Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Week One, Day Two - "Made in China"

Made in China
Written by Joe Janes
2 of 365

Phil – mid 30’s
Delores – mid 30’s

(Phil is on stage in what appears to be his underwear shoving clothes and lamps and doo-dads into an already overstuffed garbage bag. Delores quietly walks in carrying a bag of groceries.)

Um, Phil.

Oh, hi, honey! Bet you’re wondering what I’m doing here.

DELORES(resumes entering and starts putting away groceries)
Little bit. More wondering why you are still in your underwear.

Oh, not, still. I got dressed. I even got showered. Then I saw this thing on the money news on some cable thing about China and our trade deficit. Delores, China owns Uncle Sam’s ass. And China is just itching to tap it. Everything, everything we buy is made in China. So, I decided to do something about it. You want change, it starts right here at home. I went through all our stuff and started tossing out anything made in China.

My stuff, too?

You’ll thank me. You’ll be shocked what I found. My Chuck Taylor’s, the most American thing a man can put on his feet – made in China. Blue jeans! My blue jeans, your blue jeans, the “blue” in “red, white and blue” – made in frickin’ China. That American flag we bought after 911 and keep forgetting to take down? Well, guess what? Made in China. Shocked, yet?

Oh, yes.

And the Coleman inflatable mattress you force your mother to sleep on when she visits –

I don’t force her-

China! Every time we shop at target or Wal-Mart or virtually any place outside of this room, we are stuffing gold into a china man’s pockets. And he’s raking it in while his workers slave away for pennies a day. It’s cheaper because no American would put up with that bullshit. From now on, no more “Made in China.” It’s the “high fructose corn syrup” of economics. It’s next to impossible to avoid. And it’s making China fat. The metaphor breaks down around there, but you know what we mean. Our future is in their hands and I don’t like it and I’m doing something about it. And FYI - not my underwear. My underwear was made in China, too. I fashioned this out of Bounty paper towels and duct tape made in the good ol’ US of A.

Did you look for a job at all today?

I checked Craig’s List…

Before or after you surfed for Asian porn?



Please leave your feedback and questions for and about "Made in China" in the comments section. Thank you everyone who dealt in yesterday. It was very encouraging.


I decided to give my moustache Zed some encouragement by showing him what he'll look like all gown up. They don't call it a magic marker for nothing.

My personal goal is to raise a thousand or more for 826. Right now, I'm at $75 (shout out to Debbie!). Click HERE to sponsor Zed and me. Please donate whatever amount you can. Every bit helps to support 826's educational programs and will help keep Zed off the streets.


Paul said...

What is it about the 365 sketches project that's got you fired up, exactly? I just want to hear you define it.

Jay OConnor said...

I know its early, but I'm proud of what you're setting out to do.


idjar said...

Loved Made In China.

Joe Janes said...

Paul - Excellent question! I sense that a simpler version of it may simply be "why?" When Suzan-Lori Parks was having her 365 Days/365 Plays produced, I had the same question. More like, "Why and why should I care?" And I agree that anyone can just poop something out every day. The challenge is to have it be entertaining and stage worthy. So, before I took on this project, I really had to get to the value I would get out of it for myself.

Here are a few things...

- Anyone who has had me as a teacher knows I don't believe in writer's block. There's writing and there's not writing. This project puts my money where my mouth is.

- I love the part of a writing project where I'm thinking all day about the characters I've fallen in love with and making little notes about the scene and tweaking and adding stuff up til the last minute. I get to do this every day.

- Over the last few years. some of my best stuff (ie, Cheddar Moon and WRY) came out of 24 Play Projects at Columbia where I had roughly 7pm in the evening til 8 in the morning to write a ten minute play.

- A benefit I have noticed just three days in is that I am super aware of everything that's going on around me. As well as being introspective about my life. Details and experiences from my life have already made it into these scenes.

- It's a test. As far as what gets me fired up about this, this is probably it. This project brings all my skills and talents to bear while pushing me in new directions.

Jay - Thanks. Glad to hear from you. I miss seeing you around the training center.

Don - Thought you would appreciate it. I came up with it while looking for shoes on Monday. I couldn't find any that didn't say "Made in China" - including Chuck Taylor's. I thought about going home a purging my apartment of "Made in China" but I probably wouldn't have anything to wear. In fact, I'd probably be throwing out a lot of furniture and cookware, too!

Thanks for the feedback!

Old Ned said...


Already I can see a big difference between this project and "365 Days/365 Plays." Namely, the near instantaneous publication -- through your daily blogging, as opposed to publishing them all at the end of the year -- plus the feedback and suggestions from your blog followers as you go along ads a whole new level of performance.

It's sort of a combination of those old department store promotions where they get some people to live in the store window for a month or so and invite the public to simply watch the subjects as they sleep, eat, sit around reading the paper, etc. and an improv show where the company asks for suggestions from the audience which are somehow incorporated into the performance.

Perhaps you might enhance the effect by putting a web cam at your writing station so that your fans can observe you as you write.

("Look, Matilda, his mustache is coming in nicely."

"Ooo, he's picking his nose!"

"He looks stressed. Send him an email and tell him to write something funny!")

Indeed, the performance of the writing task in this blog may prove to be more compelling than the eventual performance of the resulting sketches by comedy troupes at various festivals around the country next year.

Anyway, that being said, I've enjoyed your first two pieces. I notice that both feature characters who are removing stuff as a consequence of bad economic news which makes me wonder: Is Joe intentionally setting up a pattern which he can now reverse for the amazement and the amusement of his audience?

I'll have to stay tuned to find out. (Ah, in addition to the improv suggestion and the department store voyeurism, this writing performance might also incorporate aspects of the old movie serials. Cool!)

I think I'll go make some popcorn.

Anonymous said...

Love this one.

Paul said...

Excellent. Thanks.

And yeah, that's a sketch I'd be proud to play. Duct tape underwear and all.

Joe Janes said...

Thanks, Everyone - Mike, love the "on display in a department store" analogy. However, I think a webcam would be more disturbing than educational.

Joe Janes said...

Oh, and good call about calling out the money theme. It's not intentional, just what's coming out. Today's will be money related, too. As a human sponge walking around looking for ideas, that seems to be the thing coming up the most, right now. Tomorrow looks like it will be very different, though.

Henri D said...

Sugg, take or leave:
For extension and investment from Delores, perhaps some banter from her about things that "couldn't possibly be from China," i.e. the American Flag bought after 9/11.
I kinda know these people.

Jeannie said...

I really like the ending and the irony of it, it is just a great ending.

MikeTheWaiterDotCom said...

Yikes, it's only January. Good luck!

Joe Janes said...

One day at a time, Mike. One day at a time.

Joe Janes said...

Henri - About extending and increasing Delores's investment - I just don't see this as having potential for a full scene. It's an extended blackout. I just wanted to make my point and get out. Plus, I have a guy on stage in a diaper. Certainly wouldn't want that to overstay its welcome.