Bubble Trubble at the Mars Bar", a.k.a.
First performed in Cranbrook, BC 07/10
Oratory/setpiece comedy/detective story parody/kids' comedy
Rating: G [family-friendly; contains optional PG content]
Performed: July 8, 2010
It's been said that great artists borrow, but genius steals.
And as my agent so often likes to point out, I'm not a great artist! So the idea for this setpiece is stolen from an idea by Canadian comic Todd Butler (The Butler Bros.) who does a brilliantly funny bit entitled "Jimmy Durango" or "Savannah Isuzu" in which he tries to put as many car and truck names as possible into a story which he narrates over a Johnny Rivers Secret Agent Man riff on his guitar. I loved the idea, and the detective potboiler parody is such a great staple comedic device, and such an easy concept to parody. For my take on the theme, I decided to see what I could do with candy names and terms. And I've used over 160 in this story, which I call Dubble Bubble Trubble at the Mars Bar. See the download notice below before browsing the script though...you might just want to play what I call "the home game". It's the one piece I've got that I can perform for kids, too...except that they don't laugh. They're too busy trying to keep count of all the candy names!
**JUST IN 08/11**: I wrote Todd several months back to thank him for the inspiration; he finally found some time to actually watch the piece...his verdict: "Thank you so much for this! It is brilliant!" Too cool...Canadian performers can be a bit overly effusive in their praise of other artists, but this was just so nice to hear...and I'll choose to believe he meant every word of it, thankyaverymuch.
Spoiler alert: The entire working script of this performance is presented here as it was delivered, but if you wish to play the "home game" and see how many you can identify from listening, don't read the script until after you've watched or heard the performance. All 160+ candy names and terms are capitalized and highlighted in bold. Where two terms or brands are listed next to each other, I separate them with a bar ( | ) so you can more easily identify all the references. Lines reserved for adult audiences are marked in blue (of course).
Flash video is not the most attractive format, but the frame size should be compatible with most mobile devices, the audio is acceptable, and the compression is strong enough to allow for hesitation-free streaming playback even on a dial-up connection (provided you are not downloading anything else at the time).
Mp3 audio has been pre-processed for improved sound quality, and is provided at the smallest possible filesize which allows for reasonably warble-free sound. The recording isn't the best, but you should find the audio quality to be quite acceptable.
Flash movie (13:00) 4.9Mb
To play the movie, right-click over the movie image and select the appropriate option.
To download the movie as a disk file, right-click over the download links above and select Save As..., Save Link to Disk As... or whichever menu option appears to allow you to save the clip as a file.
24kbps 11kHz full-length (14:09) mp3 (mono) 2.4Mb
To download the mp3 audio clip, right-click over the speaker icon and select Save As..., Save Link to Disk As...download links above and select Save As..., Save Link As... or other option which appears to allow you to save the file to disk.
One of my first opportunities to perform came earlier in 2010 when I received a last-minute invitation to perform at an outdoor youth music festival in Kimberley, BC. At the time I had about an hour's worth of material at or near performance level, but it had all been prepared for use in a full-length adult show. I sent the booking committee every script I had, promising to clean up whatever they saw which might be inappropriate to their audience. If I was able to prove myself with an early-afternoon piece, I might even be pressed into service as a second emcee, a spot which would have all but guaranteed me a newspaper clipping, which would have been pure gold at that stage of my career. My repertoire at the time included only one piece which would be considered inappropriate for prime-time broadcast on the CBC network. But not a single piece was considered appropriate for the audience to this festival.
I swore at that point that I would never again be caught without material for a given venue. In short order I began to assemble five new setpieces specifically selected for their appropriateness with young, old, and "conservative" audiences. This was my first piece specifically selected for its performability for youth and family audiences. And it was an instant hit, in spite of having only been completed less than 48 hours before its debut.
Addendum 08/11: It was a full year later, with no opportunities to perform the piece in the interim, before I heard from the inspirition for this piece his own self: Todd Butler of BC's Butler Brothers band, whom I'd written to thank for his inspiration for this work. I was intensely relieved to notice that the subject header in his e-mail gave no indication of a pending copyright-infringement lawsuit. But he had watched the Flash video. His verdict?
"Thank you so much for [the e-mail]!" he wrote. "It is brilliant! I am glad I could inspire you to pun-out, as it were!"
Truth to tell, it was something of a time-worn comedic device when Todd wrote Jimmy Durango...in fact, I seem to remember seeing similar treatments of pop-culture themes as a kid from the editor of MAD Magazine, one Bill Gaines. I think the reason why Todd gets the terrific response he gets from Jimmy Durango is that it's such an ancient comedic device that nobody uses it any more for anything but lazy parody, so it sounds fresh and original when someone does try to turn it into a properly-crafted performance.
"As you say," Todd remarked about that, "it [the comedic device] still seems to work!".
I'm Joe. Bazooka Joe. I'm a private detective...a gumshoe...a *bubble* gumshoe. I work the Quality Streets. No chocolate coins for this shamus...I only take the premium clients willing to shell out a pot of gold in return for my investigative black magic.
It was a normal Hallowe'en, just like any other...the moon was Reisen. The rain was slamming Tic Tac, Tic Tac on my tin roof that Sundae like a million little fruit drops. It had been a rough Saturday night and I swore that was the last time I'd ever get drunk on Keillor's Butter Scotch.
I was just getting ready to close the package on this blistering day when I heard the 'Chupa Chups' of fruit leather| shoelaces outside my door. I dove behind my last box of Toxic Waste. I aimed my Pez dispenser at the door as it opened...and there stood Pop Rocks...I hadn't seen him since the Jolly Rancher caper. We'd saved his Runts from ending up as the Big Turk's newest Turkish delights...Yeah, I knew the Big Turk...that Juicy Fruit. I put the safety on my Pez while he sat down. Pop had fallen on hard candy times...more than once I'd seen him passed out on the street next to an empty box of brandy beans...but if Pop had a story to tell, I knew it would be nothing to Snickers at...Pop had never been known for spinning Whoppers.
<old western actor> "It's a long story, but first, I'm parched...whattaya got for me, Joe?
I looked at the half-empty pot in the corner..."How do you like your coffee?" I asked...I already knew his answer.
"Crisp," he said
"You like your Coffee Crisp?"
"Look, I haven't got time for stupid chocolate bar jokes. This is big, Mister." [Mr. Big]
"Big," I nodded. As he crunched on his coffee he told me the story of how he came to be in possession...of the Caramilk secret.
Turns out Pop Rocks had been one Lucky Elephant. He'd been playing a penny-ante game of Rice Krispies Squares for after-dinner mints with some members of the Almondillos gang outside the Caramilk factory gate when Mason Dots walked by. I knew Mason Dots...my childhood buddy Roman [Roman Nougat] used to give him nougats all the time. Dots had grown hard, tasteless, and tough as nails over the years. And now he was working for Werthers.
I warned him, "Pop, It's gonna be tough to Wrigley out of this one. Does Werthers know?"
Turns out that he did. Mason Dots had Dared a couple of Jelly Tots to show their Swedish berries to Trebor. You know Trebor...the night guard at Russell Stover's office behind the factory? And while Trebor was Fleering at their Snowcaps, Baby Ruth and her Garbage Pail Kids rolled in behind and made off with the Caramilk secret. But there were two peppermint twists they hadn't counted on: the first was Pop Rocks, who was licoriced up by then and asleep on the sidewalk outside the gate, and the second was that you almost never see Baby Ruth without Butterfingers. Sure enough, in the rush to get away, the crunchy chocolate shell containing the Caramilk secret broke open and the paper fell out...right onto Pop's Raisinets.
When Pop woke up and figured out what had happened, he knew what he was sitting on, and he wanted no part of that can of gummi worms. Soda get himself out of this molasses, he needed a Cracker Jack detective to help him get the secret back to its rightful owner. I knew he couldn't afford my normal fee up front - $200 a day plus dental expenses - but he promised to pay me in cola bottles and chocolate coins if I agreed to take the case. I didn't care...I could see a big Skor at the end of this caper...he could have paid me in spearmint leaves for all I cared.
This was going to put me in some sticky situations...everyone knew Russell Stover was the rightful owner of the Caramilk secret, but it was also well-known that Mr. Big had sent a goon named Rolo to the Tavener where Stover spent his evenings. He'd been trying to Push Pop Stover into handing the secret over to his frontman Werthers. And I knew just where his Nibs spent HIS evenings...it was the gummiest sugar shack in town: the $100,000 Bar. Lately it was being run by those notorious Nerds..|.Mike and Ike...but everyone knew it was just a hard candy shell corporation...the real man at the top was Werthers.
I headed straight for the $100,000 Bar and rang the doorbell.
A little window opened on the other side of the door and I stared straight into the eye of the...door man?
Door woman. Clev-ver!
<ditzy long island>"What's the password, sugar?" She asked sweetly.
I hoped that Pop Rocks had given me the right one.
"Iso-invertase guana-lactone...guana...Isotase guana-inver-...
I couldn't say it!
"Who can pronounce this?" I protested.
"Oh that's okay, sugar," she said..."I can't say that woid either."
The door opened slowly...and like a bag of gourmet jelly beans I wasn't sure what I was gonna get, but I had a feeling I was in for more than my fair share of cinnamon and wintergreen.
There she was in all her Charms...oh, she was one Hot Tamale! | Hubba Bubba! | Strawberry braids flowing around her head like so much cotton candy, glistening wax lips...and those pert Mounds...
"So..." I said... "What do they call you at the sweet shop?"
She looked at me...I could tell by the look in her eyes that she'd been glazing.
"Can you call me Candy [cane]?" she asked.
"Of course I Cane," I replied.
She giggled like an Airhead
"Oh, you're such a SweeTart!"
"I'm lookin' for somebody," I said. "Peppermint Pattie. Have you seen her?"
"Sure," said Candy. "Pattie's always here, she sings in the Mars Bar every night After Eight."
She called over the bouncer.
"Cadbury," she cooed, "take our friend to see Patty."
I followed Cadbury past the sherbet fountain and under the neon sign that flashed "Mars Bar". And there on the stage, standing in front of the Blue Sharks band, was a sight of pure Bliss...I could feel Cupid's Trident firing Aero's of Love, Hearts and flowers filled my head as I heard that that rich, creamy voice...her gorgeous dark chocolate skin clad in smooth Silk..."no, Joe," I said to myself. "The last thing you need is one more Kinder Surprise...stay professional!" It wouldn't have mattered anyway...Pattie was one classy dame and not the type to fall for a nutty, hard-chewing Slowpoke like me...
She walked over to me at the bar as the song ended...I struggled to think of an Ice Breaker.
"Hey Pattie," I said, "Didn't I see you sing once with the Peach Penguins at Callard and Bowser's?"
<Jessica Rabbit>"My eyes are up here," she said. She'd caught me getting lost in her Milk Duds.
"I know who you are, Joe," she said. "What are you doing in this part of town?"
"Trying to return an open package for refund," I said. If word about the Caramilk secret had gotten around, she'd know exactly what I was talking about.
"You don't say?" she said. She looked wistfully across the bar and took out a package of candy cigarettes...Popeye brand...this chick was class all the way. Her brown eyes gleamed like fresh Glossetts...
"It's a bit over your head, isn't it, Joe?" she said.
The one chance I got to perform this piece for children came at a pancake breakfast during Wasa Fun Days. Here's where I found out how tough a young audience can be. I barely drew a chuckle from the kids who heard this performance...and I only found out after it was finished why that was: they were too busy trying to keep a count of all the candy names! One nine-year-old girl actually got over 120 of them.
"I live for danger, dollface," I said. "You know me, I've always been a bit Mentos."
"No," she said, "that hundred-pound kettle weight...it's a bit over your head...oh, wait, not it's not."
I heard the snapping of cable as the weight fell on my head...I saw Starbursts and Rockets as a sticky red Gusher flowed over my face...I thought to myself as I slipped into unconsciousness, oh why do people have to have juicy liquid centers? Zagnuts!
When I awoke, my head felt like a family of gummi bears had been playing Skittles in it...my mouth felt like candy floss and tasted like Lindt, and I could feel the licorice ropes tied tightly around my wrists. Wherever I was, it was one classy joint...paintings by Botticelli,| Ferrero [Rocher] and Rocher, Campino furniture...Brach's china...it was clearly a sitting room but there were still [pillow] mints on the pillows. Willy Wonka's estate in York wasn't this posh. And there, sitting half-conscious like a good Chocolate Soldier in the corner, was Russell Stover himself. He was delirious with terror...just talking nonsense:
<James Mason>"Graperoo! Graperoo! Oh Fruitella, I know that Moir's the merrier, but Rowntree's been gone for a long time now. I'd give you Almond Joy if you'd agree to bear my Kinder [Bueno]...You will? Oh Bueno..."
I didn't know how old man Stover came to be here, but it was clear that Peppermint Pattie had thrown me over.
Then I heard that voice...it was Werthers!
<Rocky Rococo>"Ah, this is truly Bubblicious! So glad you could join me for dessert, Bazooka Joe."
He ran one of his wax fingers across my cherry-stained cheek "I see you've met my boy Rolo. Trust me, Joe, if you value your Goodies you'll stop trying to be such a Smarties and tell me where to find the Caramilk secret."
"I can't give you what I don't have!" I said loudly. I was hoping that Candy Cane might hear me...she'd know who to call for a rescue.
"Ah, Wunderbar," said Werthers, "you've got some fight in you. Yodel all you want, Joe...no one will hear you."
I took him at his word and concentrated on loosening the vines around my wrists before Rolo came back.
"I knew I'd run into you eventually, Werthers," I said, "And I promise you, when this is all over, you're going down like hard candy."
"There's many a slip 'Twix | Wine Gums and Wax Lips," he replied. "I just want what is rightfully mine."
"Tell me another Whopper, Werthers."
"Oh Joe, you're such a Malteser," he said, "but I tire of this...Oh, Henry!?"
Then from behind the curtain, I got the shock of my life...there stood Henry Reese...the famous impresario of all those bubblegum bands...he'd started in the '60s managing the Turtles...now he was selling his sticky-sweet soda pop music to a new generation of Dentynes. Last I heard he was managing the Pixie Sticks, the Sour Patch Kids, Jelly Belly - he was Reese's newest candy rapper <sigh> - and of course his star all-girl act, named in his own honor, of course - Reese's Pieces. It takes [licorice] all sorts, I thought to myself...and here I was, just a penny-candy, | hard-crack-boiled bubble gumshoe trying to keep the world safe from Icy Squares like the Werthers and the Reeses. And I couldn't escape the feeling that we were still one person short of a pretty interesting bridge mix. Sure enough, as if on cue...Reese called for his assistant.
<Hahvahd>"Junior, get in here."
And in walked the last person I expected to see in this joint...it was Pattie's broad-shouldered brother, fresh out of Hershey's Pen: the one and only Junior Mints.
<brooklyn>"Ooh, nasty bump you've got there, Joe," said Junior. "looks like you tried to pull taffy at the wrong temperature."
"Don't give me that Marshmallow Fluff, Junior! So..." I said, "So now it's all clear...The Three Musketeers are back together...Werthers, Henry Reese and Junior Mints...I thought that asteroid had buried all of the dino-sours...I guess I was wrong."
<Rocky Rococo>"That's right, Joe," said Werthers. "And we're the sour cherries who are going to own the Caramilk secret once and for all. Boys, get out your Cherry Blasters."
I heard the sound of Pez dispensers being cocked behind my back, as I loosened the last of the licorice ropes. Then in two quick movements I snapped three Red Vines and quicker than you can say McIntosh's McCreamy McToffee, I had Reese's and Werthers' wrists tied up in the same licorice ropes that had nearly spelled my doom.
"Kerr's you, Bazooka Joe!" said Werthers as the third rope coiled itself around his ankles. That just left Junior Mints, and it looked like it was gonna be a straight quick-draw fight...I grabbed my trusty Pez dispenser off the table where Werthers had carelessly left it, and before Mints could take aim, I fired the last three of my lozenges...right down his throat. The third one was an Everlasting Gobstopper...all I heard him say as he died, was "Rosebuds".
Just then old man Stover came to and I filled him in on what had happened while he'd been out. The Caramilk secret and its rightful owner were reunited and safe once again.
<James Mason>"It'll be a Sour Soother for Werthers," said Stover, "once he's felt the Icy Cups of justice clamp shut around his M&M's. Now untie me and give me back my property."
"Not so fast, old man," I said. "I'd better Ring Pops first and let him know this caper's been closed."
Stover was known for being as cheap and unpleasant as Nekko Wafers, and I knew Pop Rocks deserved a Good'n'Plenty | Bounty for assisting in the safe return of the Caramilk secret, not to mention its owner. So I took my time, and eventually Stover got the message...Pop was gonna get his free surprise prize all right, and I was gonna EatMore than jelly beans and stale jubes that night too...Stover wasn't happy about forking over the goodies, but fair was fair.
"You're one Sour Sucker," said Stover, "but I gotta admit, you've been a real Life Savers, Joe".
"It's all in a day's allowance, Stover," I said, "all in a day's allowance."