[The bar hums as people mill out. Some patrons search for their debit cards, while most grumble about how terrible tonight’s open mic was. DARKLOSS VON ALUCARDIA SOULRIPPER sits in the middle of the usual booth, dressed tonight in a trendy fishnet shirt. DARKLOSS is writing on a yellow legal pad. GARY sits to DARKLOSS’s right, wearing a designer t-shirt and jeans that are designed to look like no thought went into them. SAMID sits to GARY’S right, wearing a designer t-shirt and jeans that are designed to look like no thought went into them and give them impression he likes trendy music. AESLING THE SUCCUBUS sits to DARKLOSS’s left wearing one of the flowing white harem dresses from a DRACULA REMAKE that she got for surprisingly little on eBay.]
Darkloss: What about romantic relationships? [He does not look up when asking this question.]
Samid: Highroad? Anything to do with the differences between the genders.
Gary: Lowroad? Talk about anything to do with sex.
Aesling: Say ‘fucking.’ Anything to do with ‘fucking.’ It’ll demean them more.
Darkloss: [Reading as he writes] Lowroad: anything to do with fucking.
[DARKLOSS writes all of this down, including his next question. He appears to be taking dictation of the entire conversation.]
Samid: Do you have a race, ethnicity or nationality?
Gary: I’ve got this. Lowroad: make fun of those who are not your race, ethnicity or nationality. And highroad? Make fun of yours.
Aesling: Is “You Might be a Redneck If” highbrow? I think both roads are pretty dumb here.
Samid: It’s highroad. The alternative is a white guy saying, “You Might be Hispanic If.”
Aesling: I guess you’re not going to find Hegel in stand-up.
[THE PLANET PLUTO orbits over to the table. Though it is an oblate spheroid, it has a designer t-shirt tacked to its equator, one that still has the discount tag attached. It pauses to listen.]
Pluto: What are we doing here?
Aesling: We’re making a how-to list on stand-up comedy.
Gary: The really obvious, generic stuff that fills up almost all of it.
Pluto: You guys saw? That chick sucked tonight.
Aesling: Shut up. We already did the difference between the genders.
Samid: Just had a child? Lowroad: talk about taking care of it for the first time and how this blows your mind, overwhelms you or whatever.
Darkloss: Highroad? Act like it’s just a nuisance or doesn’t matter. Cool-Dad it.
[DARKLOSS resumes writing. PLUTO wedges into the booth next to AESLING and across from SAMID.]
Gary: Do you smoke? Low road: bitch about not being able to smoke anywhere you want.
Samid: What’s highroad?
Pluto: Anecdotes about when you were high?
Samid: Making fun of yourself is a played but viable topic.
Gary: Make fun of yourself. Low road: your habits, job, relationships…
[There is an awkward silence.]
Aesling: The problem with this is the absence of a high road.
Darkloss: I’m putting it down tentatively.
Pluto: What about current events and politics?
Gary: Oh, Samid and I got this one while the open mic comedians were on. Lowroad? He, she, they or it is some variation of “dumb” or “mean.”
Samid: Highroad? Same as the low road, but sound angrier.
Gary: It’s only a perceived highroad.
Samid: But they’re all only perceived highroad, and we think seeming angry might even transcend stand-up. You can go from Lenny Bruce milking indignation all the way to Noam Chomsky being the world’s most quoted intellectual.
Gary: We also did pop culture.
Samid: Have you seen a movie, TV show, book, website, piece of technology and/or celebrity lately?
Gary: It’s actually all low road. Just slander it. This thing’s fans are dumb. It’s dumb. Reading is boring. Nothing on TV is ever good. Too many kids on Facebook. I’m on Facebook and it’s annoying.
Pluto: [To AESLING.] They’re like a tag team.
[AESLING does not appear interested in PLUTO’s advances.]
Aesling: I think there’s highroad here.
Aesling: Admit you revel in that stuff. Bill Hicks only ripped on Cops after he confessed to watching it all the time. Everything’s dumb and you love it. That’s class.
Samid: For the classless.
Darkloss: If we’re doing Hicks, what about religion?
Aesling: Religion has to be in there. Not only is it the most popular topic, but stand-up comedy has become religion for atheists. They get to stand on an elevated platform above a paying congregation that comes to listen to what they want to hear, cheers at the pauses and gets thrown out of the building if they disagree too much.
Samid: I like it. Instead of communion wine, there’s a two-drink minimum. Lowroad? Point out something implausible that happened in the Bible. It’s amazing how many guys think they’re the first to say Noah’s Ark couldn’t happen. That was clever, when Mark Twain did it in 1910.
Pluto: What’s highroad? Pointing out something shitty that a Christian did?
Aesling: I’m uncomfortable with the highroad being the eighteen thousandth pedophile priest joke.
Samid: We could say the high road is an original thought.
Darkloss: [Reading as he writes] Highroad: Sam Kinison.
[When everyone turns on him, he pulls the paper towards himself]
Darkloss: I have the pen. Fuck you. He made fun of his beliefs. That’s balls, that’s highroad.
Aesling: I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe all—
Samid: This can’t go for all religions. Islam does not get the same treatment as Christianity.
Gary: Because we’ve never heard of it before and we’re afraid you’ll blow us up.
Samid: That right there? The lowroad.
Darkloss: [Not looking up from the pad.] There we go. Islam. Lowroad? Essentially anything Gary has to say.
Samid: While highroad is pointing out that not all Muslims are terrorists, then making a bunch of jokes relating to terrorism anyway.
Aesling: And their mistreatment of women.
Samid: I’m picking up the check, dammit.
Aesling: I was actually talking about Gary and Aryana. Or are we still not talking about them?
[Gary looks down. There is another awkward silence. One that will lasts several months until the next time one of these Strange Company things happens again.]