The Royal Jester is taking his first vacation in ten years. His temporary replacement, Mitch, is a big hit with the Queen and her daughters. Unbeknownst to the court, Mitch’s jokes are ghostwritten by his sister Rosalyn, who poses as Mitch’s servant. The Jester sees that his job is in danger and trouble ensues as the Royal Jester tries to steal Mitch’s jokes. Rosalyn goes on strike, so in desperation, Mitch steals the Jester’s jokes. Mitch woos the three princesses using the Jester’s jokes, and it ends up being no laughing matter in this madrigal dinner script.
(A conversation between Bert the Jester and the King.)
BERT: It was very kind of you to see me off, your majesty, but I will be gone only a week. You must not be so downcast.
KING: It will seem longer. Let’s face it, Bert. You are the only one who understands me. I am surrounded by women.
BERT: You are surrounded by the very flower of womanhood. Their perfumed presence . . .
KING: But that’s just it! Flowers! Perfume! Doilies! I have doilies on the armrests of the royal throne!
BERT: Doilies on the armrests of the royal throne?
KING: The Queen said something or other about the grease stains on my sleeves tarnishing the gold.
BERT: Well, a few feminine touches around the castle . . .
KING: A FEW feminine touches? Potpourri in bowls. Embroidered pillows that you cannot lay your head on. I’ve got a SKIRT on my bed, Jester. A SKIRT!
JESTER: Well, skirts on beds can be handy. You know, for, uh, if the bed ever wants to curtsey.
KING: I liked the castle better when I was a bachelor.
JESTER: (They both reminisce, getting misty eyed.) The bearskin rugs before the fireplace . . .
KING: The deer antler candelabras . . .
JESTER: The tables and chairs were wine casks . . .
KING: With the wine still in them.
JESTER: Ah, those were the days.
KING: And now? And now I am the butt of jokes as far away as Rome. Do you know what the bishop there calls me? “Abbas of tantum filia.”
BERT: Abs of titanium, sire? That is hardly an insult. I have heard of abs of steel, but titanium?
KING: It’s Latin. It means “father of only daughters.” I told the clerics in Rome that I had three daughters, and they were buying me drinks left and right. In sympathy! They also spent a good deal of time toasting celibacy.
BERT: My lord, you simply need someone to commiserate with, someone to talk to in my absence. (To audience.) I seek a man with only daughters. Many daughters. Is there some noble among you who can console our king? (If the audience has not given up someone, JESTER may choose someone whom you’ve targeted ahead of time. JESTER goes into audience.) You, sir. Your king is in need of male companionship. You have daughters. Come with me; let us cheer up our king. (JESTER brings audience member to the stage.) My king, this noble is another sonless—
KING: Sonny, you say? (To audience member.) Sonny. That is an unusual name. From what noble line are you descended? (Waits for response. Improv with answer.) I don’t believe I’ve heard of that house. You’re not from France, are you? (Improv with answer.) A man with only daughters in your court, eh?
BERT: You see, my king, you are not alone. Here is a noble whose castle is also filled with ladies.
KING: Tell me, then. How many women are in your household? (Audience member answers. If it is more than four, react with great shock. Otherwise, continue to give your sympathy.) Bring this poor lord a large ale! (PAGE enters with goblet and pitcher. Pours into goblet and hands it to audience member.) Drink up, good man! I understand your pain. (Puts arm around audience member’s shoulder.) Do not misunderstand. I love my queen and daughters. But, tell me, sir, what do you do to survive your days surrounded by women? (Improvise with answer. To PAGE.) More ale. (PAGE refills the goblet.) Where do you escape when your wife wants to do something . . . hopelessly sentimental? For example, my wife loves to go to the barn to watch newborn chickens get licked playfully by our newborn calves.
BERT: No! Not a chick lick?
KING: Exactly. What do you do, good man, when you wife wants to see a chick lick? (Improv with answer.)
BERT: Now be honest. Do you ever find yourself, not exactly crying, but maybe choking up a bit during a chick lick? (Improv with answer. To PAGE.) More ale. Give this man plenty of ale. (PAGE refills the goblet. Encourage the man to keep drinking.)
KING: And, good sir, how do you handle that most dangerous . . .
BERT: Perilous . . .
KING: And treacherous of questions? What do you say, honestly now, what do you say when your wife asks you that dreaded question . . . “Does this dress make me look fat?” (Improv with answer.)
BERT: (To KING.) Do you even want to answer that question?
KING: Of course not! Take my advice. It is wiser to do as I do when my wife asks me if a garment makes her look fat. (Looks around.) I go on a crusade. After four or five years, she will have forgotten the question. (To PAGE.) More ale. (PAGE refills goblet.)
BERT: Well, my King, it appears that you have found a kindred spirit.
KING: Indeed, good Jester. In fact, I will avail myself of Lord Sonny’s wisdom throughout your absence. (To PAGE.) Keep this man’s goblet full throughout the night.
BERT: Most wise, my King. Let us all send this man to his seat with a toast. (BERT and the KING raise their glasses, prompting everyone to join them.)
KING: Abbas of tantum filia!
BERT: To celibacy! (They direct audience member back to his seat.) Goodbye, sire.