Maureen Dowd Theater


'Can He Take a Frisk?'

A one act Comedy of Manners by Maureen Dowd

Rham Emanuel - Primarily an off-stage presence, this Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee portrays the deus ex machina for 'Frisk'.
Bill Clinton - A belligerent red-faced hillbilly and former President of the United States
Barack Obama - A somber and sincere negro Senator with dreams of becoming the Commander in Chief.

The Scene: Emanuel's large office in Washington DC. Through the window, we see the Washington Monument, the Capitol Rotunda, and the White House. The office is empty, as though the playwright had neglected to populate it. There may be a chair, but Barack Obama is not sitting in it. Instead he is pacing the room and glaring at his watch, as though waiting for a meeting with someone who is perpetually two hours late.

Bill Clinton [truculently barging into the room]: “If you brought me over here to cry uncle, shame on you, Barack Obama. You and your press lackeys are engaged in a cover-up even though Hillary’s winnin’ the popular vote and the general election.”

Barack Obama [speaking in well modulated tones, cool and collected]: “Hey, Bill, please, stop wagging your finger at me. Call off Harold Ickes and the Hillaryland Huns." [pause for laughter] "You’re right. I can’t win without her. The two of us can clean McCain’s grandfather clock.”

Clinton [melting into his good ole boy persona]: “Goshalmighty. You could knock me over with a hair on a biscuit, Barack. Smart move, everybody wins. Now Hillary won’t be the skunk at your Denver garden party.” [pause for laughter]

Obama: “That’s why they call me No Drama Obama.” [pause for laughter]

Clinton [inspired and presidential]: “You’re a natural, like me. I was for hope; you are for hope. I was for change; you are for change. I took the Camelot sword from J.F.K.; you took it from Teddy." [turning conspiratorial] "I would have been with you from the beginning except for that little deal I had with Hillary. She’s going to be so relieved that she doesn’t have to return to the back rows of the Senate with everybody there snickering that she flopped. And if something happens to you, God forbid, she’s right there in the Situation Room, ready to go at 3 a.m. on her Day One.” [pause for laughter]

Obama: “Yeah. I really want to announce this quickly, so let’s clear up a few niggling details.”

Clinton: “Thank goodness you’ve got Jim Johnson frisking me." [pause for laughter] "He’s the guy who missed all the baggage weighing down Geraldine Ferraro’s husband.” [big pause for big laughter]

Obama [all business now] “Mr. President, I’m going to run a very transparent administration, everything on C-Span. So I’ll need a full accounting of your foundation donors.”

Clinton [aw-shucks mode]: “Oh, sure thing, buddy, from this day forward.”

Obama: “No, Bill, we’ll need full disclosure of your business dealings for the last eight years. And you can no longer accept Arab millions — not if I’m going to talk tough to them about oil." [Emanuel peeks out from behind the curtain, giving Obama a thumbs up] "I can’t send Hillary on diplomatic missions to the Middle East if you’re taking money from Dubai and Kuwait. And no more trips to Kazakhstan. I wouldn’t want to have to put a Geiger-counter bracelet on you to check that you’re not involved in another shady uranium deal.” [pause for laughter]

Emanuel [from behind curtain]: “Ha, ha.”

Obama: “We need to know where that $11 million came from that you guys loaned your campaign. And the $15 million from Ron Burkle at Yucaipa and the $3 million from Vinod Gupta. And you must spill about any offshore accounts in the Caymans. And no more big-money speeches, Bill. You guys have already cashed in for more than $100 million.” [pause for audience gasping]

Clinton [contritely]: “You’re right, Barack, no more speeches. Just conversations. If a C.E.O. interviews me in front of a small audience, that’s fine. But no speeches.”

Obama [sternly]: “I’m not debating the meaning of the word ‘speech,’ Bill. We’re going to have an administration so squeaky clean that it makes Jimmy Carter look like Marc Rich." [pause for laughter] "All your trips abroad will have to be authorized by a higher authority.”

Clinton: “The State Department? Fine, I’ll check with them.”

Emanuel [from behind curtain]: “Higher.”

Clinton [looking around to see who spoke. Seeing no one, he responds with trepidation]: “Oh, no. Not that.”

Obama: “Yes, Michelle." [Pause for massive laughter. Clinton hunts nervously in his pocket for a cigarette before realizing that he does not smoke. Obama produces one, and elegantly lights it for Clinton in one smooth motion] "She’ll have you on a much shorter leash, Bill, and it’s not so fun. There’ll be no more Ron Air, no Burkling and Binging. Eight long years of Michelle watching your every move. No eruptions of any kind. And that big telescope in the Naval Observatory is off limits." [pause for laughter] "We’re going to be a family-values administration." [voice taking a sinister tone] "And in the campaign, we’ll use you the way Al Gore did: Not at all. No more Bill YouTube meltdowns.”

Clinton [reality dawning in his mind]: “You know, Barack, the more I’m seein’ what you’ve got in mind for me, the more I’m worryin’ that Hillary’s just not cut out for this job. You don’t want her glomming on to everythin’." [slickly] "Since she’s almost even with the delegates, she’ll want to go halfsies in the government. She’ll want to run foreign policy, cause you know nothin’ about that. And legal stuff, because you never practiced real law. And economic policy, ’cause she connected better with working-class voters. And everything to do with white people, of course." [pause for laughter] "I’ve got to level with you, man. Hillary’s a lot of work. And that Kathleen Sebelius is terrific and has those twinkly eyes.” [pause for laughter]

Obama [softly, sincerely, not slick at all]: “So, Bill, you’re not wedded to Hillary being vice president? You won’t sabotage my campaign if I pick somebody I like," [pause for sympathetic chortles] "I mean, like, if I pick somebody else?”

Clinton [already halfway out the door]: “Nah. Now that I see the big picture, the idea of Hillary as your No. 2 was always a fairy tale.”

[Clinton exits to uproarious laughter, Emanuel comes out of hiding to high-five Obama, laughter goes nuclear, curtain lowers, playwright comes out for bow to tumultuous applause]

©2008, Mark Hoback