The Filkado


Copyright 2003-2004 by Gary McGath and Terri Wells. "A More Mundane Filkado" by Michael Stein and Harold Feld, Copyright 2004.

Act I

[Note on first entrances: Nit-Pick, Dr. McKoko, Filkado, Guards L, Punsman R, Tomokatisha R. As a general principle for maintaing loose consistency, stage left is the planet, stage right is space.]

Scene 1

Chorus of Nesfanese (enter from L). (For the first act, all chorus members are in the Nesfanese chorus. In the second act, they will be divided into the chorus of Pirates and the chorus of Nesfanese.) Two of them are in uniform, and act as guards during some points, but otherwise sing with the chorus. Also present is Nit-Pick, dressed more formally than the others.

Note: Nesfan is prounounced "Nes-FAN," rhyming with Japan.

Chorus [TTTO "If You Want to Know Who We Are"]:  
If you want to know who we are,
We are denizens of Nesfan.
You may think that it's bizarre,
But all frivolous thoughts we ban.
Our attitude's strict and stern,
For orderly lives we yearn.
If you think we don't, you'll learn.
If you think we are worked by strings
Or we're just robotic fools,
You don't understand these things.
It is simply Robert's Rules.
Perhaps you suppose this throng
Can't keep it up all day long?
If that's your idea, you're wrong,

At the cadence after measure 96, where the singing starts to get tough, cut to the recitative.

Enter the Punsman R. The following passage is in recitative.

Punsman: Gentlefolk, I pray you tell me
Where you keep your treasured music and your songs,
The ones in German.
I beg you take me to your lieder.

Nit-Pick: Why, who are you who pun so boldly?

Punsman: Come gather round me, and I'll tell you.

[TTTO "A Wandering Minstrel I"] A wandering punster I, a thing of gags and laughter,
Of wordplay ever dafter,
And silly repartee.
My repertoire is large, for every word's a straight line,
For which I have a great line,
To leave you with a groan,
To leave you with a groan.

Are you in melancholy mood?
I'll make you smile.
Low humor!
On life's afflictions do you brood?
Hear me a while.
Low humor, humor!
I'll help you laugh and groan
With puns that make you moan,
Set forth in deadpan tone
And simple style.
Low humor, humor, humor!

But if cat-related humor is what's wanted,
I've catalogues of punning in supply,
And I purr-sonally think it must be granted,
It's folly when our felines we deny.
A litter box is easy to assemble,
And cats know how to use one, it is true,
But I shouldn't be surprised to see you tremble
Before the smelly scoops, the scoops of kitty poo!
He shouldn't be surprised
To see us tremble, tremble in disgust
Before the smelly scoops, the scoops of kitty poo!
And if you call for a song about C,
We'll pass the C shell round,
We'll dive for PERLS beneath the Sun,
We'll surf on the Web till the day is done,
And download WAVes of sound!

Oh, no! Oh, no!
He'll download WAVes of sound!

A floating point in a clipper chip
May liven a hacker's heart,
But the happiest time in a user's day
Is a lively cruise to a site she's found
Or a voyage to E-bay, yo ho!
When she's safe in the the data port!

Chorus cut here, as in the songbook edition -- it's a tricky one.

A wandering punster I, a thing of gags and laughter,
Of wordplay ever dafter,
And silly repartee.
And silly repartee, repartee, repartee!


Nit-Pick: If wandering punster you are, you'd best wander on, lest your own occupation condemn you to death.

Punsman: What? How so? My puns have been condemned before, but my very living lead to my dying? Absurd!

Nit-Pick: Absurd or not, it is the law here on Nesfan. The Filkado himself has declared it--and it is the sworn duty of myself, Nit-Pick, as one of his legal agents, to inform you that punning is outlawed on this planet.

Punsman: Outlawed?!

Nit-Pick: Yes, indeed--and punishable by death.

Punsman: But that's outrageous! When puns are outlawed, only outlaws will make puns!

Nit-Pick: That's exactly the reason for the law.

Punsman: Reason or not, it's an unreasonable law! Still... I suppose I must take it seriously, lest I become a grave man. [General groans from Nesfanese] It was good enough for Shakespeare.

Nit-Pick: Your situation is quite grave enough; I see you can't even be serious without committing puns--

Punsman: I assure you, I'm seriously committed to punning!

Nit-Pick: Then for your own safety,you must flee from here, lest you commit legal suicide!

Punsman: Legal suicide? I'm a punster, not a lawyer! But no, I can't go yet. I'm on a mission of gravity-- I really do have an urgent message to deliver to your leader.

Nit-Pick: Well then, though we choke on your gags, your timing is excellent. By a fortunate coincidence of the sort rarely seen outside of theatrical productions, our Filkado is expected to arrive here shortly for one of his regular visits.

As Nit-Pick says the foregoing, Dr. McKoko enters L. Chorus is deferential to him.

Scene 2

Dr. McKoko: Indeed--and if I could, I'd shorten the time until his arrival even more.

Nit-Pick: Dr. McKoko! [to Punsman] This is Dr. McKoko, our Lord High Evil Genius. [to McKoko] Why are you so eager to see the Filkado?

Dr. McKoko: After much study and hard work in my laboratory, I have developed a surgical procedure that can save the lives of those condemned to death for punning. It makes use of a fine animal I discovered that enters the ear of the victim--er, that is, I mean patient--and seeks out and destroys the punning centers of the brain.

Punsman [aside to audience]: An eerie procedure for sure.

Nit-Pick: Is it truly effective, then?

Dr. McKoko: Well, I haven't fully tested it out on humans yet... WeNesfanese are such a law-abiding lot that our pun centers have atrophied. But I know the Filkado will want to hear more about it when he arrives; surely it is more humane than execution!

Punsman [aside as before]: Quite preferable; why, compared to being put to death, it is truly a capital punishment!

Nit-Pick [checking watch]: You should get your chance soon, Doctor.

Dr. McKoko [indicating Punsman]: But who is this? He seems as impatient as I am.

Nit-Pick: Oh, he is--

Punsman [interrupting]: An admirer of your work, good doctor.

Dr. McKoko: That's evil doctor, actually, but I'll let that go for someone as obviously discerning as yourself.

Punsman [takes Dr. McKoko aside]: Tell me, Doctor--hypothetically of course--if this planet were, oh, threatened by invaders... Would you be able to create contingency plans to keep its citizens safe?

Dr. McKoko: You had to ask. Why of course I would! One might become an executioner by a set of curious chances--but not a Lord High Evil Genius!

Dr. McKoko [TTTO "I've Got a Little List"]:
If ever it should happen that I need an evil plan,
I've got a little file--I've got a little file
Of the nastiest inventions that were ever known to man,
They really are so vile--They really are so vile.

There's the beam of lethal power that turns victims into smoke,
The robot made for murder, with its hands that grasp and choke,
The quickly killing poison that's soon gone without a trace.
The evil duplicate who has the leader's voice and face.
The hypodermic needle with the virus from West Nile;
They really are so vile--they really are so vile.

He's got 'em in the file, he's got 'em in the file.
They really are so vile--they really are so vile.

Dr. McKoko:
[Boris Badenov accent]
Zere's ze gas from Pottsylvania zat makes people really dumb.
I've got it in ze file--I've got it in ze file.
Ze scrooch ray from ze moon zat makes your body all go numb.
Now isn't zat so vile? It's fiendish and it's vile.

Zere's ze phony taxi driver who will send you off a cliff,
Ze surgical procedure zat leaves wictims cold and stiff.
Ze metal-munching moon mice who can bite antennas off,
And ozzer sings zat get much worse--but zose are Badenov.

Possible business here: The chorus is horrified. Dr. McKoko pulls out a device which flashes brightly. The chorus shake their heads, as if they've forgotten whatever it was that was just bothering them.

My plans may never work, but I deliver zem with style,
Because zey are so vile--zey really are so vile.

He's got 'em in the file, he's got 'em in the file.
They really are so vile--they really are so vile.

Dr. McKoko:
[Maurice LaMarche voice]
If you ponder what I'm pondering, you'll see my plans unfurled,
With brilliance and with guile. It's all there in the file.
Before the night is done, I will have taken o'er the world,
It almost makes me smile, it really is so vile.

I can set you all to panic with a space invasion scare,
Or woo you with cheap T-shirts which will lure you anywhere.
I'll build a giant magnet that will pin you to the ground,
Or sing a country hit song that will brainwash you with sound.
So it really doesn't matter what you pull out of the file;
They're all so very vile; they're all so very vile.

He's got 'em in the file, he's got 'em in the file.
They really are so vile--they really are so vile.

Nit-Pick departs L, along with both guards.

Scene 3

Enter Tomokatisha R. She smiles at Dr. McKoko as she enters.

Dr. McKoko [to the Punsman]: Ah, my dear admirer, if you want to know about our defenses against alien invasion, this is the person with whom you should speak. This is Tomokatisha, the Supreme Commander of the Space Force of Nesfan. [To Tomokatisha] How are you today, my dear?

Tomokatisha: Very well, thank you, Doctor. [Takes out an odd-looking device.] Your weapons scanner is a marvelous invention.

Dr. McKoko: Why, naturally. We must insure that there are no weapons present which could endanger our Filkado.

Tomokatisha wanders through the crowd, pointing her device at each member of the chorus (except the guards, who are expected to be armed) in turn. Finally she comes to the Punsman and points it at him. There is a piercing alarm sound. She scans him more closely, and finds that the alarm goes off when pointed at his head.

Tomokatisha [with the no-nonsense politeness of an experienced security guard): Remove that device from your head, please.

The Punsman complies and carefully hands her the beanie. She scans it, but there is no sound. She then points the device at his head, and the alarm sounds again. She looks at him with a puzzled expression.

Tomokatisha: I don't understand. Do you have a weapon there?

Punsman: Of course, Commander. My weapon is my wits.

Tomokatisha [scans him from several angles]: That does appear to be your sole weapon. See that you keep it sheathed. But who are you?

Punsman: A visitor from off-planet, with a message for the Filkado. And for you too, Commander. It concerns this planet's safety.

Scene 4
Nit-Pick importantly enters L

Nit-Pick: The Filkado of Nesfan!

The chorus promptly comes to attention. A march from the orchestra. Nit-Pick clears a path for the Filkado, and ends on stage R, not far from the Punsman. The guards enter L, bearing a huge gavel. Tomokatisha hastily moves toward them. Following them, in full pomp, the Filkado. The guards hand the gavel to the Filkado. He steps forward and sings:

Filkado [TTTO "A More Humane Mikado / My Object All Sublime"; song by Michael Stein and Harold Feld, Copyright 2004]:
A more mundane Filkado never did in Nesfan exist.
To nobody second I'm certainly reckoned
A true proprietist.
It is my very proper endeavour
To bring to some degree
To every joker a face that is poker
And quite devoid of glee.
My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time:
To make the funnymen serve their time,
The funnymen serve their time.
And make all business sent
Unfailingly represent
No trace of insolent merriment,
Of insolent merriment!
All jokesy vile damned parody singers
Who think their satires please --
To punish this ill, their iPods I'll fill
With scrambled MP3s!
The persistent filker whose vocal villainies
Mock what our authors write
Will meet his destroyers
In SFWA's bold lawyers
When sued over copyright.
The laddie who plays a comical fellow,
For him I have no use,
And all who try it
Are put on a diet
Of prunes and lemon juice.
But the worst I save for the blogger or zine
[slower] That caricatures the Filkado;
We'll test out his stamina
By giving an enema
With an under-ripe avocado!
[Filkado pulls out an avocado]
Punsman (spoken): I wouldn't wish that on my worst en --
[All gasp in horror. Filkado extends avocado to Dr. McKoko, who rises menacingly, perhaps pulling out a latex glove and starting to put it on. The Punsman hastily starts conducting.
Punsman/Filkado: His (My) object all sublime,
All/Filkado: He (I) shall achieve in time,
All: To make the funnymen serve their time,
The funnymen serve their time,
And make all business sent
Unfailingly represent
No trace of insolent merriment,
Of insolent merriment.
The Punsman continues to conduct enthusiastically into a repeat of the chorus.
All except Filkado:
His object all sublime,
He shall achieve in time...
The Filkado starts waving his arms futilely before banging the gavel for order, bringing the chorus to a disordered halt.]
Filkado: [Banging gavel] Order!
[The accompanist continues to a full cadence to give the piece a clean end. The crowd returns to their previous respectful attitude during the applause.]

Filkado: This meeting is now called to order.

Punsman: Ham on --

Nit-pick silences the Punsman with desperate gestures.

Filkado: This meeting is hereby called to order. Old business first.

Nit-pick [reading from a ledger]: The only item of old business is the administration of criminal justice.

Filkado: Dr. McKoko, as of the last meeting, no executions for punning had been held yet. Would you present your report?

Dr. McKoko [steps forward]: Your Majesty, in accordance with your wise principle that the punishment should fit the crime, I have devised a fine procedure that will make executions unnecessary. This procedure will make punners unable to pun! You see, by a careful study of the centers of the brain--

Filkado: Good work, Doctor. You'll put all the technical details into an appendix to the minutes.

Dr. McKoko [clearly disappointed at not being allowed to explain it all]: Of course, Your Majesty.

Filkado: Any other old business? [Silence.] New business. [The Punsman raises his hand.] Yes? You are...?

Punsman: A visitor from off-planet. I have come to Nesfan to give you warning. [Pauses significantly] You are threatened with imminent attack by invaders from MARS!

Filkado: What, that dead planet?

Punsman: Not the planet Mars. The Musical Alliance of Rotten Scoundrels. They are music pirates!

Filkado: Music pirates? Our legal staff will stop them effortlessly.

Nit-Pick: Give me the details after the meeting.

Punsman: With all due respect, sir, you don't realize the threat they pose! They are led by a bold commander, D. J. Thoris. Since their chain of music stores went bankrupt, they have become increasingly daring. They have a space fleet armed with PlagiaRays which attacks in waves, which is now on its way, and can be expected to arrive here in two months. The fleet is directed by a terabyte dreadnought.

Dr. McKoko: Surely not the Z9M9Z?

Punsman: No, the 3PMP3.

Filkado: Exactly who are you? [Orchestra begins to play the introduction to the Major General's song, but the Filkado interrupts] And no songs, please.

Punsman: May it please you, sir, I am known as the Punsman. This beanie was given to me--and to all the others who serve the Galactic Pun Troll-- by Dementor of Arisia, so that I can fight the forces of evil with the Power of the Pun.

Filkado [waving gavel furiously]: Seize him!!

Punsman [without interruption]: The Beanie enhances and focuses my punning ability, permitting the delivery of puns of ravening energy, so that our enemies nevermore will disturb us.

During the Punsman's words, the guards attempt to restrain him, but fall back in horror, covering their ears.

Punsman [restraining himself]: Oh, I beg your pardon.

First Guard: Pay! [The Punsman tosses a couple of coins to Nit-Pick.]

Filkado [likewise recovering]: Normal procedures would require you to be executed -- or at least subjected to Dr. McKoko's fine procedure -- for saying such things. But our planet's safety requires me to hear you out first. Do I hear a motion to suspend the rules?

[As this is happening, First Guard takes out his communicator and listens to it.]

Second Guard: So moved.

A chorus member: Second.

Filkado: All in favor? [All the chorus members raise their hands, with varying degrees of reluctance. A chorus member nudges the First Guard, who is listening intently to some message. After the vote, First Guard gestures to Tomokatisha, and they discreetly go offstage R. Dr. McKoko raises his hand.]

Filkado: Dr. McKoko?

Dr. McKoko: I wish to be the first to thank the Punsman for his timely warning. We should have little difficulty dealing with this invasion, since there are a full two months before the pirate fleet arrives. I wish to volunteer to head a committee to devise suitable defenses for our world.

Punsman: You sound very confident.

Dr. McKoko: Of course. Do not take me for a conjurer of cheap gadgets. I have a brain like a planet.

Punsman: You mean it's made of rock? [Covers his mouth, but it's too late.]

Filkado [outraged]: Now that is entirely too much. I can overlook some breaches of conduct for the sake of the planet's safety, but I will not tolerate having members of my government insulted. This isn't the United States! Dr. McKoko, I believe we have a subject on whom you can test the procedure which you had mentioned.

Dr. McKoko [rubbing his hands]: With pleasure, Your Majesty.

Second Guard pauses to don earplugs, then moves timidly to seize the Punsman.

Tomokatisha [rushing in from R, with First Guard] Wait! Everyone freezes as she runs to center stage. I have just learned that the Music Pirate fleet has been detected on our long-range radar.

Dr. McKoko: But that means they can't be more than two weeks away!

Tomokatisha: Precisely. We need all the help that we can get. Even the Power of the Pun.

Punsman [to Filkado]: Your Majesty, I wish to apologize for my behavior. I offer you my services in this emergency.

Filkado: Very well. Charges against you are suspended, so long as you remain in service to us, and no longer. You and Tomokatisha are appointed to Dr. McKoko's defense strategy committee.

Nit-Pick: Your Majesty, we should begin preparations promptly for insuring adequate shelter against the attackers. Move to adjourn.

Second Guard: Seconded.

Filkado: All in favor? [All quickly raise their hands, and hurry off. Those who will be Pirates in Act II, including Second Guard if doubling as Pirate Lieutenant, exit right, the others left.]

Filkado: Last one out, don't forget to turn off the lights. [Exits L. The Punsman, Dr. McKoko and Tomokatisha remain.]

Scene 5

Dr. McKoko: Tell me then, Punsman, what do you know of strategy?

Punsman: A great deal. Comedy and strategy often go hand in hand. [Holds up his hand as Dr. McKoko opens his mouth to rebuke him.] We Punsmen are trained in subtlety and guile.

Tomokatisha: We need no subtle stratagems! We will face their fleet and blow them out of the sky!

Dr. McKoko: What precisely do you have in mind, Punsman?

Punsman: Infiltration. I am an expert at disguise. I will craftily board their craft and learn all that I can of them.

Tomokatisha: Yes, that would be highly useful. You can spy them out, informing us of their nefarious plans -- and then we can blow them out of the sky.

Dr. McKoko: I admire your approach, Tomokatisha. And perhaps his plan is not so foolish as it seems.

Punsman: Do you truly think so?

Dr. McKoko: Certainly. If it accomplishes nothing else, it will take you off our planet for a while.

Tomokatisha: And perhaps subtlety and force together will grant us the victory we seek.

Punsman: It will. Perhaps we are not so unlike as we seem. I will prepare my fast scout ship, which can reach their fleet in three days' time. Hesitates I may, of course, be lost in the battle. Commander Tomokatisha, before I go on this dangerous mission, I wish to confide an important secret to you. [Whispers in her ear.]

Tomokatisha [astonished]: Can it be true? Yes, what you have said has the ring of truth. I will keep it cloaked, except in utmost need.

Punsman: No, I am the cloak. You are the dagger.

[TTTO "There is Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast"]:  
Tomokatisha: There is beauty in the crater of the blast,
There is grandeur in the glowing of the beam,
Utter beauty isn't lacking in a squad of ships attacking,
And a particle torpedo's violent gleam.

But a strategy that's subtle can avoid a firm rebuttal
From the enemy torpedo's violent gleam.

Antimatter has a splendor that is grim,
It can help to keep your enemies at bay.
It is truly scintillating to see foes disintegrating
In the striking of a megapower ray.

But if you are not the stronger, then you may not live much longer
When you face the Pirates' megapower ray.

It's all the same, for derry down derry,
It's evident, very, our goals are one.
We share one aim, to merrily bury
The enemy quarry when day is done.

There is beauty in a calculated trick;
It can win where naked power's not enough.
If a wild goose they are chasing while their main base you're effacing
Then you can defeat the foe, however tough.

And if you can go right past'em so you get inside and blast'em
Then you certainly have shown'em that you're tough.

Are you patient when you're lurking with a blade?
Can you wait till they are all asleep in bed,
When a swift decapitation gives you cause for celebration,
And by waiting longer you can get a head?

Dr. McKoko[glares at him]:
Please respect our laws on punning, for the penalty is stunning,
And it's better if you try to keep your head.

Punsman, Tomokatisha, Dr. McKoko:
It's all the same, for derry down derry,
It's evident, very, our goals are one.
We share one aim, to merrily bury
The enemy quarry when day is done.
Sing derry down derry,
We'll merrily bury
The enemy quarry
When day is done.

Tomokatisha exits L; Dr. McKoko and Punsman exit R. Punsman turns off an imaginary light switch.

Continue to act 2