NEWS flash: In these tough times, layoffs aren’t limited to people -- dire economic straits have translated to pink slips for animals, too. The Bronx Zoo is letting go hundreds of its creatures, according to The Guardian; other nonperforming varmints are sure to follow suit worldwide. Like humans, many will wind up in outplacement counseling.
SCENE: A large office meeting room. A dozen animals are milling about, sipping coffee and looking ill at ease. Two silverback gorillas, Timmy and Dan, are staring out the window balefully.
TIMMY: I hear the zoo isn’t even going to try to re-train that old porcupine.
DAN: Yeah, it’s curtains for Millicent. Admit it, though -- no great loss.
TIMMY: You’re only saying that cuz she was shop steward.
DAN: No, I’m saying it cuz she once shot me full of quills just for shouting “You look a little prickly today!” Which was -- hello! -- a joke.
TIMMY: She wuz the terror of the Fourth of July barbecue. Remember when Arnold the pig asked her to dance? Fatal mistake.
DAN: Yeah. They say when Millicent’s quills pierced Arnold’s hide, barbecue sauce came out.
TIMMY: Who says?
TIMMY: (Scoffing) Hyenas! Those freakin’ jokers figger they should get jobs warming up for Jimmy Fallon.
A magnificent Horse sidles up to the two gorillas. They look her over appreciatively.
HORSE: Good morning, gentlemen. How did you enjoy that last presentation?
TIMMY: Morning, lady. It was awright, but sexual harassment isn’t an issue in our line of work. Us silverbacks have to beat the dames off us. I’m Timmy, by the way.
HORSE: (Tossing her mane slightly) Moonlit Path.
TIMMY: Nice accent.
MOONLIT PATH: Thank-you. I’m English. And I can tell from your accent, you’re from the Bronx. The zoo, I presume?
DAN: Yep! What about you – escapee from the glue factory?
MOONLIT PATH: Hardly, though it’s a bit of an embarrassing story. I was running my first race last week, representing the Queen of England. Afterward it was discovered that I’d been shot up with a drug called tranexamic acid. So Her Majesty quickly shipped me out of the country, and here I am.
DAN: (Admiringly) Well, la di da! (Pointing to a Dog in the corner) Have you met that labrador over there? He’s from England, too.
MOONLIT PATH: (Shaking her head) Is he one of the ones who played Marley in that film?
TIMMY: Naw, he’s a full-blown idiot. Got fired by his family for eating a whole alphabet of fridge magnets. Mind you, it turned out that ass could really spell.
(Dan shrieks with laughter. Moonlit Path grimaces.)
MOONLIT PATH: By the way, I already have some irons in the fire. I’m planning to become a broker -- an agent of sorts -- for animals just like you. Would you mind if I got a bit of practice on you two, rehearsing my pitch?
TIMMY: Fire away, babe!
MOONLIT PATH: Cheers. Gentlemen, how would you describe what you did at the zoo?
DAN AND TIMMY: (Simultaneously) We wuz in show business!
MOONLIT PATH: And is that the field in which you wish to continue?
DAN: Sure. What else is there for a gorilla? Don’t even think about returning us to the wilds of Africa -- at this point, food-gathering and fighting off poachers isn’t fer us.
MOONLIT PATH: I’ve
got one idea that would have you starting work soon. How do you feel about grass?
TIMMY: (Laughing) You ever seen a gorilla habitat, lady? Everybody’s high, like, all the time!
MOONLIT PATH: Not that kind of grass! How do you feel about grazing on grass?
It’s quite delicious, when pesticide free.
TIMMY: Can’t stand the stuff -- unless it’s generously heaped with bananas.
DAN: Although you could afford to lay off the bananas and lose a few pounds. (Laughing derisively)
TIMMY: (Hotly) Look who’s talking! (Shoves Dan, who starts shrieking and whacking Timmy)
MOONLIT PATH: (Flicking her tail) Do calm down. I’m simply telling you, that’s where the jobs are. Wallaby unemployment rates have plunged since they got hired to munch their way through English lawns. And have you heard of Google?
DAN: (Insolently) Duh. What about it?
MOONLIT PATH: Well, the Googleplex in California is now having its grounds tended the ‘low-carbon’ way. The company has hired 200 goats for the task, but you know what nutters they are. They’ll start out eating grass but soon enough they’ll be chewing the hood ornaments in the parking lot. I see future opportunities for entire herds of hardworking fellows such as yourselves…
TIMMY: You don’t know much about gorillas, do ya, lady?
DAN: Yeah. Oral lawnmowing isn’t our thing. Neither is working, really.
MOONLIT PATH: (Impatiently) Well, pray tell, what is your ‘thing?’
TIMMY: I see myself as a sort of Justin Timberlake/Ashton Kutcher figger. You know, hanging with the babes, jetting here and there, getting my pic in the tabloids….
MOONLIT PATH: But I’m sure you’re aware, that’s not all there is to a career in music or films.
DAN: (Scoffing) Films! Like Ashton Kutcher makes a lot of ‘films.’
MOONLIT PATH: Well, perhaps not. But I understand he does produce that TV show, Punk’d, where he pulls elaborate practical jokes on other celebrities.
TIMMY: (Gasping in realization) Hey, now that you mention it, that’s the job for me! I’m a prankster! Ask anybody!
DAN: (Seizing on the idea) Yeah -- we could come up with a show like that -- Animal Punk’d -- pulling pranks on other animals! Like, invite some hoity-toity zoo lion to guest-star in a Siegfried & Roy show in Vegas, but secretly lace his pre-show food with ex-lax. (Guffawing) Man, would that be a blast! Pun intended!
(Timmy shrieks with delight, beats his chest)
MOONLIT PATH: (Blanching) Er, that’s rather vulgar, isn’t it? Who would watch a show like that?
DAN: Other unemployed animals, lady! What the heck else do they have to do all day? It’ll be a mega-freakin’-hit!
Dan and Timmy are inflamed with enthusiasm for their concept and start screeching at each other. Moonlit Path sighs and ambles over to Jack the yellow lab, who is happily munching on a stack of empty Styrofoam cups. As Moonlit Path approaches, he burps contentedly.
MOONLIT PATH: Excuse
me, sir, I’m Moonlit Path. I understand you’ve suffered a fridge magnet-related
accident. I wanted to ask, have you ever considered switching to grass?