calvert Street.
It’s my wife calling. Better pick up. She’ll know I’ve been cleaning.
“What do you need?” I ask her to repeat her question.
“My keys. They should be with the pants I wore last night. Check the pockets!”
Wearing my favorite hat, I go to meet my girl. “That hat,” she says, “makes you look like my dad.” So I stop wearing it. But then I get complaints. My friend sees me on the sidewalk and says: “Where’s your hat?” Another friend says, “I don’t know who you are without your hat.” I don’t know who I am either much of the time. Max Ernst has a painting, Hats Make the Man. My girl doesn’t like Ernst. She thinks his art is disturbing. I say: “That’s why I like it.” Mission of Burma sang about Max Ernst: “People did not like that man / He was too irrational.” My girl doesn’t like dada, nor punk rock. She thinks art should take itself seriously. She says I’m too sarcastic, too indirect, I never say what I mean. I say I mean what I say. Is it even possible to say something and not mean it? I say nothing means anything in itself; meaning is a construct, an imposition of order on an arbitrary universe; we’re all just making it up as we go along. I say I’m an ironist. She rolls away from me and shows me her back. It’s a very fine back. When I say something is “fine” she thinks I’m being dismissive. It’s like we speak different languages. I say language is another thing we’re just making up as we go along. With my finger I trace her tattoos. Skin is a text we all understand.