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Scroll Talk!
by Ron Southan (lmn12@verizon.net)

Rated: PG   Genre: Comedy   User Review: **
I was wanting to make a 6 minute skit satire of a movie review program. As I got involved in reviewing the Bible I found it hard to stop. Please feel free to offer suggestions for a different ending.


This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.



SCROLL TALK!

FADE IN:

INT. DESERT TENT - DAY
                                                            
                       AN
      (excitedly)
And now once again it's time for
your weekly review of recently
found scrolls, Scroll Talk!
                                                            
Sound of small crowd clapping politely.
                                                            
                       AN
Let's give a warm, Dead Sea
welcome for your hosts; James and
Caleb!
                                                            
Applause gets louder and a few whistles are heard.
James and Caleb walk onto a small stage, acknowledge the
crowd and take seats behind a table laden with scrolls.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Thank you,thank you all.
Welcome to Scroll Talk, I'm James
and this is Caleb.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Thanks, for such a warm welcome.
This week James and I have been
reading a compilation of old
Scrolls found in this very area.
                                                            
                       JAMES
They've been assembled into a
general time line and when I say
assembled I do not mean edited in
any way!
                                                            
                       CALEB
A decent editor could have made a
large sum of shekels getting these
scrolls in order.
It's no wonder there's no authors
willing to put their names to this
erratic story line.
                                                            
                       JAMES
The first book, Genesis, cries out
for more detail. The creation of
the universe is presented nicely
and straight forward but the two
            (MORE)

2.

                       JAMES (cont'd)
main characters, Adam and Eve are
not developed at all!
                                                            
                       CALEB
These are the first persons in the
world and we know so little about
them!
What do they like to do? Are they
creative? Are they passionate with
each other?
                                                            
                       JAMES
We definitely read the same book
this time. What drives these
people?
Why did Eve eat the forbidden
fruit?
                                                            
                       CALEB
      (sarcastically)
I think if you let a snake talk
you into doing anything, you've
probably been eating a few too
many of those mushrooms at the
bottom of the garden!
                                                            
some laughter is heard from the audience.
                                                            
                       JAMES
My feeling exactly!
Also, if animals are going to
talk, let's be consistent and have
them all talk.
Plus the punishment hardly fit the
crime.
Banishment from a life of ease and
leisure and forced out of the
garden of Eden forever.
But details, we're lacking
details.
They have two sons. One's a
farmer, the others a shepherd.
They both make a sacrifice to the
Lord of their own wares, but the
Lord prefers the burnt lamb to the
veggies. This upsets Cain, the
vegetable farmer and in a bit of
an overreaction, he kills his
brother, Able.
                                                            

3.

                       CALEB
Makes me think if the brothers had
worked together and made a nice
combination plate of roast lamb
and garden vegetables they might
both be alive today!
                                                            
                       JAMES
But without the conflict, there
wouldn't be a story. And speaking
of stories, this one makes a large
jump! At this point I'm thinking
o.k., there are three people in
the whole world then all of a
sudden Cain, the murderous brother
has a wife!
                                                            
                       CALEB
Yes! Where did she come from?!
Is she a sister? Is there an
incest angle here? What other
people were lurking out there we
were never told about?
Details author please!
                                                            
                       JAMES
I kept rolling the scroll back and
forth thinking I had missed a few
feet of writing but I hadn't.
Again, no author, no editor, no
one to blame.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Well if the first part of this
book was short on detail the next
few stories have it in spades.
                                                            
                       JAMES
More details than you can shake a
burnt offering at and there will
be plenty of those too, I assure
you.
                                                            
                       CALEB
We're presented with a long list
of "begettings" like "Adam was 130
years old when his son Seth was
born and he lived another 800
years producing sons and
daughters, and died at the age of
930."
                                                            

4.

                       JAMES
Thats old!
                                                            
                       CALEB
That's still 20 years shy of Noah
who made it to 950 and a downright
tragic young death compared to
Methuselah's 969 years.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Well I think building that ark
probably knocked a few years off
of Moses's life.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Saving humanity and a breeding
pair of every living animal is
quite a responsibility; not to
mention building that ark to God's
specifications.
                                                            
                       JAMES
He'd just as soon smote you as let
you get away with a one cubit
difference in length.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Now here was where we started
seeing too much detail in the
length of the boat, what type of
wood to make it out of etc. etc.
I wished the author had given us
some details on how the animals
were cared for and if the lions
ever eyed the sheep hungrily...
You know there had to be some
tension going on below decks.
                                                            
                       JAMES
I'm going to disagree with you
here as I was actually interested
in how the boat was designed and
built. Remember, the lord just
rattled off the details and Noah
had nothing to write them down on.
He had to work from memory for a
very exacting boss.
I think any more time spent on
the animals would have interfered
with the narrative.
                                                            

5.

                       CALEB
I'm just saying, you've got a boat
full of disparate animals;
there must of been some excitement
in there somewhere.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Did you say excrement?
We know there was plenty of that!
                                                            
sound of laughter from crowd.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Well it turns out after the flood
is over Noah plants a vineyard and
makes wine. Ever the
perfectionist, he did his own
quality control. One day as he's
passed out drunk and naked in his
tent, his son Ham has his brothers
Shem and Japheth cover his naked
body.
Now at this point Noah is at
least 605 years old so I'm
guessing he was not a pleasant
sight laying in a drunken stupor
with wine stains all over him.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Just imagine the nose and ear hair
that sprouts on a man of 600!
                                                            
                       CALEB
I could have done without that
image!
                                                            
Laughter heard from audience
                                                            
                       CALEB
So when Noah comes to, instead of
quietly thanking his children for
saving him some embarrassment, he
puts a curse on his own son Ham
and his descendants to forever be
the slaves of Shem and Japheth!
                                                            
                       JAMES
I was surprised by this twist
myself. Now Ham's descendants are
called the Canaanites and they
continually appear throughout the
scrolls.
They provide cubits of
entertainment in later scrolls and
            (MORE)

6.

                       JAMES (cont'd)
are often the point of conflict
with tribes of Isreal.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Being as how he's a son of Noah
wouldn't he technically be the
head of a tribe of Isreal?
                                                            
                       JAMES
You're letting obscure details and
facts get in the way of the plot.
Loosen up and just go with the
story!
Sometimes a reader just has to
suspend his disbelief.
                                                            
                       CALEB
      (sarcastically)
I don't think one person can
suspend enough disbelief for these
scrolls. Eventually their excess
weight will come crashing down on
your head and could cause
permanent damage.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Like what?
                                                            
                       CALEB
Well, you might start believing
them!
                                                            
Caleb stares at James, then turns to another scroll.
                                                            
                       CALEB
This next story uses the old
"Child in danger" plot that I
think is such a cheap way to get a
reader's interest that I hardly
want to mention it.
Let's just say that Abraham hears
a voice in his head and nearly
slaughters and barbeque's his own
son. I know if my father had done
that to me he wouldn't have seen
me ever again; even at high
holidays.
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (incredulously)
What translation are you reading
there?
                                                            

7.

                       CALEB
      (comparing scrolls)
It's the same one you got. From a
scribe with no name.
                                                            
                       JAMES
You're referring to the main "A
number one" prophet of three
religions as a loony who hears
voices in his head?
                                                            
                       CALEB
And attempts to kill his son!
                                                            
James stares at Caleb, throws his hands up.
                                                            
                       JAMES
I'm glad you didn't write these
stories or it be all "What a
lovely day, shall we spin the
driedle for four hours then take a
nap?"
                                                            
                       CALEB
I don't think it's something the
Greeks would use, that's all.
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (with disgust)
You and your Greeks. I think
you've always had a thing for
Athena anyway.
And not a healthy thing either!
                                                            
                       CALEB
Do you want to take the next
scroll?
                                                            
                       JAMES
I'm going to jump over some
incest, Some guy named Lot
offering a crowd of strangers his
virgin daughters so they don't
harass his visiting angels,
Joseph's brothers selling him as a
slave, Joseph coming to power in
Egypt, taking the farmers
livestock, crops and land and
turning them into slaves for the
Pharaoh and get right to the big
legal issue of those days, Moses v
Pharaoh and thousands of innocent
bystanders.
                                                            

8.

Caleb fumbles through scrolls, knocking some off of the
table and looking on in alarm as they unroll on the floor.
                                                            
                       CALEB
You're skipping over poor
parenting, people turning to stone
and brothers betraying another
brother? You're ignoring Joseph's
rise in the political and business
world for what?
To get to plagues, minor league
conjuring, death and destruction?
                                                            
                       JAMES
Oh, I guess turning individual
grains of sand into gnats is minor
league conjuring? Making the
waters of the mighty Nile turn to
blood is simple sleight of hand?
                                                            
                       CALEB
What bothers me the most about
this whole story is that the Lord
has all this power and just wants
to show it off.
I mean every time Moses pulls off
a neat trick the Pharaoh says
"Take your people, your livestock
and leave." But then the Lord
hardens the Pharaoh's heart and he
changes is mind and won't let them
leave; so Moses has to up the ante
again and the Lord kills all the
first born Egyptian children until
the Pharaoh says "Get out!" Moses
gets ready to leave and the Lord
hardens the Pharoah's heart again.
                                                            
                       JAMES
So what's your point?
                                                            
                       CALEB
Well since the Lord can harden the
Pharaoh's heart he could also have
softened it and avoided the whole
ugly affair. A simple softening of
the heart and the Pharaoh could
have let Moses and his people go a
lot earlier in the narrative and
avoided what I think was senseless
violence and cheap special
effects.
                                                            

9.

                       JAMES
Oh sure, I could read it now.
"Well Moses, you and your friends
have a lovely trip. Here's a few
parting gifts of gold and jewelry
for everyone and should you like
the military to go on ahead and
make boats so you can cross the
Red Sea easier?"
                                                            
                       CALEB
      (showing interest)
That would make the Pharaoh a much
more sympathetic character.
                                                            
                       JAMES
A pathetic character maybe, it'd
make him a pathetic character
alright.
                                                            
James turns to the audience directly.
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (with enthusiasm)
Who here would rather have an
exciting, violent story about
complicated, flawed characters or
a contest between two culturally
different tribes over who could be
the most polite?
                                                            
James waves his arms in an upward motion and the crowd
cheers loudly.
                                                            
                       CALEB
I think they could still be flawed
and complex characters without
having all the gratuitous
violence.
                                                            
                       JAMES
What about the incest and
gratuitous sex?
                                                            
                       CALEB
      (chuckling)
They're welcome to keep that in!
                                                            
James and the crowd laugh appreciably.
                                                            
                       JAMES
But seriously folks, the story of
Moses is a road trip extrodinaire.
Now that Caleb has given away much
            (MORE)

10.

                       JAMES (cont'd)
of the lead in I shall have to
start at what I consider the
climax in the flight from Egypt;
God parting the Red Sea so Moses
and his merry band can escape the
fast advancing Egyptian chariots.
                                                            
James looks over at Caleb.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Cheap effect Caleb? Parting the
sea an example of second rate
conjouring?
                                                            
Caleb looks at James and shrugs his shoulders.
James looks back to the audience.
                                                            
                       JAMES
God then waits till the Egyptians
enter the parted sea bottom and
lets the sea reform as it was
before, drowning countless men and
horses.
                                                            
                       CALEB
You would think that the
commanding officers of the
charioteers might have stopped for
a second and said "Hello, this
doesn't appear normal. Perhaps we
should have a quick conference,
consult a few Gods and mull this
one over before rushing headstrong
into what is obviously not
something we studied at chariot
school."
                                                            
James looks over at Caleb with disbelief.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Fortunately for the story line,
the Egyptians were men of action,
unlike yourself, and pursued their
foes.
                                                            
                       CALEB
I think if the Pharaoh were
allowed to chase Moses and his
tribe across the desert, there
could be any number of dangerous
situations and narrow escapes. It
would be interesting then to see
the two bitter enemies develop a
            (MORE)

11.

                       CALEB (cont'd)
grudging respect for each other.
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (facing audience)
Well when you consider that these
people seem to reach an average
age of six hundred and forty seven
that could amount to more chase
scenes than you could fit on all
the scrolls in existence.
I think the author made a wise
move and ended that rivalry right
then.
It's not like Moses doesn't face
some more excitement on his road
trip.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Yes, it takes forty years for God
to lead them two hundred miles to
the promised land. I think after
ten I would have asked for a map
and gone off without God.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Oh, abandon the supreme being that
led you out of slavery just
because he has no sense of
direction?
                                                            
                       CALEB
I wouldn't be rude about it! Just
something like "Hey Lord, I know
you're busy and you've done a
smashing job so far but if there's
something else that needs your
attention; how about just giving
us a map and let's see if we can't
find our own way and save you a
bit of bother."
                                                            
                       JAMES
You're referring to a being that
smites people and torments their
next four generations for
sacrificing a non perfect lamb.
                                                            
                       CALEB
You'd have to catch him in a good
mood or when he was busy with
something else.
                                                            

12.

                       JAMES
Is he ever in a good mood in these
scrolls?
                                                            
                       CALEB
He seemed approachable when he was
dictating to Moses the assembly
instructions for that temple
interior.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Talk about dreary detailed writing
there! Arm length after arm length
of "make the curtains this many
cubits high by this many wide, sew
them together this way with this
trim" etc. etc. etc.
                                                            
                       CALEB
      (looking at James)
Etc. etc. etc. etc
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (looking at Caleb)
Etc. etc. etc...
                                                            
They both start laughing.
                                                            
                       JAMES
If you thought it was an awful
slog reading this tripe, imagine
how it must have been to a scribe
having to copy it!
                                                            
                       CALEB
      (Imitating a
       scribe)
Didn't I just copy this three
forearm lengths ago? Was I doing
the front curtains or the side
curtains? Were the entrails to be
burnt or thrown against the alter?
                                                            
Caleb pretends to rapidly roll a scroll back and forth.
The audience and James laugh appreciably.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Well somewhere in the midst of the
overly detailed instructions,
Moses spends forty days and nights
with the Lord on a mountain top.
                                                            

13.

                       CALEB
Forty days and nights being the
same length of time that the Lord
had it rain to flood the earth.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Coincidence?
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (with Caleb)
I don't think so!
                                                            
James and Caleb laugh together.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Oh to have been a fly on a rock up
there.
                                                            
James waves his arms about to chase of a fly.
                                                            
                       JAMES
That's one thing I'd of brought
up. "Lord, why did you have Noah
take two flies with him? How do
they glorify you?"
                                                            
                       CALEB
Well, when Moses comes off the
mountain he finds the people
dancing around a gold calf he
melts it down, grinds it up and
makes a drink out of it and forces
the people to drink it. Then he
gets the Levites to slaughter
three thousand of there own sons,
brothers, friends and neighbors.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Again, quite a twist. One would
think you'd be safe amongst your
own family and friends.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Not with this bunch! They'd have
had a better chance of survival
walking down a dark alley back in
Egypt while carrying a "Pyramids
are Square" sign.
                                                            
                       JAMES
Well that goes without saying
doesn't it?
                                                            

14.

                       CALEB
What do you mean?
                                                            
                       JAMES
Well if it's a dark alley no one
will be able to read the sign will
they?
                                                            
Caleb blushes at his mistake and the crowd laughs.
                                                            
                       JAMES
One could also the sign to give
somebody a good bonk on the head
too. Not a bad idea that; carrying
a sign everywhere.
                                                            
                       CALEB
Moving on; as Moses continues to
carry out God's wishes, he
compromises his own humanity and
eventually becomes what we would
consider a war criminal.
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (with disbelief)
What?
                                                            
                       CALEB
When he takes the big step to
become a war criminal, I would
like to have read about any
internal torment the he may have
dealt with.
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (glaring at Caleb)
What?
                                                            
                       CALEB
Well, I would think that when
someone, even your God, orders you
to have your warriors kill all the
men, women and children of a city;
it would bounce around your brain
a bit before you could justify it.
                                                            
                       JAMES
It's God talking you idiot!
There's nothing to justify! And
when does Moses become a war
criminal?
                                                            

15.

                       CALEB
      (taken back a bit)
I believe it was around Numbers 31
when they warred against Midian.
The warriors killed all the men
and brought the women, children
and spoils back to Moses.
                                                            
James is now furiously rolling and unrolling scrolls.
                                                            
                       CALEB
And Moses said "Now therefore kill
every male among the little ones,
and kill every woman that hath
known man by lying with him. But
all the women children, that have
not known a man by lying with him,
keep alive for yourselves."
I got the feeling they weren't
going to remain virgins for long.
Combine that with the slaughter of
everyone else and bingo! You've
got a war criminal.
                                                            
                       JAMES
You're honestly suggesting, that
this great hero that was only
serving his unpredictable at best
God, was a war criminal? Moses?
                                                            
                       VOICE
      (with anger)
That's not right!
                                                            
                       CALEB
I think in general that slaughter,
rape and theft are criminal
activities.
Who could argue with that?
                                                            
Murmuring and arguing now coming from audience.
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (Standing and
       loudly)
We're talking about Moses you
twit!
                                                            
                       CALEB
Well God didn't like him that much
did he? He didn't let him step
foot on the promised land!
                                                            

16.

                       VOICE
God's a wanker!
                                                            
                       JAMES
No one's passing judgment, we're
just reviewing some writing here.
                                                            
A nervous James and Caleb are standing and facing the
audience.
James picks up a scroll.
                                                            
                       OTHER
God is great and merciful! I'll
kill anyone who doesn't agree with
me!
                                                            
                       CALEB
Look, none of the men who
originally fled Egypt got to step
on the promised land.
Doesn't that strike you as odd?
                                                            
                       OTHER
I'll strike you odd you elite
literate!
                                                            
A bench is thrown onstage, the crowd is arguing loudly and
fighting amongst themselves.
James and Caleb grab as many scrolls as they can and start
running out the back of the tent.
General mayhem ensues. Close up of James and Caleb fleeing.
                                                            
                       JAMES
      (to Caleb)
Who would think some poorly
written literature could cause
such a ruckus?
                                                            
Overall shot of empty stage with the foreground filled with
waving arms and furniture being thrown about.
                                                            
                       AN
Be sure to return next week when
Scroll Talk covers Leviticus!
                                                            


FADE OUT.


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From David Chase Date 10/20/2008 **
I like the premise of this story, and the fact that it is trying to debate logically a subject that a lot of people don't want to debate logically. Whether the arguments are valid or not, I'll leave up to the individual. My problem is that I just didn't find it funny enough. I think there's potential for some real laughs, but the dialogue is pretty tame when it should be razor sharp and pulling no punches. I wanted to laugh out loud and say "did he really say that?", but it just didn't elicit that kind of response. I guess I wanted Scroll Talk starring Chris Rock. Keep working it, though, you've got a good idea here.


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