We returned in triumph from the 2012 “Too Big to F’Ale”  California Morris Ale in Ventura County holding aloft our prize for winning the “Most Creative Use of Props” award for our skit.  The story is this…

Rising Phoenix Morris, hosts of the ale, had asked everyone to provide dinner entertainment by coming up with a toast, skit, song, etc.  Then, rather than leaving to fate what could possibly be managed, they took things into their own hands by giving each team a briefcase and instructing us to come up with skits using the props found therein.  This was done Saturday morning before boarding the buses for the day’s tours.  The molly foreman didn’t bother to look in the briefcase until well into the afternoon just before our pub stop.  At the pub the team (after many suggestions and much confusion – it was noisy) came up with an idea which the foreman turned into a 1-paged script.  Yes – a script.  For a morris ale skit.  Not unheard of but extremely rare.  She then made six handwritten copies of the script…on the bus…while it was traveling on curvy mountain roads…after drinking lots of beer.  Let’s just say we were all relieved the trip did not turn into strange encounters of the vomitous kind.

There was one quick rehearsal with all the dancers before dinner.  At dinner, when the two musicians joined us, the foreman realized a great blunder had been made by not asking the musicians if they too wanted to be in the skit.  So she asked.  They said yes, (Yikes!) so she wrote a scene entirely unconnected to the rest of the script and made a handwritten copy not 5 minutes before the skits were to start.  (Oh wonderful, brilliant foreman who works best under pressure!)  The skit went surprisingly well, helped by one team’s raucous laughter entirely out of proportion to the feeble comedy of the skit.  Said team shall remain nameless but it’s initials are Wildwood.

Now, Mad Molly, Wildwood, Black Sheep and Rising Phoenix Morris shared a bus.  When Wildwood took its turn to present a skit, they sang a song describing how they, in moments when the briefcases were left unattended on the bus, had added miscellaneous items to each of them.  It turned out that the other three teams used only some of their props while Mad Molly used all of them including the briefcase.  Hence their laughter as each of the added items were presented in our skit.  We were congratulated afterwards by Wildwood for our fine accomplishment in creativity…and no doubt, implicitly, our suckerhood as well.  We brought home a silver-painted, solid wood object d’art which from various angles can be described as a kneeling woman, pelican or stiletto-heeled shoe.  I thought it amazing when I first saw it but I was giddy from excitement at winning an ale prize.  Perhaps we’ll have our team name engraved on it and pass it on at the next ale.  Great fun!

Here’s the list of props (as many as I can remember) and the skit in its entirety (not as it was, but as it should have been):

Original contents of briefcase (assumed):  package of toy cop paraphrenalia (badge, keys, handcuffs, pistol, watch), packet of fake money, home marijuana drug testing kit, toy criminal profiling kit, (do you sense a theme here?), folder with paper and pen, cell phone, a stack of time cards

What we think Wildwood added:  large rock, 2 fake sugar packets, feather, necklace, packet of Ritz crackers


Heroine:  (Enters displaying packet of money)  I work at Bear Sterns.  Look at all the money I got for selling my soul!

Robber:  (Enters with gun)  Stick ’em up, sucker, and give me all your dough.

Hero:  (Enters with rock; fake sugar, handcuffs & necklace in pockets)  Stop right there, you miscreant!  (To Heroine)  I’ll save you, ma’am!  (Hits robber on head with rock.)

(Robber falls on ground.)

Reporter:  (Enters with folder, paper, pen in hands; watch & criminal profiling kit in pocket)  I’m an investigative reporter with the New York Times.  I’m on a deadline.  (Pulls out watch.)  What’s the dope?  (Prepares to write.)

Hero:  (Holds up 2 fake sugar packets)  Here’s the dope.

Reporter:  (Looking at sugar skeptically)  What are you – stoned?

Hero:  (Points to rock and robber)  No, he’s stoned!

Doctor:  (Enters wearing badge and keys; followed by Jack Finney carrying briefcase with rest of props inside)  Hi.  I’m a police forensic doctor specializing in dope victims.  Speaking of dopes, bring me my bag, Jack Finney!

Finney:  My name ain’t Jack Finney!  I’m Mr. John Finney, a man of great strength!

Doctor:  Stand aside!  Let me check this man with my Acme Super-Duper Drug Testing Kit.

(Comic business follows with Finney handing Doctor items from bag, naming each in turn, as doctor becomes progressively more annoyed and frustrated and yelling “No, I want my Acme Super-Duper Drug Testing Kit!” each time in response.  Others look on in interest and/or disdain – if you want to get that detailed.  Doctor gets drug testing kit last.)

Doctor:  (Fumbling with kit a bit)  I don’t know how to use this thing!  (Throws it aside and lays her head on robber’s chest.)  Oh my God, I think he’s dead!  I’m outta here.  (She grabs Finney and they run off.)

Reporter:  (Following them out holding up profiling kit)  Wait!  Let’s profile him!  Let’s see if he shows up in the NSA database!

Hero:  (To Heroine)  Well, it looks like there’s no one left to take into custody but you.  (Dangles handcuffs suggestively.)

Heroine:  What do you have in mind, big boy?

(Hero puts necklace on Heroine and they walk off arm in arm.  Enter Holmes and Watson.)

Watson:  I say, Holmes, look here.  It seems to be a dead body.

Holmes:  Again you totally misconstrue the situation, my dear Watson.  Observe and learn.  The body is caked in sweat, dressed in jeans, and a T-shirt with a bold design.  Note the obscure pattern of face paint clearly indicative of membership in a cult.  And can you not smell the odor of stinky feet and the pervasive and penetrating aroma of beer?  This is not a dead body, but it certainly is a dead drunk.

Watson:  Gasp!  No, Holmes, you cannot mean it!  Why, he must be a – a –

Holmes:  Yes, Watson.  This body is a morris dancer!

Watson:  Holmes, you continue to amaze me.  Brilliant!  Case closed.

(They exit.)