You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The International Hitler Impersonators' Society

(Yet another sketch from the unproduced television version of DOUI. Maybe we'll get it on Spike TV or Channel 4 in Britain one of these days.)

[Scene: A tall, clean-shaven man in a suit walks up to the podium on the dais of a large hall. 4 similarly clean-shaven men in suits are sitting at tables on either side of the podium, 2 to a side. He is carrying a small bundle of notes, which he sets on the podium and adjusts. He looks out over the crowd in front of him and carefully surveys the group. Then, he reaches into his waistcoat pocket and produces a small, black moustache, which he quickly pastes above his upper lip. He then pounds a gavel on the podium.]

Speaker: Hear, hear! I do hearby call to order the 51st meeting of the International Hitler Impersonators' Society!

[The 4 men at the tables pull out little, black Hitler moustaches and quickly paste them on.]

Speaker: I'm your chair, Mr. Martin Quibble [Caption: "Assumed Name"] from West Brom, and on behalf of the organizing committee, I'd like to welcome you all to Blackpool, England, Now ...

[A hand goes up in the crowd.]

Speaker: ...erm, Yes?

[A man in a too small bowler hat, with a shabby, ill-fitting coat and a prop cane stands up.]

Attendee 1: I'm sorry! I thought this was the Charlie Chaplin Impersonators' Society gathering.

Speaker: No, no, I'm afraid there's been a bit of a muddle. The Charlie Chaplin Impersonators' Society are booked at the Thistle Stanley Park, whlist we're all situated at the Hilton, here.

Attendee 1: Sorry!

[He doffs his hat comically and gets up to leave, joined by a half-dozen men in similar Charlie Chaplin attire, all whom shuffle off in the familiar Chaplin style.]

Various Chaplin Impersonators [as they depart]: Sorry! Sorry!

Speaker: Shouldn't you all be silent, anyway?

[The Chaplin Impersonators quickly cover their mouths in embarassment.]

Speaker: Well, back to business. It's been a very good year for Hitler Impersonators. We've worked a variety of entertainments, including [reading from notes] 14 birthdays, seven weddings, nine anniversaries, 2 Mel Brooks films, 12 ten-pin bowling parties, 87 fraternity parties, Prince Harry's New Year's Eve party, 490 skinhead parties, 1475 radical Islamic jihadist rallies, one Bar-Mitzvah??? ... who managed to pull that off?

[A single hand goes up in the crowd.]

Speaker: Jenkins, from Chicago? Well done Jenkins! Well done, indeed. Shows we're opening doors for Hitler Impersonators!

[A late arrival stumbles in, wearing a full Nazi uniform and a little black moustache.]

Attendee 2: Sorry, I'm late! I accidentally wound up at the Charlie Chaplin gathering! There was a bit of row as you would expect...Those novelty canes sting like the dickens!

Speaker: Well have a seat. We're just getting started.

[Another hand goes up in the audience.]

Speaker: Yes, yes, what is it?

Attendee 3: Excuse me, sir. I hate to interrupt the start of business, but I'm in a bit of a tizzy about the whole "Hitler" thing.

Speaker: Just what do you mean, young man?

[Attendee 3 stands up. He is a younger man, wearing a slightly lopsided Hitler moustache and a hand-painted swastika armband over a tweed sportscoat.]

Attendee 3: Well, I'm very new to the whole Hitler impersonation thing and I'm trying to find my niche in this business. However, I'm not completely convinced that Hitler impersonation is, ... well, to be honest... in good taste.

[A murmur of scandal goes up from the audience.]

Speaker: [Gesturing for calm from the audience] Now, now, we'll have no Beer Hall Putsches today! [pause for effect] That's on Thursday's agenda!!

[A laugh of relief goes up from the crowd.]

Speaker: My lad, that's a fair question, and I think we all come to this business in a variety of ways. For example, I got started in show-business impersonating Napoleon and Emperor Maximillian. After that, it was a bit of Sandinista, Castro, Idi Amin, Pinochet, and Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga. From there, I moved up to vaudeville stalwarts like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Mussolini, but finally decided to go right to the top, or bottom, as it were.

Attendee 3: [Awed] Gosh!

Speaker: Let me assure you lad, that I've never looked back and here is where the real infamous political impersonation action is!

Attendee 3: Well, all right, but I'm having real trouble finding the right kind of act. Just what kind of routines do people in this business normally do?

Speaker: Well, the limits are one's own imagination, of course. However, we generally recommend the tradional and sound entertainer's philosophically relativst path of playing to whatever audience will pay us. So, for example, Harry Johnson, what did you do at that American National Socialist Party gathering you played?

Harry: I did my Burning down the Reichstag bit, followed by the one about the piano wire!

Right, good stuff that!

Harry: They ate it up like it was schnitzel and knockwurst.

Speaker: ...And then at the opposite end of the spectrum, Jenkins...what'd you do for that Bar-Mitzvah?

Jenkins: The old "Bunker and Cyanide" routine...the one where they set fire to Hitler's body, but he's not quite dead yet!

Speaker: [chuckling to himself] Yes, yes, I remember that routine of yours. Innovative stuff that! Great slapstick ...and what pyrotechnics!

Attendee 3: Wait, so you're all not Nazis or radicals or anything?

Speaker: Heavens no! We all recognise that Hitler was a nasty, scabourous, murdering, [caption: "This description approved by the Southhampton Anti-Defimation League"] vicious, deceitful, racist, genocidal, ratbag of a man. No one here is stupid enough to endorse such policies. Well, except for Fritz, back there.

[The Speaker points to the rear of the hall]

Speaker: He actually is a Nazi.

Fritz: [distant voice from the back of the hall] Und you vill all pay for zis vhen der reich rizes again!

Speaker: Go and soak your head back in Argentina, you crazy Nazi bastard!

Attendee 3: Well, that's a relief! I thought this would be some sort of crackpot political meeting.

Speaker: Not at all... [startled] what's that!

[Suddenly, an Old Man with grey hair and a white Hitler moustache jumps onto the stage and begins wildly gesticulating to the audience.]

Old Man: You svine! You filthzee, subhuman, entertainment indoostry parazites! I am ze real Adolf Hitler! I have unly now, been releazzed from ze cryogenik freezing zat fat bastard Vinston Churchill put me in, und now I have returned to rule ze vorld!!

[With these words, the audience begins to show signs of panic. Various rumblings can be heard in the crowd.]

Fritz: [from the back of the hall, ecstastically] Mein Fuhrer!

[Suddenly, the Speaker pulls out a gun and shoots the Old Man, who falls to the ground.]

Old Man: [dying] Svinehold!!!

[The audience falls into stunned silence. After a moment, the Old Man suddenly leaps to his feet. He and the Speaker begin to laugh.]

Speaker: There's another good example of ground breaking Hitler Impersonation for you, lad! This is just "Ralph Forsythe from Ontario doing his famous "Cryogenic Hitler" bit!

[The Old Man takes a bow, to applause and sighs of relief.]

Speaker: [still chortling] Everyone can relax. If he'd been the real Hitler, I'd have had to shoot him with this gun [pulls out a second gun, a Lugar] which we keep handy in case of just such an emergency. Heh, what a grand way to begin the conference! ...Oh, could someone go and throw a cold bucket of water on Fritz's head and wake him up?


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