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by David Sparenberg
2015-12-17 09:42:05
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LAZZO – a Bad Joke for Two Puppets
in the manner of a botta e risposta of the Commedia dell’arte

1: So what are you going to call me?

2. I will call you, Slave.

puppet01_4001. No, not that!  The word is too out of date.

2. Slave-boy!

1. No!  Not Slave-boy!

2. Ok.  How about Automaton?

1.  Don’t be ridiculous.  You are such a babbling romantic.  Automaton?  That word has lost all of its meaning.
(No.1 begins to wiggle and squirm.)

2. What’s going on with you?  Do you have worms?

1. I feel like somebody has a hand up inside me—doing five finger exercises.

2. It’s what I said: worms.

1. Discipline—rigidity—totalitarian discipline, and biting the lip hard.

2. Ah!  Maybe it is not a worm.  Maybe you need evacuation.

1. Evacuation?  And what then?  If I evacuate do I become you?
(They stop and glare at one another murderously.)

2. So?

1. So, I am still waiting.

2. Who are you waiting for?

1. For you.

2. For me?  What for?

1. For you to give me my name.  To pronounce it trippingly on the tongue, with a smoothness.

2. Ah! I think I’ve got it.

1. Got it?  Got what?  Is it contagious?

2.  If it is you will be the first to know.

1. If I had the resources, I would glue your face to the wall.

2. It is only a mask, not a face.

1. Then I would glue you and your mask to the wall.

2. Why?

1. Because.

2. Ok.

1. Now, do you know what to call me?  Or do you not know what to call me?

2. Yes, I know.

1. And?

2. And I will call you One of the Living Dead.  Not a sleepwalker because that is a term belonging to an earlier era. But One of the Living Dead.  It’s contemporary!

1. At last you are getting warm.

2. You are, both henceforth and forthwith, to say here-to-after and thus to thus: One of the Living Dead.

1. You don’t get warmer by repeating it.  Besides I only said, getting warm.  You don’t impress by being flamboyant, putting on airs.  It does not sit well.  It does not make you lustrous.

2. Ok!  Then let me have a nap and think about this.  (Instantly sleeps.)

1. Wake up!

2. I am awake.  And I have the perfect name.  Perfect because it is right, correct; it is true to form and it fits.

1. And it is?

2. Zombie.

1. Zombie!  At last you have arrived.  Do I look the part?

2. Every bit.

1. Thank you.  (They shake hands.)

2. Zombie!

1. Yes?

2. Zombie!

1. You have said such already.

2. And Zombie—Mr. Zombie, Herr Zombie, Monsieur Zombie, Senor Zombie, Don Zombie, Donna Zombie, mi Lord, mi Lady, Zombie—what is your affiliation?

1. Affiliation?

2. Yes.  Where do you stand?  On which side of the line: your philosophy, ideology, your sexual preference and so on?

1. You mean?

2. Yes: you are a Zombie of…?

1. (Long pause.) Zombie of Apocalypse.

2. An apocalyptic Zombie?

1. I have said: a Zombie of Apocalypse.

2. Well, I am disappointed.  And I think we are finished here.

1. Finished?  You’re not kidding! And that is not much of a joke to end on.

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Emanuel Paparella2015-12-18 04:06:14
Indeed, the uniqueness of Commedia dell’Arte consists in being bereft of the constrains of a script. As “botta and risposta” aptly suggests, the conversations of the Commedia dell’arte sound authentic prcisely because they are true to life, they remain open-handed and are not frozen in time by a script. Come to think of it, that was the reason why Socrates refuses to put anything in writing. He wished to sound authentic and considered himself a conversationalist in search of truth, not a writer and not a rhetorician (a Sophist) out to win the argument.

The paradox of the above is that such a spontaneous conversation is occurring between two zombies or living dead; between those who look and sound human and rational but are in reality bereft of consciousness and therefore are also bereft of humanity. Only art is capable of such paradoxes and strange juxtapositions that transcend even logic and rationality by the power of pure aestheticism.

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