Pyramid

by Ben

Since about November, I’ve been part of The Second City Training Centre’s comedy writing program. As we come to the end of the program, we’re shaping scenes we’ve written in order to build toward a final show on August 19 in which actors will bring our brilliance to the stage of the Second City. 

Because so many students in my class actually lasted through the entire program (nine of us in total) we’ll each have just 7 minutes of showtime in August dedicated to our individual scenes. Accordingly, a large amount of the scenes we’ve written likely won’t see the light of day–which is a shame since I think some of them were at least mildly amusing.

Some of the other writers and I are considering how to give life to a few of our scenes in the future but in the meantime, to serve as a break from all the beer writing on here, here’s a scene I wrote in March which I think has some merit. 

Pyramid
by Ben Johnson
Draft #1
March 13, 2012


BABU m
AKIL m
GUARD m
JAFARI m

BABU and AKIL are pushing a massive rectangular block.

BABU
This isn’t so bad then is it?

AKIL
Eh?

BABU
This. Not as bad as all that, is it?

AKIL
This is hell.

BABU
Ah, come on now. Working outdoors, getting exercise, the sun on our faces. Could be a lot worse.

AKIL
I sleep in a cage.
I haven’t seen my wife in four years. How could this possibly be worse?

BABU
You gotta see the big picture, Akil. How long have we been building this pyramid?

AKIL
Seven years.

BABU
Seven years! That’s job security is what that is. Look at the rest of the people in Egypt. The soldiers that defend the river– they never know what they’re going to get. They might be killed by desert Nomads. The carpet weavers, they don’t know if anyone wants to buy a carpet that day. The jeweler might not find a customer for his stones, either. But what about you and me, Akil? What do we get to do every day?

AKIL
Push a rock.

BABU
That’s right! We push the rock.
Every day, we get up and we know this rock is waiting here for us. We’ll push this rock all the way to the top of the pyramid and when we do, guess what’s in store for us?

AKIL
Another rock.

BABU
Another rock!
Guaranteed!
Some people would kill for that kind of certainty.
I tell you it’s grand, Akil.

Noticing he stopped pushing to talk, a GUARD appears on stage and cracks a whip across BABU’s back.

GUARD
Get back to work!

GUARD leaves.

BABU
Ah! Stings!
OK. Don’t have to tell me twice boss! Back to work! Thanks!

AKIL
Why are you so nice to the guard, he just cut your back open with a whip. He’s a fucking sadist.

BABU
Who, Steve?
Nah. Steve’s a good guy. We played softball last week. He’s just doing his job.

AKIL
His job is to help enslave tens of thousands and to work them to death.

BABU
Yeah, but that’s just what he does that’s not who he is. Being a guard doesn’t make him a bad person.
Would it be fair if someone called you a “rock pusher?”

AKIL
Yes. It’s literally the only thing I do.

BABU
Ah, come on Akil. You have to see the big picture.
Like us, Steve’s just serving the Pharoah Khufu, and what could be more fulfilling than that at the end of the day?

AKIL
Bread, cool water, the touch of a woman, seeing my children’s faces-

BABU
Come on. I’m serious. Look at this thing we’re building! For the king! This is exciting!

AKIL
He’s a cruel and horrible king! He enslaved his people to build this monument on the first day of his reign!

BABU
You’ve got to appreciate that kind of foresight, Akil. I mean you don’t see a lot of politicians with such an ability to think long-term.

AKIL
This is true.
But still, how you can justify imprisoning so many people just to build a pyramid at the whim of some 20 year old king?

BABU
Don’t think of it as building a pyramid. Think of it as building history!
I tell you it’s inspiring.

JAFARI
Whatever.
I just put my head down, push the stone, and try not to think about the fact that I’m building a tomb.

BABU
Oh, Akil. You’ll never-
Wait, what do you mean, a tomb?

AKIL
We’re building Pharoah Khufu’s tomb.

BABU
What? No we’re not. This is a magnificent structure. It’s going to at least take 20 years to build. Surely we’re building this for the people of Egypt to enjoy. It’s gotta be like a community centre or a mall or something.
Surely it’s not just a tomb.

AKIL
It’s a tomb, man.

BABU
Are you fucking kidding me?

BABU stops pushing the stone.

GUARD appears and lashes BABU’s back.

GUARD
Get back to work!

BABU
Ah fuck, Steve! Give me a minute would you?
Akil, are you shitting me? We’re building this thing for the Pharoah’s corpse?

AKIL
Yes.

BABU
One dude?! Why is it so big, then?

GUARD lashes BABU’s back

GUARD
Back to work!

BABU
Damn it, Steve! I get it!

AKIL
It’s big because they fill it with riches for the after life.

BABU
Oh this is just fucking rich! So we bust our balls building a 48-story high gravestone for this king, and the son of a bitch isn’t even going to leave anything behind for us? What a fucking waste!

GUARD
This is your last warning.

AKIL
Babu…

BABU
No, no, Akil. This is bullshit. I want to talk to somebody. Steve-

BABU marches over to the GUARD who promptly snaps BABU’s neck and kills him.

GUARD
Send another slave to the front of the line!

JAFARI enters and begins pushing the stone with AKIL

JAFARI
Hi, how are you? Name’s Jafari! Beautiful day to be building a pyramid, isn’t it?

AKIL
Son of a bitch.

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