Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patty's Day at CHEERS

Here’s my St. Patrick’s Day post. (It’s Saturday, y’know…go to the liquor store NOW.) This is a scene from a CHEERS David Isaacs and I wrote. One of the many Bar Wars episodes. In this one, it’s St. Patty’s Day. Woody had been guarding the bar all night in anticipation that Gary might try to pull something.

INT. BAR – MORNING

SAM TURNS ON THE LIGHT. HE ENTERS WITH CARLA AND NORM. WE SEE THE BAR IS ENCASED IN CINDER BLOCKS. SPRAY PAINTED ON THEM ARE “HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY.”

SAM
Oh my God. Gary.

CARLA
He topped it.

NORM
Walled off from the keg. I want him dead. His family… dead. His friends… dead. His pets…DEAD.

SAM
That rat! I’ll kill him!

NORM
I thought you were going to have Woody stand guard so this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.

WOODY (V.O.)
I’m sorry, Sam. I fell asleep.

CARLA
They bricked Woody up inside the bar.

NORM
First he marries a rich girl and now this. I tell you, that guy was born lucky.

NORM EXITS TO THE POOL ROOM.

CARLA
Boy, Sam. This thing is sealed up tight.

SAM
How you doing in there, Woody? You okay?

WOODY (V.O.)
I’m feeling a little light headed.

CARLA
Thank God, he’s okay.

NORM ENTERS FROM THE POOL ROOM OPENING A CAN OF BEER.

SAM
Hey, Norm, where’d you get that beer?

NORM
I’ve got a couple cans squirreled around the bar for emergencies. I always thought it would be a nuclear thing, but this qualifies.

AN IRISH BAND ENTERS. THEY’RE ALL WEARING CABLE-KNIT SWEATERS. ONE OF THEM IS NAMED SEAN.

SEAN
Where do you want us to set up, Mr. Malone?

SAM
How about right there? (POINTS UPSTAGE; THEN, TO THE GANG) See, guys? We can still win this thing. The band’s here, we’ve got the green beer… all we need to do is take down this wall and hustle like there’s no tomorrow. Okay? Now I want to see a winning attitude here. A little positivity.

THE BAND BEGINS TO SING AND PLAY A SLOW IRISH BALLAD:

SEAN
(singing) “They broke into our Dublin home, the dirty English dogs. They took away my sister and they beat my dad with logs.”

THEY BREAK INTO A QUICK UP BEAT IRISH JIG FOR A BEAT, THEN RESUME THE LYRICS:

SEAN
(singing) “Along the ring of Kerry you can hear the bleat of gulls, I’ll sip the blood of the English from their bleached and hollowed skulls.” (TO THE BAR) Everybody!!

WOODY (V.O.)
Boy, if they look as good as they sound, Gary’s doesn’t stand a chance.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. BAR – LATER

ENOUGH OF THE CINDER BLOCKS HAVE BEEN CHIPPED AWAY TO RENDER THE BAR FUNCTIONAL. WOODY IS BEHIND THE BAR. THE BAND IS STILL PLAYING.

SEAN
(finishing a dirge) “…And everywhere I looked was death, death, death.”

A SMATTERING OF APPLAUSE.

SEAN
And now for a sad song. (STRUMS A CHORD, SINGS) “Twas a baby’s crib…”

SAM
(interrupting) That’s it! You’re finished. Here’s your money. Get out.

SEAN
Go to hell.

THE BAND EXITS.

SAM
Well, it’s over. I guess we should add up the receipts and see how we did.

CARLA
What’s the total, Woody?

WOODY
(figuring on a calculator) One million five hundred thousand dollars.

FRASIER
Decimal point, Woody.

WOODY
Hold everything. A hundred and fifty even.

25 comments:

Paul Duca said...

How did you find the Irish songs...or like Lieber and Stoller, they were just the product of two nice Jewish boys?

Eileen Kavanagh said...

Funny, funny, funny. Thank you!

Eileen Marie Kavanagh
(can't get much more Irish than that--except all the names of my 10 brothers and sisters)

Pat Reeder said...

I'm assuming you wrote the lyrics to the Irish songs yourselves, since they're much too cheerful to be the real thing.

Coincidence: one of my two verification words was "irsBr," which could be an abbreviation for "Irish Bar."

Max Clarke said...

A great episode. First saw it on reruns in the 90s.

Had to watch it twice to catch the lyrics sung by the Irish band. Couldn't stop laughing. As unexpected as the "Butcher" cover of that Beatles album decades ago...but funny.

As I recall, the Irish band sang something like, "Limey scum, limey scum, I toss the bomb and still they come."

Never bought the ending as it played out, though, when Harry The Hat poses as a real estate investor and buys Gary's bar with a bad check.

Still a good episode, strong writing and acting.

"And everywhere I looked was death, death, death."

Dan Tedson said...

That singer for the band knocked it out the park. Even his simple "Go to hell" line was funny. I like the change to Norm saying, "That's how I want to feel!" after the Woody lightheaded line too.

I still use the "Limey scum" song and the "And now for a truly sad song..." till this day. The older I get, the more I realize my sense of humor is the unholy offspring of Cheers and Bugs Bunny.

Kelly Sedinger said...

YouTube is our friend! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbndv-Gbbds

Frank said...

They just don't write Irish songs like that anymore!

Mike said...

OK. Can I make some belated suggestions? I know you write & perform for an American audience but...
1) Patty is a girl's name, Patricia. Paddy is the short form of Patrick. Or Pat.
2) Limey is strictly an American term for the English. The Irish don't really have a slang term for the English (that I know). The nearest is Brit, pronounced as though spitting venom. Wiki suggests Sassenach, but this is only used by the Scots to refer to the English. (Originally used by highland Scots to refer to lowland Scots.)
To keep with the theme of ancient hatreds (which is entirely accurate), try Cromwell, as in Oliver Cromwell, or his army the Roundheads.
3) Recognised Maurice Roeves (Sean) straight away. Great actor, born in England, raised in Scotland, but his Irish accent... But then we've never forgiven you for the English accents on Frasier.

Johnny Walker said...

Haha. Very true, Mike. I'd love it if all TV shows got the details right, but I guess that's the last thing on a writer's mind when a deadline is looming.

Paddy not "Patty" website: http://t.co/V0i47QVP

Ken Levine said...

Really? This is an issue? It's Paddy not Patty? I usually don't respond to these picky stupid corrections but every so often I'll get one that just makes me laugh. Mike, you're welcome to visit all the other free blogs that post new material every day but feature better spelling.

xjill said...

Laughed just reading it!

Larry said...

Wonderful. Brought back memories of how great the show was.

Michael Zand said...

Still funny after all these years.

I'm confused by something
Mike said:
But then we've never forgiven you for the English accents on Frasier.

Which English accents on Frasier? Jane Leeves was an actual Brit, so it couldn't be her. John Mahoney was a British actor with a flawless American accent and Niles and Frasier spoke in pompous American accents. So who the fuck was he talking about?

Kelly Sedinger said...

Well, spelling when it comes to names can be more of a prickly issue than whether or not you spell, say, 'deoxyribose' correctly. My first name is Kelly, which has led to people making assumptions as to my gender throughout the years...to the point where some people ask me if I spell it "Kellie", to which I get a tad irritated.

(Oh, by the way: were you and your partner responsible for Woody's "Kelly" song? Because that song did people with my name exactly ZERO favors! I was a senior in high school when that episode aired, and the next day, guess what I heard in the halls the ENTIRE day. In fact, to this day, occasionally someone will say to me, "Hey, were you a fan of the show Cheers?" To which I invariably respond, "Yes, and don't you dare sing it.")

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken: Leeves is British, but her time in LA has caused her accent to morph somewhat. But besides that, all my British friends commented on the fact she just doesn't have a Manchester accent. She's from Essex, some 200 miles away. And the odd thing about the UK is that very small distances can make a huge difference in accent - Yorkshire and Lancashire are quite distinct from one another, and they're adjoining counties!

So, while Leeves sounds authentically English she *doesn't* sound like the kind of English Daphne is supposed to be - and the difference is very noticeable and quite jarring to Brits. (Note that TV and radio in the UK try to be very specific about regional accents in their drama.)

I've been told that John Mahoney, who *is* from Manchester (but as you say has taught himself to sound flawlessly American), sometimes helped Leeves out with accent coaching.

wg
P.S. If Mike hadn't pointed out the Paddy thing I would have. It's not a complaint, but it's hard to let stuff like that go so that it gets stuck wrong in people's heads.

Johnny Walker said...

Actually as a British person I want to clear this up: Daphne's accent is NOT a real British accent. Nobody sounds like her. At best it's a weird amalgamation of some regional accents, but it's far from authentic. The actress, Jane Leeves, has a perfectly normal British accent when she speaks, and is (as Wendy pointed out) from Essex.

Yes. The producers hired a British actress, and then worked with her to create an accent they thought American audiences would respond to (as Leeves explained when she was interviewed over here after Frasier's success).

It's not as bad as Dick van Dyke's accent in Mary Poppins, or anything like that, and it was more readily accepted here because the show was so great, and probably because she's actually British.

(For the record: British people get very annoyed when we hear bad attempts at our accent - ask Don Cheadle, poor guy! It's not out of snootiness, though, as I imagine some might think. I think it's actually because we feel part-American: It's a bit like being insulted by someone you consider yourself an equal to. Like a friend is suddenly really thoughtless and hurtful. It's hard to explain, but it's not because of snootiness, that much I know.

Likewise, I'm pretty sure Irish people get irked when Americans say "Patty". I imagine the cultural equivalent would be if a sizeable portion of Ireland referred to The White House as "The White Castle" out of sheer ignorance - and then got angry when you tried to correct them.

It's not the end of the world, and nobody is saying they're ungrateful for this amazing blog, but it's hard not to want to correct!)

Johnny Walker said...

And, perhaps you don't know this, Ken, but Paddy is a name with a TON of historic and cultural significance for Ireland. Patty is just short for Patricia. It may sound close enough for you, but it's likely world's apart for them.

Possibly like spelling Washington as Wishington.

In other words, it's got nothing to do with the quality of your blog (which is awesome!), but being corrected is pretty much inevitable.

Dan Tedson said...

This is why grammarians get picked last at comic camp.

Johnny Walker said...

That would be funny if it wasn't true. *sniff*

Most people forgot to take the dictionaries I bought them, and never saw anyone wearing the "Comedy Doesn't Have To Be Political To Be Correct" T-shirts I got printed.

Comic camp can be hell for pedants.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Johnny: Along those lines there's also the weird Aerican belief that Wimbledon is pronounced WimbleTon.

wg

Paul V. said...

"And now for a sad song..." We still use that line in my (Irish) family. One of the best scenes ever.

Johnny Walker said...

Wendy, my favourite London/American mispronounciation is "Lie-Chester Square" :) I find myself saying it to amuse myself.

Ken Levine said...

I do occasionally re-post pieces because (a) it ran 3 1/2 years ago, and (b) I've picked up a lot of new readers in that time. I wish more people would read the archives. A few of those buried posts are actually pretty good.

Dan Tedson said...

Are you responding to another thread over in this one? Has our relationship deteriorated to such a point that you've given up even hiding your other threads from us?

Anonymous said...

from Dublin Ireland I can say that the "Pattys Day" thing isn't Irish but you nailed the Irish Ballads right on the head :-)