“Republican Standup: Ayn Rand” (Story)
Maybe it’s the economy?
Or the alimony payments? Or the hikes in health care premiums? Or the chipped coffee mug in the green room?
Whatever it is, Richard Charmer hasn’t been feeling his usual jovial self lately. And that’s not good for business when you’re a Republican standup comedian.
“Republican Standup: Ayn Rand” is an incisive political story. Ever wonder what happens when you start to question what you stand for?
When you start to question your beliefs?
‘See what happens when the incessant hypocrisy of right wing politics becomes a punch line.’ Stefano Boscutti
‘Acerbic take on the human condition and the politics of division.’ Giancarlo Bandini
‘Get ready for some right wing nihilism.’ Larry Dillion
‘Marvelous, fractured account of what appears to be a comedian wandering the seventh circle of hell.’ Paul McCabe
‘Republican takedown of the highest order.’ John Truber
Rated R / ISBN 9780987446503 / 1,500 words / 6 minutes of super sharp reading pleasure / Buy Barnes & Noble / Buy Smashwords
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‘I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive.’ George W. Bush
REPUBLICAN STANDUP: AYN RAND
Copyright 2012 Stefano Boscutti
All Rights Reserved ISBN 9780987446503
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Richard Charmer is by himself in the green room at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa.
A 259-room resort providing fine dining, championship golf courses and more than 25,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space outside beautiful Hoover, Alabama. A decor emphasizing the natural elements found in the area with limestone flooring, cherry wood and hammered copper accents.
The local Republicans have booked Charmer for their monthly get together. Charmer is a standup comedian, a proud Republican standup comedian. His father had been a standup comedian too. It’s like the family business. They were going to do a double act for a while, but the extra payroll taxes would have killed them.
Charmer looks around the green room and wonders if it was ever actually painted green. Pretty unlikely. No one honors tradition anymore. He can hear the dull hum of a generator through the cinder block walls.
There are no windows, no natural light. No idea whether it’s day or night. Perpetual hotel time.
Charmer wonders whether he should take another Inderal tablet. He doesn’t take them for his heart or blood pressure. He takes them to lower his anxiety, to smooth out the show.
Last time he thinks he may have taken one too many, so it might be better to play it safe.
It’s not like he’s addicted or anything. Inderal tablets are beta blockers that trim back the fight or flight response in the central nervous system. That keeps you calm, yet focused. Not so you’re slurring your words or anything. You still hit your lines, but without all the anxiety.
Charmer has been feeling more anxious than usual lately. He’s not sure whether it’s the economy, or the alimony. But he hasn’t been his perky self.
Maybe his routine is getting old, maybe he’s getting a little on. Might be time to work some new material into his act. Step up the humor.
He looks around the room and imagines what it must be like outside. What the good people of Hoover are up to. Probably shopping at the Riverchase Galleria.
Hopefully shopping for some decent furniture for this green room. Standard hotel chain table and chairs. Standard hotel chain refrigerator. Standard hotel chain fruit bowl.
Archer spots a ‘Who is John Galt?’ coffee mug on the newspaper. There’s a line of dialogue on the back of the mug, ‘I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live by mine.’
The lip of the mug is chipped.
The newspaper headlines are all about the financial crisis in Greece and how Greeks are killing themselves and there are pictures of burning building and advertisements for new model Cadillacs at 23% off with 0.9% financing (which is what started all the trouble in the first place).
Charmer picks up the mug and sips the coffee. A little caffeine isn’t going to kill him.
He tries not to look at the newspaper headlines.
He’d been a fan of Ayn Rand since he was a boy. All that rational objectivism, all that righteous individuality. He grew up with “Atlas Shrugged” right there next to the Bible and Webster’s Dictionary on the family bookshelf. He never questioned it. But now the answers aren’t quite so clear cut. Is it really a crime to want to help your fellow man?
Charmer opens the door and walks down the hallway towards the meeting room, still sipping his coffee.
He thinks about the crowd of Republicans waiting for him. They’ll mostly be nervous retirees. So he should probably ease up on the Jihad jokes. Wouldn’t want to give any of them a heart attack.
Republicans scare easily. It’s their biological disposition. It’s how their brains work. A larger amygdala ups the fear factor, a smaller anterior cingulate makes them unreceptive to courage and optimism.
He walks up onto the small stage to a smattering of polite applause. He smiles out at the audience. Retired Republicans just like he thought. Smug, self-satisfied, angry rich guys. He figures they can take a little ribbing.
He looks at his coffee.
‘Any John Galt fans here today?’
A few hoots, someone hollers.
He takes a sip of his coffee.
‘Any Ayn Rand fans?’
More hoots and hollers and a couple of yeehahs.
‘Okay, calm down. Keep it in your pants. She’s not out the back or anything. I’m not bringing her back from the dead either.’
A ripple of laughter.
‘What was it? The dick joke? Seriously, is that all it took?’
Some nervous laughter.
‘She was a funny lady, wasn’t she? I mean, you know, she was funny looking. That dikey haircut, those terrible teeth.’
Charmer drains his coffee.
‘Ayn Rand? Wasn’t even her real name. Alisa Zinovievna Rosenbaum. That’s what her parents called her. She was born in St Petersburg. No, not the one in Florida. The one in Russia.’
Charmer tosses the empty mug over his shoulder.
‘Ayn Rand. Believer in rugged individualism and personal responsibility, ardent defender of self-interest at any cost, staunch opponent of any of the government programs like Social Security and Medicaid.’
Someone in the audience claps.
‘Heavy smoker her whole life who refused to believe smoking damages your health, even after she contracted lung cancer. Three packs a day will do that to you. Seriously, talk about not taking personal responsibility.’
Someone in the audience coughs.
‘This is going to hurt a little. Are you all sitting the fuck down? Seriously, I don’t want anyone having a seizure or anything.’
Audience shifts in their seats. Charmer smiles.
‘You know she was a welfare moocher, don’t you? Ideologically and morally opposed to Social Welfare and Medicaid but she was signed up for government handouts in her married name of Ann O’Connor.
Someone calls out something from the audience. Charmer cups his ear.
‘What’s that? A joke. No sirree. She despised government interference and believed people must live independently. Believed people should never take help. Said it dulled the will to work, to save. Dulled the entrepreneurial spirit.’
‘Said it was wrong for everyone else to do, but she took the money on the sly. Seriously, what a fucking hypocrite.’
Someone calls out a question. Charmer cocks his head.
‘What hypocrisy?! Are you fucking kidding me? Do you have a learning disability? What?! It was in her rational self-interest to collect welfare!?! Sure, if you’re a sociopath.’
‘That doesn’t make it hypocrisy?’
‘No, technically, the hypocrisy is her hiding her dependence on the social safety net while continuing to promote its destruction. Hypocrisy. It’s in Webster’s Dictionary. The art of affecting qualities for the purpose of pretending to an undeserved virtue. Look it up, shit for brains.’
Someone calls out again. Charmer is not sure he heard it right.
‘I’m peeing under a mannequin!?’
Someone calls out louder.
‘You’re goddamn being un-American!!’
‘I’m being un-American? Fuck you! I was born here, cocksucker. I didn’t come over in a boat from Russia.’
Charmer stares down his audience. It’s probably not the right time to bring up Rand’s gay husband, the lesbian affairs, the lost young men, the telltale abortions, the rampant atheism, the lifelong amphetamine habit.
‘When did we become a nation of fucking self-centered assholes? Seriously, when the fuck did that happen?’
Someone complains about the language. Charmer snaps at him.
‘Shut the fuck up, grandpa. Take the opportunity to open your mind a little. Let some light in.’
Someone calls out for a joke.
‘Oh, I’ll give you a fucking joke. The family values Republican senator sucking cock in an airport bathroom? Funny enough for you? What about the anti-choice college student who sneaks into the local abortion clinic, praying no one will see her and God will forgive her? How about the rugged capitalist who leaches every government program to bail out his struggling company and compensate his poorly paid workers?’
‘Laughing now, motherfuckers?’
Charmer laughs. He shouldn’t be too surprised. Republicans have got cognitive dissonance down pat. Say one thing and do another. Steal, rape, plunder. What’s the difference when you worship selfishness at all costs? What’s the point when honesty is seen as a weakness?
All sociopaths blame the victim. They wouldn’t have it any other way.
‘You want to know what’s really fucking weird?
Someone from the audience stands up and leaves.
‘Republicans used to stand for something. Now they’re just opposed to everything. They think they’re victims of some imaginary conspiracy that’s robbed them of a time when men were men and women were housewives.’
Charmer wonders how he can work in a line about global warming and domestic economic piracy, and the cult of perpetual war.
‘Don’t give me that look. Don’t give me that 12-year-old-girl-I’m-just-about-to-cry-if-I-don’t-get-what-I-want look. When did Republicans start crying like little girls who didn’t get invited to a birthday party?’
Charmer stares down his audience.
‘Seriously, when did that become okay?’
Stefano Boscutti is a freelance creative director and award-winning writer based in Melbourne, Australia.
© Stefano Boscutti All Rights Reserved