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When someone dies, it is not uncommon for unexpected people to show up at the visitation. But it is somewhat unusual when the deceased himself shows up to comment on the proceedings.
Larry McKnight was a sometimes successful Broadway comedian and actor. In life, the things he did touched the lives of many people. At his visitation, we meet a number of those whose lives he affected and changed -- including his friends, enemies and ex-wives.
Speaking of his ex-wives, her is what his first wife, Louise, and his best friend and agent, Norm, had to say about him:
LOUISE. When he was the best thing in a show, he would get upset if someone else got a lot of laughs.
NORM. You know, you’re right.
LOUISE. Then someone would say, "You were great tonight!” and he was up again.
NORM. You’re very observant.
LOUISE. But then, if a show lasted longer than three months he went crazy.
NORM. The only thing he hated more was for a show to close before he had another lined up.
LOUISE. Living with Larry was like being on an elevator that only stopped at the penthouse or the basement.
NORM. Larry lived in fear, fear of silence. Silence is death to a comic.
An Excerpt form
(Set up: Larry McKnight has died. His spirit hovers over his own visitation, making comments that no one can hear)
FUNERAL DIRECTOR. One last question: Mr. McKnight died on Sunday afternoon. Why did you insist on having the visitation the next day? Usually, the visitation is at least two or three days later.
NORM. I am sorry to make things difficult for you, but I did it so some of his actor friends could come. Most shows are dark on Mondays.
FUNERAL DIRECTOR. Dark?
NORM. Actors usually don't work on Monday because theaters are closed.
FUNERAL DIRECTOR. Oh...
NORM. I brought this picture.
FUNERAL DIRECTOR. If you will hold it we will find a nice place for it when everything is ready. (Exits)
LARRY. Hi, Norm. (Norms walks past Larry neither seeing or hearing Larry)
LARRY. Obviously he's not going to introduce himself. That's Norman Steiner. He's my agent and best friend. You know an actor is in trouble when his agent is his best friend. (Norm places picture on table) Just kidding! Norm's not like most agents. He always was my friend first. I met him shortly after I got to N. Y. People said it would be hard to get an agent, if you were an unknown. Fortunately, Norm was just getting started and needed clients as much as I needed an agent. Every day kids come to N. Y. with great looks, with talent in singing, dancing, and acting. I didn't dance and my singing sure didn't cause any swooning. So there I was an average looking guy trying to get by singing funny songs and acting stupid. Once I saw what I was up against I was ready to head home and become a funny bus driver. Fortunately, Norm saw something that even I didn't see. Norman never pulled any punches. He said that I had to start at the bottom. The bottom turned out to be an off-broadway comedy where actors worked crew when they weren't on stage. The theater was an old empty storefront with the windows covered. We never needed a lot of chairs. A packed house was ten people. Our salaries varied from week to week, to very weak. (Shakes his head at the interruption)
NORM: (Norm’s cell phone rings and he answers) Hello, .... so far I’m the only one here. .... Okay, them I’ll see you tomorrow at the funeral. ... Well, try to make it if you can. (hangs up)
LARRY. Most of us slept in the back of the store in sleeping bags. Our diet consisted of lunch meat sandwiches. The condiments were pilfered from the automat. The only positive I can say is we didn't have any travel expenses and were never late for rehearsals. Our only hope was for a producer to show up looking for new talent. One night a guy sat in the front row smoking a cigar. Everyone was cussing him out backstage. It's really hard to perform with someone blowing cigar smoke in your face. After the show he told us he was looking for understudies for a broadway review he was producing. Cigar smoke has held a special place in my heart ever since. At last I was on broadway waiting for a comic to get sick. He never got sick, but he frequently disappeared. It seems he had an ongoing battle with the bottle. The show only ran for six months, but 20% of the time when people came to see the famous comic, they saw me. It was a start and Norman had a client with broadway credentials.
(Funeral Director show Louise in; she hesitates, fearing blame for leaving Larry)
NORM & LARRY. Louise!
LOUISE. It's good to see you Norman.
NORMAN. I am so glad you could make it.
LOUISE. You must have known I would.
LARRY. She's my first wife. She left me without a word and now she comes to say good-by. Who needs it!
NORM. Louise you're as beautiful as ever.
LOUISE. Maybe just a few more wrinkles than you remember.
NORMAN. If you live to be a hundred you'll still be beautiful to me.
LARRY. How do you like that. My best friend getting fresh with my wife. Actually, she was my wife. We've been divorced 11 years. Anyway I still get jealous. (Norm and Louise sit on love seat)
LOUISE. It really shouldn't take something like this to get old friends together.
NORM. I know. But at least you're here. What have you been doing?
LARRY. Probably avoiding me.
LOUISE. Teaching accounting at a small upstate college.
LARRY. I can't believe she gave up acting to teach accounting.
NORM. Have you remarried?
NORM. I can't believe that. I'll bet those professors are panting when you walk down the hall.
LOUISE. Only one that I know of, but I am not attracted to women.
LOUISE. It's an all girl's college. All the professors are women.
LOUISE. Oh, I have lots of men friends, but all my friendships are strictly platonic.
NORMAN. What a waste.
LOUISE. I guess I am just a one man woman.
LOUISE. (Nods) Are you married?
LOUISE. I guess N. Y. women are just not attracted to nice guys.
NORM. Maybe not, but they like guys with money. So I have attracted some interest.
LOUISE. But you're looking for love. Someday your dream girl will come along and sweep you off your feet.
NORM. I hope so. (Takes her hand)
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