Ape of an Ideal

(A Short Play)

PARTS: Man, Man 2 (or Woman, Woman 2, these parts are gender neutral), as many people with ape and monkey stuffed animals as you can find (a gorilla costume would be great, preferably a pink one.)

(A man sits on a stool in the middle of the stage, a chimpanzee puppet wearing a beret with a cigarette taped to his hand sits on his lap.)

MAN: Ahem.

(The man hunches down and raises the ape to cover his face. The ape takes a drag from the cigarette, looks around, and begins.)

MAN AS APE: Hee hee hee, ho hah. Who hooah hah hah ha (and so forth, a stream of chimpanzee howling and grunting.)

(What the APE is really saying:
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!". -- Jack Kerouac, On The Road)
(The audience is filled with the sounds of beatnick applause, snapping fingers, as well as various ape and monkey sounds of applause.)

(The Chimp puppet bows. Another man enters, with an ape tied around his neck so the ape is hanging down his back.)

MAN 2: That’s a nice monkey.

MAN: Ape.

MAN 2: What?

MAN: It’s an Ape. Apes and monkeys, although both primates, are different kinds of animals. Several general variations including size, intelligence, and visual acuity distinguish the two, but the largest difference is that apes do not have tails.

MAN 2: But they all throw feces, right?

MAN: Right.

MAN 2: So what kind of ape is that?

MAN: This is Walter. He is a Chimpanzee, one of the four great apes. The others are Gorillas, Orangutans, and Humans. There are other, lesser apes, of which, the Gibbon is the smallest.

MAN 2: I saw on the news the other day that a man was bringing a birthday cake to a group of Chimps at an animal sanctuary. They all turned on him, ripped his face off, crushed his genitals, and ate one of his feet.

MAN: That’s not surprising, Chimpanzees can be quite vicious. They’re our closest relatives, genetically speaking.

MAN 2: How else would you speak?

MAN: Well, I know a little Spanish, hombre.

MAN 2: Really? How much?

MAN: Enough to be able to order tequila in a Mexican dive bar and not get the stuffing knocked out of me.

MAN 2: That’s a useful talent. Can apes learn Spanish?

MAN: I don’t see why not, although it would have to be Spanish sign language.

MAN 2: Of course.

(The first man raises the Chimpanzee in front of himself again, with the Chimp speaking to the audience.)


MAN: Ummm, sorry about that. He does that sometimes.

MAN 2: No, no, don't apologize, I like to know what's ahead for me in life.

MAN: Well, I don’t actually think we’re on the brink of a global simian revolution… but if it gets him to eat his vegetables, I’m all for it, you know?

MAN 2: Sound logic. So, why the ape fixation, anyway?

MAN: Well, as I mentioned earlier, apes can be violent. But so can a lot of animals. And while Chimpanzees as a whole are our closest relatives, there is a subset of chimps that live in the Congo, called Bonobos. Those are our absolutely closest relatives -- and these apes aren’t violent at all, and they have elaborate games and friendship rituals, all involving various sex acts.

MAN 2: Sounds awesome.

MAN: Well, yeah, except that they're endangered beyond belief, because in addition to environmental damage and human poaching, regular chimpanzees enjoy killing them too.

MAN 2: They sound like the Jews of the animal kingdom. Aside from all the sex, that is.

MAN: Right. Something like that.

MAN 2: They must be funny, then.

MAN: Well, that’s the rub. And this applies to all apes. Many animals are violent. It’s a part of the life in the whole wild scene. And all animals have to reproduce, and so much better for the ones that enjoy it. But apes laugh. And if you watch them close, you can see them telling jokes and playing pranks on each other and laughing about it. Perhaps they don’t pun, but they certainly understand schaudenfreude. And that’s why I like them so much.

MAN 2: Violence and pain and sickness and death don’t matter, as long as they can laugh?

MAN: Yeah, that’s about right. Maybe we only evolved language so we could learn to tell better jokes.

MAN 2: I don’t think we’re talking about apes anymore.

MAN: I don’t think we ever were.

(Suddenly, everyone you can possibly find rushes on stage, holding an ape or monkey puppet, stuffed animal, in a monkey or ape costume, etc.)

(Let the hooting and hollering of the primates commence for a bit, and then…)


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