Distance

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

By: Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson with additional material by Lise Mayer for The Big One (book), 1984

Two men sit centre stage on deckchairs (facing audience) as though gazing out to sea.

A: Brian? … Brian? … sorry Trevor?

B: What?

A: Do you see that boat?

B (opening eyes): What – the green one or the blue one?

A: The turquoise one.

B: No . . . sorry, yes.

A: It’s getting smaller.

B: That’s because it’s getting further away.

A: Exactly.

Pause.

B: How do you mean – `Exactly’?

A: As the boat gets further and further away it gets smaller and smaller … eventually it’ll get so small that it’ll disappear.

B: What? You mean actually disappear?

A: Yes, actually.

B: But what about the people on the boat?

A: Well they’ll disappear too.

B: But won’t they notice that it’s getting smaller and jump off while the going’s good?

A: No. Because as the boat gets smaller and smaller they get just as small – in proportion. They won’t notice they’re getting any smaller . . . and eventually they won’t be able to notice anything at all because . . . they won’t be there.

Pause.

B: Bollocks.

A: Where?

B: You’re talking bollocks.

A: I haven’t got any talking bollocks.

B: Listen: my Auntie Reenie went to Majorca for her holidays last year, and when she came back she was exactly the same size – (makes a gesture implying that she is about two feet tall.)

A: All right, all right – if you don’t believe me, go over there and try it for yourself. (Gestures towards audience.)

B: All right then, I will.

He gets up and walks towards audience. He falls into orchestra pit (or goes downstairs to audience).

A: See what I mean?

B: God, you’re right, you’re only this big (he holds his thumb and forefinger up to show size).

A also holds fingers up,. but wider apart. They compare sizes.

B: How does it work then?

A (pleased to be asked): Well it’s very simple Beverly .. . sorry, Trevor. It’s very simple indeed.

B: Oh, good.

A: Now – have you ever thought about Italian people?

B: No.

A: Oh, all right then – well, what do you notice about Italian people that’s different to us English people?

B: They speak Italian.

A: No.

B: Yes they do.

A: Yes but no – what else do you notice about them?

B: They eat spaghetti.

A: No.

B (angry): They do!

A (shouts): All right, I’ll tell you – look: they’re smaller than us.

B: Oh I see – so what you’re saying is – correct me if I’m wrong – as you go further round the universe, towards Italy, things get smaller.

A: That’s right. And not only as far as Italy – you go to Pakistan and they’re even smaller.

B: You go to Japan, they’re bloody tiny!

A: That’s right – you go all the way to New Guinea and what do you get? Pygmies! That’s why if you go all the way round the world, and a bit out – to the moon – the people are so tiny you can’t see them at all.

B: No – I’ve seen the Americans on the moon – I’ve seen it on the telly.

A: Ah well, yes, you see, that’s because as you go the other way round the world from England things get bigger. I mean, who’s the biggest people in the world?

B: The Texans.

A: Texans,  absolutely, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan….

B: Nancy Reagan.

A: That’s why the Americans can send a Texan to the moon and he’ll get smaller all right on the way but not so small that he’ll disappear.

B: Small enough to fit on the telly!

A: Absolutely.

B: That’s probably why there are so many American programmes on the telly.

A: That’s right – they travel well. I mean, that’s why the Russians have never landed anyone on the moon. They send loads of them up there but they all disappear half way. Space is full of microscopic invisible Russians.

B: Which is why the Russians make such good spies.

A: Yes, and why the Americans can never prove that they’re there. It’s a very dangerous situation.

B: I don’t think that a microscopic invisible Russian four million light years away is much of a danger.

A: That’s because you’re stupid. B: How does all this work then?

A: Air pressure.

B: Hair pressure?

A: No – air pressure. B: How do you mean?

A: Well, you see the universe is very, very big and the universe is full of planets…. Big ones … little ones….

B: In-betweeny-ones.

A: And all those planets – B: Green ones…

A: Yes, and all those planets – B: Yellow ones.

A: Yes, yes and all those planets –

B: Green and yellow ones….

A: All kinds of fucking planets all right? And all those planets must be held up there by something – otherwise the Earth would be flattened in a rain of planets. And what do you think is holding all those planets up?

B: I don’t know.

A: Ah, but I do.

B: Well what did you ask me for?

A: That’s not important…. What do you think is holding all the planets up?

B: I DON’T KNOW!

A: AIR! All those planets are held up there by columns of air (gestures) – rather like a golf tee.

B: Well, how does that make people get smaller the further you get away?

A: This is where it gets interesting.

B: Oh, good.

A (standing up – he is getting carried away): You see, over America there’s only a tiny planet – I don’t know which one it is… Mercury, I think… or Pluto.

B: Goofy.

A: That’s him. Goofy is hovering over America, and he’s only a small planet as we know, so the pressure of air in the column of air that’s holding him up is only small. It’s very light, you see, so there’s not much pressure on the Americans’ heads and they can grow up very tall (demonstrates). Whereas over Japan there’s a massive great planet, the size of Uranus, and all that’s weighing down the air very heavily on the Japanese’s heads.

(Demonstrates a Japanese person being squashed down.)

That’s why they’re all very small.

B: I’ve just realised, right, why the Japanese economy is booming. Well, they only have to make things very, very small: like cars, I mean – they’re titchydinky cars. And what does a dinky car cost?

A (instantly): Sixty-eight pence.

B: About that – yes. And then they export the dinky cars over to this country and they get big enough for us to get into and we pay thousands for them!

A: Bastards! And the Americans have got huge great cars – Cadillacs, Fords – you look at a Ford when it gets to this country and it’s nothing – an Escort or something.

B: Hey, Brian?

A: What?

B: You know that boat?

A: Well?

B: It has disappeared.

 

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