A SPEC SCRIPT FOR STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP

by Brandon Hackett

 

 

INT:  STUDIO 60

 

Crewmembers hurry to paint sets and secure props for the upcoming broadcast of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which goes live in two hours.

Gazing through a window overlooking the bustling studio floor stands genius comedy writer and Aaron Sorkin surrogate MATT ALBIE.

45, medium-height and saggy everywhere like a balloon filled with wet rice, he is somehow irresistible to all women.  We know this because Aaron Sorkin specified this in the show bible, especially noting that anytime he appears onscreen, all the female viewers would, quote, “be creaming they jeans.” A footnote adds that he should always threaten male viewers’ masculinity and cause them to seriously question their sexuality.

 

MATT

I’m a genius.

 

He says this out loud to no one.  Just then, TOM, one of Studio 60’s “big three performers,” walks in.

 

TOM

Matt, I need your help!

 

Somehow the mixture of his soft, twinky face and frame, coupled with the utter drabness of his personality, has conspired to make Tom one of the most popular stars on the show.  Although, to be honest, when the skill of the Studio 60 ensemble can best be described as “teens putting on skits at camp,” this is probably not that notable an accomplishment.

 

SIMON

Matt, I need a second pair of eyes on this!

 

HARRIET

Matt.  A word.

 

Following Tom into Matt’s office are the show’s other two big stars: SIMON STILES and HARRIET HAYES, two characters that are about as fully-realised and three-dimensional as their comically alliterative names would suggest.

 

ALL

Help me! / Save me! / Matt!

 

MATT

One at a time!  Tom—you first.

 

TOM

I’ve been working on a couple characters.  Can I run them by you?

 

MATT

Go.

 

TOM

(Doesn’t change his voice)

“Hello, I’m Marlon Brando.”

 

MATT

(Drily, humourlessly)

That’s funny.

 

TOM

(Identical to Marlon Brando)

“Hello, I’m Justin Bieber.”

 

MATT

That’s funny.

 

TOM

“Hello, I’m an Englishman.”

 

MATT

That’s funny.

 

TOM

“Hello, I’m an Englishman, but different.”

 

MATT

That’s funny.

 

TOM

Thank you.

 

TOM walks out of the office, showin’ dat fine ass.

 

SIMON

Matt, I don’t know if this monologue I’m writing about black identity is hitting the mark.  Could you give it a once-over?

 

MATT

Why are you asking me?  I’m not African American.

 

SIMON

Matt, I don’t mean this in a racial way, but you are the white light that contains all colours.

 

MATT

I just needed to hear it from you.

 

MATT takes a look at the script.  He pulls out a sharpie and writes one single word in the middle of the page.

 

Now it’s funny.

 

SIMON

Thanks!  Yipeee!

 

SIMON bounds away, doing cartwheels out of the office.

 

HARRIET

Matt, I think it’s absurd that you insist we do this twelve minute long sketch in the style of Japanese bunraku theatre.

 

HARRIET holds up a giant, beautifully crafted Japanese puppet.  It’s the size of her and you can see the panic in the actor Sarah Paulson’s eyes as she struggles to hold it up.

 

Firstly, we’re doing a stylistic homage to Monzaemon Chikimatsu but our plot structure more closely resembles the kabuki style. Secondly, will the audience even find this funny?

 

MATT

No.  They won’t.  Because the main point of satire isn’t to be funny.  It’s to strike at the core of who we are as human beings and rustle the very fabric of society.

 

HARRIET

Okay… I just don’t see why we couldn’t find a more relevant way to satirize Zayn Malik leaving One Direction.

 

MATT

You have a lot to learn, my former girlfriend.

 

HARRIET

I guess you’re right.  After all, I am a wo… (squinting at an offscreen cue card) … I’m not saying that, Aaron.  No, I am not saying that.  I don’t care if it is in the script, I refuse to debase myself just because you’re insecure about being dumped by Kristin Chenoweth—

 

Two stagehands smuggle her offstage.

 

Halp!  Halp!  My name is Sarah Paulson!  I’m trapped on this show!  Send help to the NBC studio in Burbank Califor—

 

As she is dragged off set, a man in United States Military regalia enters.  The medals on his jacket indicate that he is a high-ranking official.

 

GENERAL

Matt Albie?

 

MATT

Who’s asking?

 

GENERAL

I’m William Walker, General.

 

MATT

General what?

 

GENERAL

General of the United States Military.  What other kind of general is there?

 

MATT

General nuisances.

 

GENERAL

Touché.  If your sketch-writing is half as good as your caustic, off-the-cuff wit, America may stand a fighting chance.

 

MATT

What are you talking about?

 

GENERAL

At 0900 hours this morning, the White House was captured by ISIS.

 

General Walker points at a T.V. monitor in one corner of the room that’s been on the whole time.  Four masked men with guns and swords hold a group of White House staffers, including President Obama, hostage.  The leader steps forward.

 

ISIS LEADER

People of America, ISIS has successfully taken your White House.  At sundown, we will execute your precious president.  There is no hope.  We have WON!

 

MATT turns the T.V. off.

 

MATT

Why’ve you come to me?

 

GENERAL

We at the Pentagon have been keeping an eye on you.  Ever since we saw your infamous sketch “Crazy Christians” and its offshoot sketches “Zany Zionists” and “Dumb Disagreers With of Affirmative Action,” we’ve believed that your on-the-nose comedy writing holds the power to affect the world, big-styles.

 

MATT

You still haven’t answered my question.

 

GENERAL

Goddamnit, we need you to skewer those sons-of-bitches like they’ve never been skewered before!  Maybe then they’ll give up this absurd tirade against the Western-and-therefore-correct-World!

 

MATT

I guess I could shit out a script.

 

A long beat.  MATT grunts.  Then a fifteen-page script slides down out of his left pant leg.  He kicks it over to the General.  The General, initially disgusted, finally picks it up and reads the cover page.  In big, bold letters in the centre of the page are three words:

 

“This is Funny.”

 

MATT

Tell the folks in the control room we’re cutting the entire final half hour of the show and slotting this in instead.

 

GENERAL

Could someone else tell them?  I don’t know how anything works here.

 

CUT TO:  Later That Night

 

MATT and GENERAL WALKER watch the show live from MATT’s office.  TOM and SIMON are performing the soon-to-be-classic sketch, “Idiotic ISIS.”

 

TOM

Hello, I’m Nicolas Cage, and I’d like to apply for a job in ISIS.

 

SIMON

Have you had any previous terrorism experience?

 

TOM

Some might consider the film Face/Off to be an act of domestic terrorism.

 

AUDIENCE

Hahahahahahahaha…

 

GENERAL

So far so good…

 

MATT

Just wait until we get to the part where Nicolas Cage gives a twenty-five minute speech criticizing extremism from the perspectives of both religious fundamentalists and Wall Street capitalists.

 

GENERAL

Matt Albie, I just want to thank you for your service to your country.  You will forever be considered an American hero.

 

MATT

You know what I think about that?

 

GENERAL

What?

 

MATT just farts.  It’s an incredibly long fart.  The camera cuts to General Walker staring blankly at MATT.  Then it cuts to MATT staring blankly at General Walker.  Then it cuts to a wide shot of them staring at each other.

 

MATT stops farting.

 

Then he farts again.  This time, it’s twice as long.

 

They wait.

 

And wait.

 

And wait.

 

MATT finishes farting.

 

MATT

Fuck you.

 

End Credits.  Everyone is credited as Alan Smithee.

 

The End.


Brandon Hackett is a comedian and writer based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  He performs with the Second City Education Company and writes and performs in the weekly show Sunday Night Live with The Sketchersons.  He also does stand-up.