The Variety Show

Last month, Teeni and I created the Live Poet’s Society, and set each other a writing assignment.

The “flexible” deadline for this is Friday (Dec 14), but since I am going away tomorrow, I am posting mine now!
Teeni’s assignment is also up HERE, and you absolutely MUST go and read it!! It’s brilliant. I can’t say much without giving anything away, so GO AND READ IT!

To refresh your memories, here is the assignment that Teeni set me:

The Variety Show The setting is a late-night sound stage in New York City, and I am your host, Teeni Frowney (haha – get the reference to Guy Smiley from Sesame Street fame?). I’ve just come back from commercial and am joking with my sidekick, TGH, and I am about to introduce your act…take it away! Hint: Please cover what your special talent/act is, what ensues, and the audience’s reaction to it all.

And here’s my finished piece:


“So, TGH, I think we’re all dying to know what the letters in your name stand for. Trusty Garden Hose? Tile Gap Heating? Toronto General Hospital?”
“You know, for someone whose last name is `Frowney’, you’re a pretty funny gal!”

Howls of laughter fill the room.

“Well, I think that’s more than enough comedic entertainment for now, don‘t you Teeni? Anyway, this next act should have you reaching for the tissues.”
“Yes, but will we be wiping away tears of pain because we can’t bear to listen any longer?”
“You just can’t help yourself, can you?”
“Sorry, TGH. But you have to remember, I am a famous stand-up comedian.”
“Famous where? At the local Kindergarten Open Day?”

Stifled giggles can be heard, presumably from members of the audience not wishing to draw attention to themselves. The giggles are accompanied by several loud guffaws from a few individuals who simply can’t contain their laughter.

“How rude! I can assure you that parents of Kindergarteners appreciate a good joke when they hear one. Unlike somebody else I know …”
“Oh, I appreciate a good joke. That’s why I’ll be watching re-runs of Spin City when I get home tonight.”
“Good one, TGH. But we all know you‘ve got a huge crush on Michael J. Fox.”

An obviously hastily-created fabric banner emblazoned with the words “I love Mike the Fox” bobs up and down amongst the crowd.

“Time to change the subject, I think. After all, this is supposed to be a family show! You really should introduce the next act.”
“Yes, I should. She’s been waiting in the wings for long enough now. I’m very pleased to introduce — performing for the first time in the Big Apple — Amelia Auckland!”

Sonorous applause echoes through the room, as the much-talked-about girl from “Down Under” sedately walks onto the bare stage. She wears a black dress and carries a single yellow rose. As she approaches the microphone, jazz music begins to play softly. Gradually the melody becomes louder until the enchanting minor strains of Gershwin‘s “Summertime” can be clearly heard from every corner of the auditorium. She opens her mouth, and begins to sing.
Her captivating mezzo-soprano voice fills the air.
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”

The room is hushed into submission from the very first note. All eyes are on the stage. They are watching the girl in black, but they are listening to the voice of an angel.
The song continues; a familiar lilting melody. It seems to be over too quickly, and eventually she breathes out the final line:
“So hush, little baby, don’t you cry.”

She steps back from the microphone, tears glistening in her eyes. There is not a doubt in the mind of any patron that this song has significance for her. No-one knows why, but there is an undeniable magic in the air. They all feel a deep connection to the songstress. A young girl far from her home. A young girl with no fame, no fortune, and definitely no “free ticket”. A young girl with just a voice, and a song.

The audience is silent for some time. There seems to be an unspoken realisation that applause would not be appropriate. Nevertheless, the appreciation in the room is obvious. The joking and laughter is forgotten. The previously light-hearted mood of the evening is lost in a sequestered haze of emotion and feeling.

Amelia Auckland calmly leaves the stage. She is not the type to stand basking in the glory of her performance. She has done what she came to do — sing.

Host Teeni Frowney and her sidekick, TGH, return to the stage. They appear to be rendered speechless. Suddenly, Teeni pulls out an enormous red handkerchief with white polka dots. She dabs at her eyes, and composes herself.
“TGH, when you said the next act would be a tear jerker, I was silently scoffing. But I have to say, you were right!”
“The girl has a voice, that’s for sure.”
“I’m so lost for words that I think we need to get some feedback from our audience. What do you think?”
“That’s a great idea, Teeni.”

The comperes head down the steps off to the side of the stage, as bright spotlights follow their delicate movements. They reach the first row of the audience, and the soft yellow beams come to rest on the face of a young man in seat A2.
“Sir, can I ask what you thought of that performance?”
The young man appears shy. He hesitates as the microphone is held in front of his face. Finally he clears his throat, and says, “During that song, I was taken back to my childhood. One of my earliest memories is lying in my bed, barely 3 years old, and listening to my mother sing that very song as I drifted off to sleep.”

As the microphone continues down the row, similar sentiments are expressed. Some people speak of the first time they heard the song. Others speak of the last time they heard it. Their speech is a testimony; it is clear that the performance has touched the hearts of the audience in a profound way.

Teeni Frowney’s eyes scan the capacity crowd. She is aware that there will be no more performances tonight, despite the pre-specified plan to close the evening with a comedy skit poking fun at one of New York’s most famous billionaires.
Instead, she quietly returns to the stage and recites the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley:

“Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory.
Odors, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.”

Lights fade. Curtains close. The night is over.


NB. I used my “Soap Opera Name”, Amelia Auckland. That’s because the character in the story is me, but only 50%. The other 50% is fictional. I’m definitely not that good a singer!😉

I’d love to hear any feedback on my piece! Good or bad, I’m keen to get your opinions. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this. It would have been nice to write something a bit longer, but I would have needed a lot more time.

Teeni, thanks for setting such a great assignment!!

18 thoughts on “The Variety Show

  1. OMG – This was such a great read! I love that you used your soap opera name. I forgot all about those for a bit and was wondering if you misread the assignment. But nope, you were right on! I was so picturing Fantasia Barrino from American Idol singing that tune – she did such a phenomenal job with it. I love how you captured my goofy personality but turned everything into wondrous amazement at your talent. I hope you end up liking mine – i am going to try like heck to get it posted in a couple of hours.

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  3. Okay – I’ve posted mine. I hope you like it! Enjoy!

    OMG!! My dear readers — I implore you — please go and read Teeni’s story! It’s amazing!! Especially what happens to my character. It’s like my ultimate fantasy come true!😉

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