Monday, February 10, 2020

JOKES ARE NO LAUGHING MATTER short scene for 5 actors (male or female)

By D. M. Larson

Cast of Characters
(5 actors - male or female)
PAULY: loves to tell jokes
MOLLY: waiting for a loved one who is sick
REGINA: a sick patient in the waiting room
JOE: grumpy guy in a wheelchair or on crutches
DOCTOR: gives MOLLY some bad news

(Patients waiting in an emergency room at a hospital.
MOLLY frowns, rubs her hands together and looks down nervously,
avoiding eye contact. PAULY looks around, curious and smiling at everyone.
PAULY notices MOLLY who won’t make eye contact. PAULY moves closer
to MOLLY and MOLLY looks the other way. PAULY sits quietly and stares at MOLLY)

PAULY: Want to hear a joke?

MOLLY: Not really.

PAULY: Why did the Orca go to the hospital?

(MOLLY ignores PAULY)

PAULY (cont.): Because he wasn’t feeling whale!

(PAULY laughs at his own joke)

PAULY (cont.): And guess what the card said that his friends got him.

(MOLLY gets up and walks away. PAULY turns to REGINA)

PAULY (cont.): Get whale soon.

(PAULY laughs, and REGINA forces a smile. PAULY then follows MOLLY)

PAULY (cont.): I just wanted to help pass the time.
I noticed you’ve been here almost as long as I have.
Waiting around in the ER is never easy.
I thought some jokes might help. Sorry about that.

MOLLY: Okay, yeah. Whatever.

(MOLLY goes back to a chair and sits. PAULY tries to stay where
he is but finally goes back over to REGINA who is looking really ill)

PAULY: Why did the banana go to the hospital? 

(REGINA does a weak smile)


PAULY: He had too many bruises.

(PAULY laughs but REGINA looks really sick and runs off stage [optional vomit sound].
PAULY turns to MOLLY)

PAULY: I guess she didn’t like that joke.

(JOE has a broken leg and enters on crutches or in a wheelchair.
He pulls up to some empty chairs. PAULY rushes over)

PAULY: Welcome to the ER. 

JOE: Thanks… uh, you work here?

PAULY: I wish. I love hospitals. No, I’m just waiting here like the rest of you.
I just like to tell everyone some jokes to help pass the time.

JOE: Oh.

(JOE gets a call on his phone)

JOE (cont.): I better take this. Hello…

(During the following, a DOCTOR enters and talks to MOLLY in the background.
As the DOCTOR speaks to her, she gets more and more upset)


(PAULY tries to get JOE’s attention)

JOE: Hang on… What?

PAULY: What does a mermaid use to call her friends? 

(JOE gives PAULY a cold stare)

PAULY: A shell phone.

(PAULY laughs. JOE talks into his phone)

JOE: I’m done. Can you pick me up now? Please hurry.

PAULY: Why did the mermaid want to cross the road? 

(JOE looks mad)

PAULY (cont.): To get to the seaside.

(PAULY laughs and JOE struggles to get away)

PAULY (cont.): Why can’t the mermaid cross the road?

(JOE is having trouble escaping)

PAULY (cont.): She doesn’t have any legs.

(JOE finally escapes. MOLLY is crying and moves downstage toward audience.
DOCTOR follows)

DOCTOR: I’m sorry. I’m really very sorry.

(MOLLY nods but can’t speak. DOCTOR exits. PAULY sees MOLLY crying.
He tries to resist going over but finally gives in. He gets a box of tissue and takes it to her)

PAULY: A tissue for your troubles.

(MOLLY takes a tissue)

MOLLY: Thanks.

(MOLLY blows her nose and gives the used tissue to PAULY who is a little
grossed out and takes it to the trash. He uses some rubbing alcohol on his hands.
He goes back and she takes more tissues)

PAULY: Something making you cry?

MOLLY: Yeah, all your jokes.

PAULY: Oh… sorry about that. I have a problem. Joke disease. I can’t stop.
I wish I could be a stand up comic or something. Then maybe I could use
my powers for good instead of evil.

MOLLY: Your jokes are evil. Pure evil.

PAULY: I know… so that’s why you’re crying?


PAULY: Come sit down. I’ll get you something to drink. Water? Coffee?

MOLLY: No, it’s okay.

PAULY: How about a hug?

MOLLY: No! And no jokes either.

PAULY: Want to talk about it?

MOLLY: Not really. 

PAULY: Well, I’m right here if you need anything.

(MOLLY takes more tissue and blows her nose and gives the used ones back to PAULY,
who gets a little grossed out again, takes the used tissues to the trash.
He uses more rubbing alcohol. He looks at his hands and they start to shake.
He clasps his hands together and forces a smile. He can’t move though.
MOLLY notices him. She goes over to him)

MOLLY: Sorry about the tissues. Thanks though. That was nice.

(PAULY turns and struggles with the smile)

PAULY: You’re welcome. I’m happy I could help.

MOLLY: Are you waiting too?

PAULY: I’ve been waiting and waiting. I’m not sure how long anymore. 

MOLLY: Longer than me. And I’ve been here awhile too.

(PAULY walks slowly across the room toward the ER)

PAULY: Do they ever get better?

MOLLY: It doesn’t seem like it.

PAULY: You ever love someone so much that you can’t imagine your future without them?

(MOLLY cries)


(PAULY gives her the tissues)

PAULY: I’m so sorry. I want to make things better, not worse.

(MOLLY blows her nose)

MOLLY: It’s okay. I’ll be okay. 

(MOLLY gives the used tissues to PAULY who rushes to the trash and uses the rubbing alcohol)

PAULY: You know what… there’s this quote I like… it helps me in times like this.

MOLLY: It better not be a joke.

PAULY: No, no. Definitely not. It goes like this… “You can’t calm the story, so stop trying.
What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.”

MOLLY: I wish I could do that.

PAULY: I realized after so many visits here, that I can’t control it or fix it or do much to stop it.
The only thing I could do is change myself and be the one who helps others.
There are people who need us. And we need to show them how much we need them. 

MOLLY: I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can come here over and over again.
I’m a terrible person to think that way. But I’m not sure I’m up for this. How do you survive?

PAULY: Somehow I find the strength to fight…
because I’m here for someone worth fighting for…
someone who means more to me than myself…
And when I can’t fly, I run. And when I can’t run, I walk.
And then I can’t walk, I crawl. But whatever I do,
I keep moving forward, because someone needs me. And I need them.

MOLLY: That sounds like another quote.

PAULY: It was… I may have messed it up a bit, but you get the idea.

MOLLY: Very dramatic and inspiring. 

PAULY: Thanks.

MOLLY: And you’re right. I’m here to help. Because he helps me. 

PAULY: Does he know how much he helps?

MOLLY: I need to tell him. 

PAULY: As soon as you can, you talk to him and tell him how much he means to you.

MOLLY: Thank you for your help.

PAULY: My pleasure. 

MOLLY: I’m going to see if the doctor will let me see him.
I want to be there when he wakes up. He’s going to wake up
and I want to be what he sees when he does.

(MOLLY starts to go and stops. She goes to PAULY and takes the tissue box)

MOLLY (cont.): And when I return and I see you again, you can tell me all the jokes you want.

PAULY: Really?

(His hands are shaking. MOLLY takes his hands and holds them a moment)

MOLLY: Yes, and anything else you want to talk about.

(MOLLY smiles and then exits. PAULY sits, looks around. He is alone.
He takes a deep breath and looks at his hands, which aren’t shaking as much now)

PAULY: “Any fool can be happy. But it takes someone with real heart
to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.”


NOTE: Quotes in the script come from Timber Hawkeye, Martin Luther King Jr, Clive Barker.

Buy a low cost PDF of this script at

When you purchase a PDF, you may make as many photocopies as needed 
(but please do NOT repost the text online in any way).

Purchasing a PDF of this script gives you the rights to use for:

Royalties only need to be paid when you profit from the performance of a Freedrama script or you repost the text of a script online:

Copyright and Royalty

These scripts are published and protected by Copyright (c) 2001-2021.

When you purchase a PDF, you may make as many photocopies as needed (but please do NOT repost online in any way).

Purchasing a PDF of this script gives you the rights to use for:





If you use the script in a paid performance where admission is charged or in a competition, please pay the royalty:

This royalty covers all performances that occur within one month’s time.

IMPORTANT: Please be sure to get permission from your competition for the script before performing it.