Odd Job: Part 4

Pause. The pressure is now, obviously, on JOB to come up with a winner.

JOB: Someone who loves you.ZOPHAR halts, thinks.

BILDAD: Umm … what’s that like?

ZOPHAR: Does this person also give good backrubs?

JOB: Yes.

ZOPHAR: I’m kinda stumped there.

ZOPHAR sits back down.

JOB: The point is … I’m not going to believe that there is no God. 

BILDAD: Well… (thinks) What if there’s a God, but he’s shorter than you think?

JOB: How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?

BILDAD: Well, excuse me, Shakespeare. Sheesh.ELIPHAZ gets up and does whatever he does to signify it’s ‘his turn.’

ELIPHAZ: The answer to all this is simple. You must have sinned. Otherwise God wouldn’t have punished you so.

JOB: No, I didn’t! I was a perfect and upright man … who feared God and eschewedeth evil!

ZOPHAR: Eschewedeth?

JOB: Whatever.

ELIPHAZ: Come on, admit it. 

JOB: Admit what?

ZOPHAR: Is “eschewedeth” a word?

ELIPHAZ: Look, my child … everyone has sinned. (thinks) Have you ever cheated on your taxes?

JOB: No.

ELIPHAZ: Have you ever taken more ketchup packets from McDonald’s than you needed?

JOB: No. That’s one of my better points.

ELIPHAZ: Did you take the Lord’s name in vain?

JOB: No. I wouldn’t even go see the movie Oh, God! Book Two because I thought it was sacreligious.

ELIPHAZ: Yes, John Denver’s performance was particularly heinous in the eyes of the Lord. (pause) Did you ever watch Cinemax after two a.m.?

JOB: No.

ELIPHAZ: Have you coveted your neighbor’s wife?

JOB: My neighbor is gay. His (makes finger quotes) “wife” is 6’4″.

ELIPHAZ: Ever covet him?


ELIPHAZ: I’m just saying, you must have done something.

JOB: No, but I’m thinking about killing you right now.

ELIPHAZ: Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? Where were the righteous cut off?Pause.

JOB: What the Hell are you talking about?

ELIPHAZ shrugs and sits down. Now all three comforters are again sitting across from JOB for the relatively rapid-fire exchange that follows.

ZOPHAR: (taking a different tack) Remember what the Bible says. So no one told you life was going to be this way. Your job’s a joke; you’re broke; your love life’s D.O.A….

JOB: That’s not the Bible. That’s the theme song to ‘Friends.’

ZOPHAR: Whatever.

ELIPHAZ: (trying to cheer things up) You know, it seems like this story should be adapted into a musical.

ZOPHAR: I’m just trying to help. I’m not just giving you a guilt trip because you’re Jewish.

JOB: It’s Palestine in 2,000 B. C.. We’re all Jewish.Pause while this sinks in to all of them.

ZOPHAR: Well, then it’s definitely not because you’re Jewish.

ELIPHAZ: This is surprising? (pause) And what kind of a Jewish name is “Zophar?”

BILDAD: (still slightly incredulous) Are you sure I’m Jewish?

ELIPHAZ: (looking askance at BILDAD) I take that all back. This would make a rotten musical.

BILDAD: I mean, I don’t even look Jewish.

JOB: No doubt ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with ye! But … why are you here? And why have you given me such counsel … and (changes tone) Rabbi, why are you the only one of us with a comical Yiddish accent?

ELIPHAZ: It’s a theatrical convention.

BILDAD: Look, we’re just trying to help. 

JOB: Look … please … leave me alone now.

BILDAD: Well, it’s been real. Real … something. (searching for an acceptable excuse to leave) Look, I gotta go. You’re sooooo depressing. I’m leaving before I shoot myself.

ZOPHAR: (indicating BILDAD) I’m leaving before I shoot him.

ELIPHAZ: I have tickets to a Sammy Davis, Jr. concert.

All three COMFORTERS stand around JOB and look at him sadly, one last time.

ELIPHAZ: I’m sorry we couldn’t be of more help.

ZOPHAR: Yes. We tried our best.

The COMFORTERS leave slowly. JOB puts his head down on the table in despair. BILDAD reappears around the edge of the offstage.

BILDAD: Yeah. (beat) If you change your mind about suing the Big Guy, here’s my card…

JOB: Get out.

BILDAD: Okay, but if you get injured in a car crash…

JOB: Leave! (pause) Please. (beat) I need to be alone. The words of Job are ended.BILDAD disappears, and JOB rises, staring above the audience, to ask questions of GOD.

JOB: OH, GOD! WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME? (pause) All I demand of you … is the right to ask a question! I just want to know … Why me? Why? What did I do wrong? How did I deserve this?

Is picking your nose really that bad? Why? Why? WHY?

(long pause)

Well … I guess that’s more than one question.

Having finally exhausted the last of his strength, JOB crumples to the floor and sobs. Moments later, SATAN, wearing horns this time and holding a microphone, appears by whatever means you have the budget for. Cheesy intro/outro music.

SATAN: Hi! I’m Satan! This part of the play gets pretty boring. Lots of gnashing of teeth and wearing of sackcloth and blah blah blah. You know? In the meantime, as a public service announcement, we’re going to demonstrate what Hell is like — for those of you who started to think that Hell was a cool place full of girls like me. To start with, we’ll play some easy listening music while the stagehands will begin selling Velveeta and I bring a volunteer up from the audience to play ‘The $50,000,000 Pyramid’ with an exceptionally stupid demon.Over the PA system, Patrick Swayze’s ‘She’s Like the Wind’ or Michael Bolton’s perfectly dreadful cover of ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’starts playing. All of the stage crew appears around the audience, with handbaskets like old-time cigarette girls, full of single wrapped slices of Velveeta™ Processed Cheese Food Product. A female volunteer from the audience is selected by SATAN and invited up on stage. The music turns down a little when SATAN begins to speak again.

SATAN: Hi. What’s your name?

Volunteer gives their name.

SATAN: That’s great, (name). I hate that name. It makes me want to vomit. (pause) Anway, if you win, we promise to let you out of Hell if you ever go there. (looks at Volunteer) That seems pretty likely, considering what you’re wearing. Please meet Melchior, third Under-Demon of Beelzebub!MELCHIOR runs out, hunched over, with big, stupid-looking horns on her head, and outrageously large fangs. She should affect the mannerisms of Igor from ‘Young Frankenstein.’


SATAN: Okay, (name), all you have to do to get a permanent ‘Get Out of Hell Free’ card is to get this demon to guess the word ‘fish’ … without saying the word. Ready?By this point, the stagehands are actively (and rather bad-naturedly) throwing Velveeta at the audience. Sometimes, the music turns up really loud when the Volunteer tries to speak, drowning them out, then going down again for MELCHIOR so she can be heard. The Volunteer will obviously try to give some clues. MELCHIOR’s responses should be the same, regardless of what they are.

MELCHIOR: Um … things that are minty?

MELCHIOR: Things that improve gas mileage?

MELCHIOR: ‘Doonesbury?’ Ernest Borgnine? Things that have nipples?

MELCHIOR: Are you doing the ‘Safety Dance?’

MELCHIOR: Oh! I know! Nitrogen? Wait! Spam?

MELCHIOR: Is it ‘The Pointer Sisters?’

A very obnoxious buzzer sounds. SATAN interrupts, ending the game and putting her arm around the VOLUNTEER.

SATAN: I’m so sorry … You lose! (pause) Bet you’re used to that.

MELCHIOR: Ooh! Ooh! Was it things that you can’t put in the microwave?

SATAN: As a consolation prize … we promise not to send you to Hell immediately … although we probably should. Go away now. Now, who wants to play me in a game of Yahtzee for their soul? (pause, looking at JOB, who starts to stand up now) Oops. Looks like we’ve got to get back to the play now…The easy listening music fades out, the stagehands recede, MELCHIOR lopes back offstage, and SATAN prepares to depart. The sound of wind begins to rise in the background.

SATAN: Thank you! That’s all our time for tonight! Thank you very much! Remember to smoke lots, listen to ‘Van Halen’ with Sammy Hagar, and don’t use your turn signals … and I’ll see you soon! Goodnight! You’ve been a very special audience.SATAN and her accoutrements disappear from the stage, revealing JOB, who has stood up by now, and is listening to the sound of the strongly blowing wind.

JOB: I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard; I cry aloud but there is no judgement.The wind grows louder.

JOB: Out of the south cometh the whirlwind; and cold out of the north.The wind grows increasingly loud, then softer before GOD speaks. JOB hides under the table.

GOD: Who is this that darkeneth counsel without knowledge?JOB looks up, frightened. The sound of wind blowing is scary now.

GOD: Gird up thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.JOB, first pointing at himself in a ‘Who, me?’ gesture, then trembling, emerges. GOD appears on the platform above, in full view of the audience for the first time.

GOD: Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? 

Where wast thou when all the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 

Hast thou walked the sea in search of its depths? 

Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? 

Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? 

Canst thou number the clouds in heaven? 

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom? ; Doth the eagle mount up at thy command?

Shall he that contendeth with the almighty instruct Him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.

JOB: What shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

GOD: Gird up thy loins like a man; I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. 

Hath thou an arm like God? Or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him?

Did you build the mountains, stone by stone? Did you write the UNIX operating system? 

JOB: That was you?

GOD: Oh, yeah. (beat) Anyway. Did you invent fire? The automatic transmission? The CD player with six-disc changer? Were you the last person in the American League to hit .400? 

JOB: I thought that was Ted Williams.

GOD: (very intimidating now) Yeah, look, whatever. The point is…

JOB: (sheepishly) You’re kind of a celestial bad-ass.

GOD: Yes! Exactly! (pause) Although I wouldn’t use the word “ass.”

JOB: But what about me?

Long pause.

GOD: What about you?

JOB: Well, uh, um, I … it’s … um…

GOD: You’re kind of a terrestrial dumb-ass.

JOB: No, that wasn’t it….

GOD: No, I mean it. You’ve got the nerve to call me — and I’m missing ‘Melrose Place’ right now — and you get the Creator of the Universe one-on-one … and you can’t even think of what to say.

JOB: But…. look. Well … you know … I’ve always been a good guy, you know … and now I’m poor and my children are dead and my wife left me … and I have braces and I think one of my rubber bands just snapped… 

GOD: So?

JOB: Well … you know … I guess … I just … I … I … I…

GOD: You want me to cure your stutter. I can recommend a good speech therapist…

JOB: No! No! (finally gets it out) I have so many questions!

GOD: You get one.Long pause.

JOB: The question is … Why?Long pause.

GOD: Because.

JOB: Because why?

GOD: Because because.

JOB: (getting upset now) Why times three!

GOD: (very calm) Because times five.

JOB: Why times a million!

GOD: Because times a bajillion.

JOB: Why times infinity!

GOD: Because infinity … plus one.


GOD: Because you don’t get answers from God! 

A long, serious pause.

At very best, you get some hints … which usually lead to more questions. And humanity has gotten all the hints it’s going to get for quite some time. 

I … am … everything. Everwhere. For all time. For all creation. And I don’t owe you a report card. I am the world. So you either accept this world or you don’t.Pause.

GOD: So which is it going to be?


JOB: (sinking to his kneesI know that thou canst do everything … and that no thought can be with-holden from thee … I have uttered that I understood not … things too great for me, which I knew not. … I have hear of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee….Anguished pause.

JOB: Wherefore I abhor myself … and repent in dust and ashes.Long pause.

GOD: (clearly uncomfortable with JOB’s misery) Whatever. (pause) Look … oh, get up … look … I gotta go. Stay out of trouble.GOD’s light begins to fade, and GOD steps out of sight. Then, just before the light dims….

GOD: And one more thing!

JOB: (suddenly hopeful for an answer to his question) Yes?

GOD: Drink more milk!

GOD’s light fades completely, leaving JOB alone. He crumples into a heap onstage. Then a voice is heard; out of the light but unmistakably GOD’s.

GOD: Aww … Goddamnit. (pause, angry now at SATAN and Himself for having let this go on so long) That’s enough of this! That’s it! It’s over.Sound of a thunderclap. A light dawns offstage and illuminates from behind WIFE, who walks back onstage, then tenderly puts her hand on JOB’s shoulder.

WIFE: Job?

JOB: Who? … Go away.

WIFE: Job, it’s me.

JOB: Forget it. I don’t want to sue anybody. And I don’t want to switch to “MCI Friends & Family.”

WIFE: Job, it’s me!

JOB turns to see her for the first time, and realizes it’s her.

JOB: Oh. (goes toward her, then stops) Why … why are you back?

WIFE: Because…

JOB: Not this again.

WIFE: Because … because I have hope. I may not have faith, but I have hope. (pause) And I love you.Long pause.

JOB: (just realizing) I … I can see you. And I can hear you. … I’m … cured.JOB is overjoyed, and he moves toward WIFE and holds her close for a minute.

JOB: Will you stay with me?

WIFE: I’ll never leave you again.

They kiss. Then, after a tender moment…

WIFE: When did you get braces?

Lights come up on the platforms of GOD and SATAN; then the lights on the stage go down, with JOB and WIFE holding each other.

GOD: So … that’s it.

SATAN: You were right.

GOD: (very smug) I always am.

SATAN: Except that time you bet me on the Super Bowl…

GOD: Look, one: that doesn’t count, and two: I think you possessed the referee.

SATAN: Okay, okay … so how does Job make out on all this?

GOD: Oh, the usual … his wife is back, and that’s the important thing. He’ll get his money back … I’ll make it a lottery ticket or something. He’ll get a new business, a new house … and this one will have hardwood floors and an attractive brick exterior.

SATAN: (genuinely impressed) Ooh.

GOD: He’ll get new kids, and they won’t be such slackers so they’ll get college scholarships and he can finally afford a Jet Ski. 

SATAN: What about the braces?

GOD: Oops. (pause) Well, in six months, he’ll have a better smile.

SATAN: And the wicked?

GOD: Oh, the three comforters won’t get it too bad … they were trying to help, after all … (pause, thinks) Oh, well, you can have the lawyer.

SATAN: So everything ends the way it should.

GOD: Yes … (pause) you know, with all this stuff about second chances and whatnot… (long pause) do you remember our great falling out?Long pause again, painful almost.


GOD: And do you … do you still feel the same way?

Shorter pause.

SATAN: Yeah … I’m still a die-hard Macintosh user. That Windows 95 stuff you use is garbage. And, y’know, I have a much bigger office now than you ever gave me. (pause, then slightly sadly) I think it’s all for the best.

GOD: Yes … yes, I think so.


SATAN: You want to go out for a beer?

GOD: Hmm … perhaps. I think so.

SATAN: Come on.

GOD and SATAN walk towards each other on the overhead platform, and meet up by an exit.

SATAN: We’ve got a lot of old times to talk about.

GOD: Yes … I can order a non-alcoholic one where we’re going, can’t I?

SATAN: Sure. I’m still getting malt liquor. I know a place in ancient Mesopotamia…

GOD and SATAN walk out, side by side, still chatting, although the words cannot be heard. As they exit, the lights dim out. END.

Recommended curtain call music: “Sympathy for the Devil,” by the Rolling Stones.

Return to the index page

Odd Job: Part 3

JOB: I don’t get it. I mean, I’m a pretty good guy. I give blood. I floss regularly. I never take more ketchup packets from McDonald’s than I need. I always use my turn signals. (pause) I loved my wife and my children. I followed God’s commandments. (pause) I pick my nose, sometimes, but I don’t think that’s specificallly forbidden in the Bible.Pause, changing gears a little.

I don’t think my wife really believes. She looks at the world, and believes in things she can see, and touch. Like hardwood floors. She’s always been a great believer in hardwood floors.

But I have faith. It’s not something you can really explain. You either have the power to believe in something you can’t rationally prove — or you don’t. How can you explain that? I believe God is everything and everywhere … except for some parts of Canada.Pause.

So, I guess, I just want to know why. Why me, you know? Maybe it’s silly. A lot of people will tell you that there’s no ‘why’ to anything. 

Einstein said God doesn’t play dice with the Universe. Then again, he was the smartest man in the world, and he still couldn’t figure out to how to get a decent haircut. 

The forces of the universe pay heed to no great plan. The world is unaffected by our petty problems. Rocks, for example, seem to be particularly oblivious to news about the economy. So why should there be a reason for anythingPause.

They’re wrong. I know there’s a reason. When I held my first child, I knew there was a reason. When my wife kissed me each morning, I knew there was a reason. When I watched “Ishtar,” I wasn’t so sure anymore … but, really, I knew. So WHY?After a moment, as before, he hesitatingly walks over to the table, and picks up the Bible and the phone. JOB picks up the phone and quickly dials the number. He listens dourly, then perks up.

JOB: God? God?

Then JOB makes a realization, and starts listening then pressing buttons and mumbling to himself.

JOB: Press four for customer assistance (punches button, then listen again)… Press two to talk with the Creator of the Universe…JOB puts his ear back to the earpiece. Slowly, a light comes up on the catwalk where GOD had appeared. Again, no one is visible.

JOB: Hello! Uh-huh … uh-huh. (looking at audience, realizing they cannot hear.) Uh-huh … God, can I put you on speakerphone?JOB presses a button, and the VOICE from the other end of the phone is now audible. JOB turns and faces the audience, full front, on his knees. Heavenly choral music is heard.

VOICE: Yes, my child?

JOB: God? Is it you?Dramatic pause. Then the musiic stops abruptly.

VOICE: No … I’m one of God’s interns. He’s in a meeting right now. Can I take your call?

JOB: The Lord hath cast a blight upon me…

INTERN: This isn’t another question about, “What’s a cubit?”, is it?

JOB: No, no…

INTERN: And if it’s about wandering around in the desert for 40 years, it’s because our network is down.

JOB: No! The Lord has forsaken me! He has destroyed my life! (exasperated) The Lord hath slain all mine oxen and my sheep and my goslings … and I’m not even sure what the Hell ‘goslings’ are.Pause.

INTERN: (indignant) Are you done yet?

JOB: Uhh … yes.

INTERN: I mean, I don’t know what you expect me to do about it. I’m just an intern. (getting angry) I’m not even getting paid for this!

JOB: Look, I…

INTERN: All day it’s anoint this, smite that

JOB: Umm … can you just transfer me to Customer Service?

INTERN: (calming down now) Look … I’ll tell Him you called. (click)The light on GOD’s platform fades, and JOB turns to face the audience.

JOB: (to audience, looking as if he does not laugh, he will cry) Well, I learned something. Never call God’s toll-free technical support number. (pause) Well, that’s it. I’m officially at the end of my rope. Moving over to the table, still talking reflectively to the audience.

I’ve always been lucky. And I thought I was paying off my good fortune by being good. Now that’s all gone. Everything that meant anything to me is gone. (pause, looks at table as if noticing it for the first time, puts hand on it) Except this table. I like this table.A string is pulled on a leg, and the table breaks.

JOB: Forget it. I hated that fucking table.

The lights on the stage go out, and GOD and SATAN’s lights on the catwalks come up again.

GOD: Whence comest thou?

SATAN: From going to and fro in the earth, and up and down in it.

GOD: Hast thou considered my servant Job? There is none like him the earth a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?GOD is now speaking triumphantly to SATAN, lecturing her.

GOD: And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me aginst him, to destroy him without cause.Pause.

SATAN: Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. … But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

GOD: Satan, behold … he is in thine hand. (long pauseBut save his life!

SATAN: Sure thing. (pause) But this time, the gloves are off. SATAN is heard laughing diabolically. SATAN’s light fades, leaving GOD’s light alone.

GOD: You know … this may have been my least bright idea since creating ticks.

GOD’s light fades, and we see the light on JOB below come up slowly as we hear hideous screams.

JOB: Arrrrgh!

JOB falls to his knees, his head in his hands…

JOB: My eyes!

JOB touches his face.

JOB: My skin!

A second, then JOB touches his teeth.

JOB: Ewww. And I have braces. Oh, God! WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME?JOB crumbles into a heap on the floor. He sits with his head in his hands. After a moment, silently the Comforters — ZOPHAR, BILDAD, and ELIPHAZ, each dressed with their vestments of profession — enter and sit in the other chairs. ZOPHAR carries a book titled ‘Pink Freud.’ BILDAD has a briefcase. ELIPHAZ wears whatever it is that rabbis wear. A long, awkward pause, as they figure out what to say to so pathetic a creature.

ELIPHAZ: (comical Yiddish accent) Have we come at a bad time?Long pause.

JOB: Who are you?

ELIPHAZ: We are your comforters. I am Eliphaz, the Rabbi.

BILDAD: I am Bildad, the lawyer.

ZOPHAR: I am Zophar, the psychiatrist.

JOB: What … what do you want?

BILDAD: Want? We don’t want anything. We’re here to offer you comfort in your time of need.

ZOPHAR: We’re here for you.

ELIPHAZ: We feel your pain.

BILDAD: We’re covered by your HMO.

JOB: Thank you … but I want to be alone.

ELIPHAZ: Nonsense! You have questions … we have answers. We bring to you the accumulated wealth of the world between us. Any question that man can answer.

BILDAD: Although you probably shouldn’t ask us any questions about geography. None of us are very good at that.

Nods of agreement all around. The three comforters sit down in the chairs, facing out to the audience but still obviously facing JOB, almost as if they have drawn up sides for a debating match.

ZOPHAR: Lie down and tell us your problems.

JOB: I’m already lying down.

ZOPHAR: Well, then you’ve made your first successful step toward recovery.

ELIPHAZ: Tell us what’s wrong.

JOB: (taking a deep breath) Well … my factory was blown up. My house was blown up. My money was gone. My possessions were destroyed. I was left with nothing in the world. The efforts of a lifetime were wiped clean.BILDAD begins rolling eyes, making little “blah-blah” mouth-motions with his hand.

JOB: Then my children died. Except one who married Pauly Shore. 

ELIPHAZ: What’s so wrong with that?

JOB: Did you ever see ‘Biodome?’


JOB: Of course you didn’t. Nobody did. (beat) Anyway, I was just at the part where my kids died. Can I continue, please? (pause) Then my wife left me. This left me utterly alone, without possessions, without friends, without comfort, and without reason to live.

BILDAD: (Rolling eyes) Jeez. Looks like it’s somebody’s time of the month…JOB stops, stares menacingly at BILDAD, then lies back down again.

JOB: And now my health is gone. My eyesight is failing … I’m nearly deaf … I’m covered with sores…

ELIPHAZ: Well, I guess it still could be worse…

JOB: Oh, yeah? Look at this. (points to his teeth, the others look closely) Braces.


JOB: I just woke up this morning and they were there.

ZOPHAR: That’s awful. (pause, looking for the bright side, weakly) Well, at least it didn’t require several visits…

BILDAD: Yes, supernatural dentistry is an outpatient service now.

JOB: That’s great, but ‘The Lord is my orthodontist, I shall not want’ just doesn’t cut it right now.

ELIPHAZ: Well … it sounds like you’ve hit the end of your rope, eh?

JOB: Yes, I had that monologue a few minutes ago.Long pause, while everyone thinks of something to say.

BILDAD: So what is your question?

JOB: What is it?


JOB: The eternal question.

ELPIHAZ: Of course there are eternal questions about the universe. Like ‘Who is “Dr. Staff?” And why is he listed as teaching so many courses?’

JOB: No! I mean, ‘Why this? Why me? Why do I have to suffer?’Long pause.

BILDAD: I take that back. Maybe you should ask us about geography instead.

JOB: I’ve lost everything. What suggestions could you possibly give me that would help?

ELIPHAZ: Well … (grasping for something) you could try Ramen noodles. Very inexpensive. And microwaveable in two minutes.

JOB: I can’t. It would stick in my braces.Pause while eveyone considers the seriousness of his situation, nodding.

ZOPHAR: Look at the big picture. We are all just pawns in this universe. The great cosmic dance goes on without us.

JOB: (seeing the flaw in his theory) Which dance is it?

ZOPHAR: Um … I think it’s the Watusi, but I’d have to get back to you on that.Another pause as the pressure is on BILDAD to come up with something profound.

BILDAD: Well, you should ride in the front seat of the car, ‘cause you get there faster.

Everyone looks at BILDAD, who realizes this didn’t go over very well and tries another tack. He gets up, strolls around, giving his great motivational speech.

BILDAD: Look. So you’re in a rough situation.(very moving and emotional now) You need to stand up for what’s yours. You need to realize that there’s a reason to go on. To believe in yourself. I’m talking to you from my heart. This isn’t some rehearsed, phony-baloney … uh … phony-baloney, um…. Damn! (calls offstage) Line!

STAGEHAND: (offstage) Phony-baloney speech.

BILDAD: Yeah. Phoney-baloney speech. You need to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and take action. I think it’s pretty obvious what you should do.

ZOPHAR: Drink? 

BILDAD: No! Sue God!Pause while everybody stares at BILDAD, who is oblivious.

JOB: Please tell me ‘Sue God’ is somebody you dated in college.

BILDAD: I’ve got it all planned out.

JOB: No, no … you can’t just…

BILDAD: No, it’s perfect! The only problem is if He turns out to be too big for the courtroom.

JOB: I don’t want to…

ZOPHAR: How does this work?

BILDAD: Well, as shown in the ruling of Ibsen versus Hildebarge, first you issue a Writ of Corpus Christi, as ruled in Boy v. Fleesem & Howe, demonstrating… 

JOB: I’m not interested.

BILDAD: Even better, God has to have a rotten defense team, due to the lack of lawyers up there!

JOB: Leave me alone!

BILDAD: Come on. I’ve got the papers to sign here. And there’s nothing God can do to stop you. Suing people is part of basic human rights.

BILDAD tries to open his briefcase. It won’t open. He smiles nonchalantly, then thumps it. He thumps it again … less nonchalantly. Eventually he is pounding it on the ground, very chalantly. After a moment of staring at him, the others resume their conversation.

ZOPHAR: We’re reasonable men. Be rational. Look at it from the post-modern perspective. There is no God.

JOB: Of course there is! The whole universe is proof he exists. How else could it have been created?

BILDAD continues struggling with his briefcase, slamming in with both hands on the ground. The he flings it offstage and runs after it

ZOPHAR: Maybe it was ordered from L. L. Bean.

The others look at him incredulously.

ZOPHAR: They have a lot of nature-oriented stuff in their catalog.

BILDAD: (offstage) If God were truly just, it would have been ordered from ‘Victoria’s Secret.’

JOB: That’s not the point!

ZOPHAR gets up, strolls around or does whatever during the following exchange.

ZOPHAR: Look. I’ll offer you proof of the non-existence of God. (dramatic pause) Polyester leisure suits. No truly loving God could have allowed that to be created.ELIPHAZ mulls this over approvingly.

JOB: Okay … okay … (thinking) Well, here’s proof of the existence of God. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.ELIPHAZ mumbles his approval, then looks back at ZOPHAR.

ZOPHAR: All right … how about against God … parking tickets?

JOB: How about for God … snow days?

ZOPHAR: Against …. alcohol-free beer.

JOB: For …. Back rubs.

In the background, BILDAD, disheveled, flings his briefcase onstage and begins jumping up and down on it.

ZOPHAR: Against … Wedgies.

JOB: For … The Beatles.

ZOPHAR: Impacted wisdom teeth.

JOB: Reruns of ‘Taxi.’

ZOPHAR: Stomach flu.

JOB: The New York Observer.

ZOPHAR: Long Island Newsday.

JOB: Cool Whip.

ZOPHAR: Sales tax.

JOB: Smelly magic markers.

ZOPHAR: New Jersey.

JOB: Emma Thompson.

ZOPHAR: The show ‘Mama’s Family.’

JOB: ‘Star Wars’ movies.

ZOPHAR: Cramps.

JOB: Dogs.

ZOPHAR: The “Achy-Breaky.”

JOB: Etch-A-Sketches.

ZOPHAR: That kid from the ‘Encyclopedia Brittanica’ commercials.

JOB: Slow dances.

BILDAD gives up, returning to the group with his still-closed briefcase.


ELIPHAZ and BILDAD: Ooh. Good one.

Continue to Part Four

Odd Job: Part 2

SATAN: Actually, we’re very different. I’m much more human and emotional than God … and, as you’ve probably noticed, I’m also much better-looking.

JOB: So why are you here?

SATAN: To give you a chance to win fabulous prizes!

JOB: Really?

SATAN: Ha ha, no, no, I just love saying that. I’m here to tell you you’re getting screwed. (pause) Figuratively speaking.

JOB: By you?

SATAN: Is everything about blame to you? (beat) Well, look, partly, yeah. But, hey, it’s my job.

JOB: Why do you do it?

SATAN: I have a very nice office, two secretaries and my own fax machine. It’s not such a bad job. (pause) Look, that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to tell you there’s a way out.

JOB: If it involves switching to “MCI Friends & Family,” I’m not interested.

SATAN: No, no … Look, you’re being tested by me and … you know … to test your faith in Him.

JOB: What ever happened to the old “fill-in-the-blank-multiple-choice” way?

SATAN: Listen … the way to end this is, you just get out. Convert to Buddhism or soemthing.

JOB: But that won’t be invented for another 3000 years.

SATAN: So you’ll get a head start. That’s not the point. Be a deist or an existentialist or a French teacher or something. Invent a religion all about Taco Bell. Go around waving signs saying ‘The Atacolypse is Coming.’ Whatever. We’re testing your faith in Him. If you just stop believing in Him … or me … the question is invalidated. Then we’ll just have to find someone else to play with.

JOB: Sounds like a pretty rotten play to me.JOB and SATAN turn their heads slowly and look at the audience, then return to the scene.

SATAN: No, no, I didn’t mean it like that. But do you see? Just stop believing in God or me or any of this, and it’s finished.

JOB: But … I can’t. I can’t. I really believe in God. That’s reality. I can’t just stop believing, without meaning it. And this isn’t some 20th century angst-ridden “Can-I-reconcile-my-belief-in-God-with-the-fact-I-work-at-Blockbuster?” thing. It’s God we’re talking about. The Creator of the Universe. I mean, have you seen his resume?

SATAN: Okay, okay. I just thought that before this went any further, we should sit down and chat … you know, Princess of Darkness to Prince of Dork-ness. (sighs) I was just trying to help. (pause) In my own way. See ya.SATAN exits, either walking off, or in a cloud of smoke if you have the budget

JOB: I am having one of the strangest days.

WIFE walks onstage as JOB leaves. She is in solo spotlight … as with the other monologues in the play, it becomes obvious we have stepped ‘outside’ the normal action of the play for this. She speaks directly to the audience.

WIFE: Just between you and me, Job is the one who really believes in God. I’ve never really told him. I haven’t really talked to God since my Bat Mitzvah … for those of you Christians in the audience, that’s like a debutante ball, but without the sex in the parking lot.Pause.

My mother strongly believes in God. She’s a lot like Job. I don’t think she’s ever really asked many questions about religion. But it helps her. I remember when I was in college, and my mother asked me if I believed in God. I’ve never really needed religion. I was always too happy with the things in life I was sure were real. Myself … my children … my husband. So I don’t believe in it.

The obvious answer to the question was to tell my mother some “not-very-often-but-yes-of-course” story. Long pause.

But every good Israelite is supposed to be able to stand up for what they believe. I was an intellectual … a woman of the world … I watched movies with subtitles … why should I have lied? 

The truth will set you free, right? Right?A long, reflective pause.

“No, mom. (pause) I mean, it’s because…”

And so we argued … around and around … and, finally, I … won. My mother ran up the white flag of surrender when she finished the discussion by saying “Then just don’t tell your grandmother.”A pause, painful now.

I saw a glimmer of my mother’s doubt. Having religion gives you something. It gives you something to be secure about, to feel like you have the answer, like you have a little piece of the puzzle of life and how to live it. Losing your religion takes that away, and replaces it with this feeling like you’re smarter than everybody else … but afterwards, when nobody else is around, you ask yourself, “Okay, smart-ass, so what is the answer?” And you don’t know. 

I finally realized that making the world a smarter place does not necessarily make it a happier place. 

So … if belief is what makes Job happy … that’s something I won’t challenge. We lost everything … but we didn’t lose everyone. Our children. Each other. And maybe that’s enough.JOB comes back onstage just as the MESSENGER arrives.

MESSENGER: I have a message for Mr. and Mrs. Job.

WIFE: Is it good news or bad news?

MESSENGER: Have you ever seen ‘Waterworld?’

JOB and WIFE: No.

MESSENGER: Of course you haven’t. Nobody has. Never mind. Anyway, it’s not good.

JOB: What do you mean?

MESSENGER: Your children were all together … having dinner, catching up, being joyous and having a good time.

JOB: Yes?

MESSENGER: The roof caved in on them. And only I am escaped alone to tell thee.

WIFE: But…

JOB: I don’t understand…

MESSENGER: I know what you’re thinking. That damn cheap aluminum siding.

JOB: But what about our children?

MESSENGER: Oh, them. They’re dead.

Both JOB and his WIFE are in shock.

MESSENGER: But one of your daughters was not there.

WIFE: (hopeful) No?

MESSENGER: She was getting married.

JOB: (joyful) Really?

MESSENGER: She got married to Pauly Shore.

JOB: (falls on his knees, screams) Oh, GOD! WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME?

MESSENGER: I suppose a tip is out of the question.

Both JOB and WIFE are heartbroken, on the verge of tears, but still too shocked.

MESSENGER: Remember the words from the Good Book. (flips open the book on the table, which has heretofore been the Bible) ‘Skokie, Illinois. 80455.’

JOB: That’s the ZIP Code Directory.

MESSENGER: Yeah, it didn’t sound real inspiring.

WIFE: Why? Why did this happen? Why us? Why?

JOB: (painfully) It must have been God’s will.

WIFE: I don’t want to hear about God!

MESSENGER: Look … if you’re curious … why not just call God and ask him?

WIFE: Call Him … on the telephone?

MESSENGER: Sure. Look him up in the Bible.

JOB: (barely believing) Where do I find how to contact him?

MESSENGER: It’s in the Book of Numbers.

Pause while everyone lets this sink in.

MESSENGER: Get it? Book of Numbers? HA HA HEE HEEE HA HA!The MESSENGER doubles over in laughter while JOB and WIFE are still griefstricken and dumbfounded.

MESSENGER: (recovering) Get it? Book of Numbers? (pause) You don’t get it. (pause, sighs, changing back to serious tone) It’s there. It’ll get edited out in a later version … and the Kabbalists will go nuts for 1500 years trying to figure it out. But it’s in there. Just call Him and ask. MESSENGER exits. JOB and WIFE look at each other silently for a moment.

WIFE: It’s all over.

JOB: It’s not over. The program says there’s about another 25 minutes.

WIFE: NO! Our lives … they’re over. We’ve lost everything.

JOB: (going to wife, trying to comfort her) It’s not over. Life goes on.

WIFE: I don’t want to live. I don’t see why we should live … if life is this.

JOB: No … no … God has a plan.

WIFE: God’s plan sucks! (almost to herself) My life is worth nothing. Why should I want to be alive?

JOB: (thinks) Did I tell you I used to smoke when I was in college?


JOB is up, walking around, addressing his wife from time to time, but really talking to the audience.

JOB: Yeah. Until I quit. You know why?

It wasn’t all those anti-smoking campaigns — ‘Smoker’s lungs: Congested. Black. Different.’ … or all of the warnings on the back of cigarette cartons — you know, ‘The Surgeon General has determined that if you’re going to smoke these, you can kiss your ass goodbye right now.’ It wasn’t that an ex-girlfriend told me it made me taste like dirty Q-Tips. (pause, reflects) You know, we broke up right after I found out she knew what dirty Q-Tips tasted like.

WIFE: (sarcasm) I’d really love to hear more about your ex-girlfriends.

JOB: (realizing he’s off-track and coming back to her) I quit because a friend of mine died. He didn’t die from smoking six packs of Luckies a day, he didn’t die after drinking three gallons of Rumple-Minze and driving off a cliff or anything. He was just sick for a long time from some stupid disease nobody had ever heard of, and then he became finally terminally deceased to death.Contemplative pause.

Death is a terribly unromantic thing. It’s not dramatic, it’s not glorious, it’s just … not. Not anything. 

So why did this make me stop?

You see, at my ripe old age of 21, I had a hard time conceptualizing all those things that would happen to me eventually: Getting married, having kids… 

JOB moves over to WIFE, touches her shoulder and her stomach.

You know, buying a station wagon, having a mid-life crisis and trying to trade the kids in for a new Suzuki, and finally while I’m on my deathbed telling everyone that I buried all this gold right over in … aaaarggggh and dying before the last word so they go crazy looking for it. 

WIFE: (reproving) Job!

JOB: (laughs to himself thoughtfully) I sorta expected it to happen, but I never really believed any of it would. Especially the “dead” part. I’d be young forever.

But time really does pass. And life is too precious to waste. 

So I quit. Aside from the obvious side effects — for three weeks, I tried to smoke my term papers — it wasn’t too bad. 

But the point is … being alive is a gift. We have to be grateful for what we’ve got. And just being alive is enough to be grateful for.

WIFE: (very earnest) Is it?They look at each other. WIFE moves to JOB, and he holds her tightly.

JOB: We just have to believe it will be all right.

WIFE: I don’t know if I believe in anything anymore.WIFE pulls slowly away from JOB, and walks offstage. JOB is left alone, addressing the audience.

JOB: If only I had some sign.

A stagehand throws an envelope onto the stage from above.

JOB: (opening it greedily, then dejectedly) Apparently, I’ve been pre-approved for a VISA Gold Card.JOB, looking none too sane at this point, walks dejectedly offstage. SATAN walks back on, with a microphone, followed by NEIBUHR and LARDBALL, who sit at the chairs away from the table, as on a talk show panel. NIEBUHR is prim, scholarly and proper with a badly-stuck-on goatee; LARDBALL should be as vile as possible.

SATAN: Hi! Today on ‘Talking with Satan,’ we’ll examine the problem of Job, and is he just a loser or what? On our distinguished panel, we have Dr. Reinhold Neibuhr, a respected theologian who’s been dead for many years so he can’t sue us (NEIBUHR waves to the audience) … and Bart Lardball, a wino we just picked up off the street. (LARDBALL makes as if to wave, then takes the can of fake string and, hiding it behind his mouth, appears to vomit on NEIBUHR)

LARDBALL: Eurrgh. Sorry there, your majesty.

SATAN: Now, Dr. Neibuhr, how would you explain the theological issues at stake here?

NEIBUHR: Well, the issue is essentially whether God is always right, or whether he’s only right sometimes, or whether it just depends if he’s got a good night’s sleep. Job is this good guy, and God decides to make his life become like poo-poo, through no fault of his own. Is it within God’s right to do this? If so, who’s going to tell him to quit it? Is it within Job’s rights to resist? Since his life is now so screwed up, could he, for example, ask God for a refund? Or can we, as humans, ever understand God? If not, are there Cliffs’ Notes available? And, finally, is this really anybody’s fault? If so — and this is the major theological question — who does Job’s insurance company have to pay? And will his premiums go up?

SATAN: Mr. Lardball, how do you respond?

LARDBALL: (pointing to girl in audience) Yeah, you in the fourth row. Hey, baby.

SATAN: Well, Dr. Neibuhr, how do would you define this struggle in ontological terms?

NEIBUHR: Well, it’s rooted in the intrusion of the theological reality into the empirical and the quantifiable. It raises many burning questions — or should I say, ‘Oxidizing?’ ha ha, funny little joke there for the lads in physics. It projects the unknowable and ineffable into the space of the material plane … thereby negating much of the Kantian positivist questions, and making Sartre look absolutely like a big idiot.

SATAN: Mr. Lardball, how do you feel about the anti-Hegelianism the doctor is expounding?

LARDBALL: Have you got any spare change? I’m down to my last bottle of ‘Night Train.’

NEIBUHR: Umm … not really.

LARDBALL: Well, this is just a guess, but I’d say a Hegelian belief in absolute spirit or Aristotelian forms negate a theological empiricism? (pause) Euurghh. (vomits on NEIBUHR)

SATAN: Well, let’s take some questions from the audience. (walks to AUDIENCE MEMBER, and points the microphone at them) What do you think?

AUDIENCE MEMBER #1: (stands) Are any of you transvestites?


LARDBAG: No, but I vomit a lot.

AUDIENCE MEMBER #1: This is a talk show? With no transvestites?


AUDIENCE MEMBER #1: This sucks. I’m outta here. (leaves the theater)

SATAN: Well, (points the microphone at another AUDIENCE MEMBER) what do you think?

AUDIENCE MEMBER #2: (stands) Why aren’t there any singing cats in this? I heard there was singing cats in this play.


AUDIENCE MEMBER #2: This sucks. I’m outta here. (leaves the theater)SATAN heads back onto stage and addresses the audience.

SATAN: Well, that’s all the time for this week. Join us next time when Elvis and three singing cats join us to discuss the Road to Hell, and the best ways to get there from I-95. 

SATAN, NEIBUHR and LARDBALL exit, with LARDBALL vomiting constantly on NEIBUHR. JOB strides quickly back onstage; he appears to be losing it. JOB thinks for a moment, then hesitatingly walks over to the table, and picks up the Bible and the phone. He pages through the Bible, then apparently finds what he is looking for. JOB picks up the phone, takes a breath as if he is taking a great dive into water, and quickly dials the number. He listens intently, looking as if he has just had a revelation. Then he puts the phone down.

JOB: God?


JOB: Busy signal.After some anguished internal debate, JOB reaches into a drawer of the table and pulls out a pack of cigarettes. 

JOB: I knew our kids were hiding some of theirs around here.

He lights the cigarette. It is, of course, made of flash paper and erupts into flame and disintegrates out of his hands. JOB looks up toward heaven, then down below him.

JOB: I can’t even tell which of you did that.JOB sinks to his knees and appears ready to cry. His WIFE returns to the stage, looking grim. 

WIFE: We have to talk.

Both compose themselves for what they know will be a very serious talk.

JOB: Yes?


A DANCER, costumed in a wild parody of biblical garb, rushes on and slides into the middle of the stage.

DANCER: (sings) Oh, Jooo-seeephhhhh! Jo-Jo-Jo-Joseph with the groovy coat/Your evil brothers threw you down a moat! They took you to Pharaoh / They shaved all your hair-O…

JOB and WIFE: (simultaneously) Next door!Long pause.

DANCER: Oops. (exits)Long pause.

WIFE: I’m scared. Our lives have been … just cancelled. Like everything we ever did or worked for has vanished, it never happened. And we’re left in the ruins. We were good people … no, Job, you were perfect. You always did everything God wanted. (pause) How could this happen?

JOB: It’s God’s will.

He moves toward her, tries to kiss her comfortingly, she pulls away.

WIFE: Oh, shut up! Shut up! Don’t you hear what I’m saying? I don’t care if it’s God’s will! It’s wrong! It’s all wrong! If … if God did do this, then he’s wrong and he’s horrible and…

JOB: No, no, don’t say that.

WIFE: No, it’s awful and there can’t be a God, because if there is one and he allowed this to happen, then he’s evil! Look what He did to us! And … and you keep defending Him! Against me! Against your children! How could you do this? Dost thou retain thy integrity? Curse God and die!

JOB: No! Don’t you see, I have faith … it’s all I have. I can’t give it up now.Long pause. WIFE looks as if she has made some terrible, final decision.

WIFE: I have to go.

JOB: You can’t. The bathroom blew up.

WIFE: No. I mean I have to go. I can’t stay with you anymore. I’m so sorry. Goodbye.WIFE, overcome, turns and exits hurriedly. JOB stares after her for a moment, then sinks to his knees in despair. After a long moment, he begins to speak, addressing the audience, in solo spoltlight.

Continue to Part Three

Odd Job: Part 1

Before the lights go down — recommended music:

“God” by John LennonDarkness. The stage is empty, except for a table and four chairs. There is a book and a phone on the table. One chair is at the table; three are away from it, in a row. Eventually, two spotlights come up on two positions on the catwalk — opposite one another across the stage. No actors are visible, but their voices are heard. GOD’s spotlight comes up slowly as his voice is first heard; the same with SATAN.

GOD: Whence comest thou?Pause while the lights come up.

SATAN: From going to and fro in the earth … and up and down in it.

A light comes up on the stage, revealing JOB sitting in a chair at the table, reading a large book. Perhaps the book is “Beyond Good and Evil.’Perhaps it is ‘The Yale Shakespeare.’ (The playwright’s choice is the ‘Commodore 64 User’s Manual,’ but this may not always be available.)

GOD: Hast thou considered my servant Job? JOB begins looking around nervously, as if making sure he is alone.

GOD: That there is none like him in the earth … a perfect and upright man…JOB, convinced he is alone, starts to pick his nose.

GOD: One that feareth God and escheweth … escheweth … hmm.JOB returns to reading.

GOD: Yes … (resuming declaratory toneand escheweth evil?Long pause.

SATAN: Doth Job fear God for naught? … Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? … Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.Dramatic pause. JOB, below, picks up the phone and begins talking silently.

SATAN: But put for thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.Dramatic pause, again.

GOD: Are you serious?

SATAN: Hell yes.

Long pause.

GOD: (somewhat troubled by this oneBehold, all that he hath is in thy power … only upon himself put not forth thine hand.GOD’s spotlight slowly fades.

SATAN: I love my job…

SATAN’s spotlight fades, and the lights come up full on JOB below, who hangs up the phone. His WIFE enters.

WIFE: Aren’t vacations wonderful?

JOB: (crossing arms, grumpy) No.

WIFE: Come on. Wouldn’t you rather be here? On vacation, in a five-star hotel in Babylon, in a gorgeous room, with a gorgeous woman?

JOB: I’d rather eat myself.

WIFE: Job!

JOB: Okay, okay. It’s nice. But I’m worried about being away from the office. What if … what if something goes wrong? What if there’s an office emergency? What if the Canaanites attack and seize the office and kill everyone and start making personal long-distance phone calls?

WIFE: Job! Relax. That’s an order.

JOB: Yes, ma’am. (pause) But what if…

WIFE: But nothing. Relax. The office can get along without you for a few days. Until Monday, I get you. Repeat after me. I will relax.

JOB: (resignedly) I will relax.

WIFE: I deserve a rest.

JOB: I deserve a rest.

WIFE: This is time to spend with my family.

JOB: This is time to spend with my family.

WIFE: These are not the droids you’re looking for.

JOB: What?

WIFE: Never mind. Listen to me. You deserve a vacation. Everything is fine. With all the work you’ve done … (as if reading off a list) you’ve built a successful company. You’ve helped charities. You’ve helped your friends. You’ve helped strangers. You helped me raise our children. You’ve done everything anyone could. You deserve some time off.

JOB: I know … but what if something goes wrong? The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away … although not nearly as much as capital gains tax does. Just because you’re lucky now doesn’t mean you’ll always be lucky. The point is, everything in life is all on loan, somehow. What if everything just … goes away?

WIFE: It won’t. Because you deserve it.

JOB: I don’t deserve anything.

WIFE: Yes you do. You are … (bring JOB close, earnestly) the most wonderful person I have ever known. If there is any reason to this world … then you deserve to be happy, for all you’ve done. And now … you can spend some time … with the people who love you. WIFE kisses JOB briefly but passionately. He is entranced. She speaks to him, rather coquettishly.

WIFE: Go get Room Service and order a bottle of champagne.

JOB: (in total Aroused Guy Mode — he’d clean the windows with his tongue if she asked him now) Okay.JOB leaves the room. Wife sits down at the desk in front of the table. The phone rings.

WIFE: Hello?

WIFE carries on a mock conversation.

WIFE: Oh, hello. Yes, your father and I are having a good time.

WIFE pauses for conversation on the other line from line to line as indicated.

WIFE: Sure, he’s still fixated on work. But I think he’s getting over it. How are you? 

WIFE: Oh. Well, next time, don’t stick your tongue in the toaster, honey. And how are your brothers and sisters?

WIFE: Well, maybe his boss is calling him in because he’s doing such a good job.

WIFE: Well, there are a lot of different ways you could interpret the phrase “Talentless fat sack of shit.” What about Rebecca?

WIFE: Well, I’m sure there’s also a lot of ways to interpret the phrase “I’ve got herpes.” And Jeremiah?

WIFE: Oh, dear … well … a ‘bullfrog?’ Maybe it’s just some fraternity pledging thing. How about Moses?

WIFE: Hmm … graduated with an English major? (pause, slightly dejected) I guess he’ll be moving back in with us.

WIFE: Well, I’m glad the rest of you are getting together for dinner next week. Job and I will call you then. I love you all. ‘Bye.JOB returns, flustered.

JOB: I tried to order champagne, but all they had was something called ‘Zima.’

WIFE: What is it?

JOB: I’m not sure, but all I can tell so far is it ‘zucks.’

WIFE: It doesn’t matter.

JOB: Why?

WIFE: Because.

WIFE kisses JOB passionately. Then a knock comes at the door.

WIFE: Room service?

MESSENGER: Land shark.

JOB: What?

MESSENGER: Sorry. I mean, I’ve got a message for Mr. and Mrs. Job.

JOB: I’m sorry, but we’re on vacation. Can’t it wait?

MESSENGER: Wait for what?

JOB: (turning to WIFE, calculating) Umm … thirteen minutes.

MESSENGER: I’m afraid it can’t.

JOB, alarmed, opens a pretend door.

JOB: What is it?

MESSENGER: Well, I have some bad news.

WIFE: How bad is it?

MESSENGER: (thinks) Did you see ‘Michael’ with John Travolta?

JOB: My God … what is it?

MESSENGER: Well … they say you should use humor to lighten a situation like this. Knock knock.

WIFE: (reluctant) Who’s there?


JOB: Ivan who?

MESSENGER: Ivan to tell you your house blew up.

JOB and WIFE are stunned.

MESSENGER: And your factory. Everything you owned. Everything except your living room table and the telephone … which look remarkably like these ones. (pause, looks at audience, winks) Freak accident involving explosive toothpaste. Everything’s gone. All your wealth … all your property … everything you owned. (suddenly seriousAnd only I am escaped alone to tell thee.


The phone rings. Everyone looks at it anxiously, hopefully. The MESSENGER moves carefully to get it. He picks it up.

MESSENGER: Hello? (pause) You don’t say. … You don’t say. … You don’t say!JOB and WIFE look anxiously, hoping that it is good news.

MESSENGER: Okay, ‘bye.

JOB: What was it?

MESSENGER: He didn’t say. (beat) Look, I’m sorry about all this stuff. Sucks to be you, if you know what I mean. But remember the words of divine guidance from the third book of Ecclesiastes. “And Nimrod begat Shurboz, who begat Vortex, who begat Velcro, who begat Nerf-Ball.”JOB and WIFE look at each other, then the messenger.

MESSENGER: Well, I guess that isn’t real appropriate. Oh well. Buh-bye.

MESSENGER exits. JOB and WIFE look at one another, in shock, and JOB silentlly sinks to his knees. The phone rings. JOB and WIFE stare cautiously at one another, then WIFE moves to get to the phone. She picks it up.

WIFE: Hello?

WIFE listens intently, then dejectedly.

WIFE: It’s … It’s a telemarketer from MCI Long-Distance.

JOB: (falls on his knees, screams) Oh, GOD! WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME?

WIFE: Can he you call back?

WIFE hangs up. She and JOB, calmer now, look at each other for a while.

WIFE: How could this happen? … What if God is trying to punish me?

JOB: You? For what?

WIFE: I don’t know … (desperate, grasping for a reason) Well … sometimes I wish other people were dead, so I could have their parking spot.

JOB: No, no… 

WIFE: Maybe … maybe this is some horrible twist of luck in the lottery of life.

JOB: No, it’s not. Life is life. The lottery is a tax on stupid people. 

WIFE: Well, then why did this happen?

JOB: I don’t know. It must have been God’s will.

WIFE: How could God let this happen?

JOB: It’s not his fault.

WIFE: But we’ve been good people. Job … no … you. You’re the most perfect person I’ve ever known. If anyone in this world deserves goodness … you do. I just don’t understand why now … this … happened. Why? 

JOB: Perhaps God will give us a sign.

Expectant pause. DANCER bursts in, in outlandish robes and some silly hat. Music is piped over the loudspeakers as he sings. He dances in embarrasing Myra-esque style.

DANCER: (sings) We’re Pharisees!

We’re Pharisees!

We’re really really really tough on heresies!

We’re gonna get you, Jesus

‘Cause you don’t please us,

You make us mad, you really really cheese us!

Dancing should actually get more embarrassing now, for the finale.

You don’t mess with the Pharisees!

We’re mean like great big bear-isees!

If you blaspheme

Then we’re the team

And you’re the one we’re really gonna cream!

We’re Phaaaaaa-riiiiiii-seeeeeeeeeees! Yeah!DANCER ends, panting, on his knees, arms outstretched, between an incredulous JOB and WIFE. He pauses, gets his bearings, then looks around.

DANCER: Are these the auditions for “Jesus Christ, Superstar?”

WIFE: No. That’s next door.

DANCER: Oh. (starts to leave, then) Are there any songs in this one?

JOB: No.

DANCER: Oh. Sorry.

DANCER leaves. WIFE walks to the other side of the stage, then turns when JOB begins speaking.

JOB: We’ve just got to keep going on. If it’s God’s will, then I’m sure it’s all for the best. I mean … you know … it could be worse.

WIFE: How?

JOB: (surprised, reprimanding her) You could have died! I could have died! Our children could have died! (starting to grasp for things) We could have cancer! We could have really, really bad itches! We could have itchy cancer! We … we could have to get braces! We could have itchy braces that cause cancer!

The point is …. So we lost our things … we’re still alive. And we still have each other. A lot of people never even have that much. Just because you have something doesn’t mean the world owes it to you. We’ll just start over. (pause) Will you stay with me?WIFE hesitates, then acquiesces lovingly but painfully.

WIFE: Of course. You know I will. But I still don’t believe it. Or understand.

JOB: I don’t either. But we can beat it. Together. (pause) Come here.

WIFE: Why?

JOB: Because.

WIFE: Because why?

JOB: Just because.WIFE comes over to JOB. They embrace, he kisses her forehead, and the lights slowly fade down on them as a spotlight comes up on, revealed for the first time, SATAN onstage.

SATAN: Hi. I’m Satan! I thought this would be a good place to introduce myself. I’m a woman of wealth and taste.

You know, I’m not really as totally evil as people think. This is just my gig. 

I did a cameo as a Roman emperor … I was one of Napoleon’s generals … I was a programmer at Microsoft. Now I mainly come up with new TV game shows.

As for the personal stuff, I’m (insert height). I’m two billion years old, but people say I look younger. I enjoy candle-lit dinners, long walks on the beach, giving out parking tickets and blowing things up. My big turn-offs are hairy guys and holy water.

Sure I invented the grapeshot cannon charge, poison gas, and those faucets that you can only operate with one hand at a time. But the point is that I’m not totally remote and evil, like the phone company, for example.

do have feelings. A lot more than God. I’m more human than He is. For example, I feel really sorry for this sucker.JOB and WIFE enter the stage, looking around, surveying the damage.

JOB: So this is home.

WIFE: Or what’s left of it.

JOB: But…

WIFE: I know, I know, dammit. “It could be worse.”JOB is hurt by her tone, and scared of her mood. She wanders off.

JOB: Where are you going?

WIFE: To look for something left. Anything.

JOB: Well … this table and the phone are left.

WIFE: I hate that damn table.

WIFE leaves the stage. SATAN begins to walk toward JOB.

SATAN: Hey, Job!

JOB: Who are you?

SATAN: Job, buddy! Don’t you recognize me?

JOB: Are you an angel?


JOB: Did we go to high school together?

SATAN: Nope. I’m the Princess of Darkness, the Fallen Angel, the Destroyer of Worlds!

JOB: You’re George Steinbrenner?


JOB: Are you ‘The Fonz?’

SATAN: No, jerkface. I’m Satan.

JOB: Oh. Funny … you don’t look like Satan.

SATAN: Well, the horns and tail are during office hours. This is casual wear.

JOB: Hmm. Actually … I’d always imagined you as being a lot like God … except with a very bad attitude problem.

Continue to Part Two

Odd Job: Production Notes


Technically, it’s in the Palesinian desert in 2,000 B. C.. However, the styles of dress and speech are mixed between then and the modern day. 

The setting is written for a small stage, with the audience very close. Whether it is performed on a thrust or proscenium stage is unimportant, as long as there is a space for the actors to change costumes and collect props, out of view of the audience. The play is written with catwalks (for the beginning and end scenes) above the audience in mind, but they are not essential, and raised platforms may be substituted.

The required elements for the set are minimal; the set can be left very bare, or it can be embellished in whatever way the director and set designer see fit. You can have an angel come crashing through the ceiling at the end with a flaming book, but I don’t recommend it.Set & Property Notes

The central feature of the stage should be a table/desk with four legs and a drawer. One of the table legs is a pull-away, with a string attached. Inside the drawer is a Zippo lighter and a cigarette pack containing one “cigarette” which is actually just rolled flash paper. On top of the desk are a phone and a Bible. Four chairs surround the table; one near it, and three further away. No further set pieces are necessary.

As for props: a sturdy briefcase is needed, and books for Job and Zophar at various times,(see script) a flash paper cigarette, a lighter, an envelope with a blank piece of paper, a microphone, and a can of that string stuff (to be used as vomit). A smoke machine is helpful but not necessary.Cast Notes

Two men, and two women; except for Job, each playing multiple roles.

This play is written for young actors (and with a young audience in mind), but more or less any ages can play. However, the play contains small parts which children under two may choke on, so please keep it out of their reach.

In casting, my only advice is to look for comedic talent above other considerations. However, looks count — a Satan that looks like Roseanne Barr and a 5’ 2″ God sort of defeat many of the jokes of the play.

Other Pretentious Notes From the Author

There should be a definite difference — the audience should always be able to tell — between the lines written for this play, and when the characters speak the lines from the Bible. In the script, lines from the Bible are in boldface type. However, I’m too drunk to figure out what the difference should be in performance, so the director can figure that out. Go nuts.

I’m afraid that I’ve made the play hard to do right — “right” requiring to get all of the nuances and philosophical musings across, and still getting laughs. If you have to sacrifice one or the other — I’d keep the laughs and then advise the audience to go to church at the end.

The play is filled with pop-culture references. If these are “not hip anymore,” or (more likely) just “not very funny in the first place,” the director may insert whatever appropriate revisions he or she wishes, to best play to the audience.

So now I’ve written the play on my Macintosh and printed it out. My work is done. If you, the director and performers need to cut stuff, rearrange it or whatever (although hopefully not too much), go do it. You’re the poor suckers who have to perform it, and if I’ve written something you don’t feel comfortable doing or saying, work around it. When all is said and done, acting is about actors, and their directors.

So take this and make it work. I owe ya one.

Odd Job: Dramatis Personae

The Primary Characters:

JOB – Our Hero. Job is average-looking man, dressed in modern fashion, and is the story’s Everyman. Even though he’s kind of a dork, he’s essentially a good guy at heart. He should have sort of a Jimmy-Stewart-in-It’s-A-Wonderful-Life quality to him.

GOD – played by a man, anyway, and totally remote, awe-inspiring and somewhat dull. God is always impressive, and he should have the sort of voice to make those biblical passages sound pretty damn serious. Whether he wears robes or a Brooks Brothers suit is up to you. Then again, as the saying goes, “Malt does more than Milton can/ To justify the ways of God to man.”

WIFE – Job’s wife, and the one in the marriage with all the common sense. She’s the pragmatic, emotional, humanistic counterpart to Job’s principled, dogmatic faithfulness. She should be reasonably pretty, dress in modern fashion, and have a likeable, if sometimes sarcastic, persona.

SATAN – played by a woman, anyway, and— as in Milton — probably the most fun character in the play. She should be attractive, dress very nicely — and perhaps seductively — and seem like she’s always having a good time. She should probably smoke. Of the two major theological beings, God is the one you want doing your taxes, and Satan is the one you want to go out drinking with.The Comforters:

ZOPHAR (played by the actress playing WIFE) – A psychiatrist. She expounds the theory that God does not exist. 

ELIPHAZ (played by the actress playing SATAN) – A rabbi with a comical Yiddish accent. She expounds the theory that Job must have done something wrong somehow to explain his punishment.

BILDAD (played by the actor playing GOD) – A lawyer. He expounds the theory that God is wrong and should be sued for damages.The Deus ex Machina Sort:

MESSENGER (played by the actress playing SATAN) – The messenger appears twice, each time in slightly different garb, to announce bad news to Job and his wife. The messenger should probably steal the scene — think of Groucho Marx riding up to you on a bicycle and handing you a telegram.

INTERN (played by the actress playing SATAN) – The intern is God’s representative, and takes prayer messages for Him while He’s in a meeting. As a semi-deity, she is not as remote as God, but still has a bit of attitude to her. A nice business suit is fine for her.

DANCER (played by the actor playing GOD) – Dressed in a wild lampoon of biblical garb, the dancer (looking slightly different each time) frequently bursts in, singing bits of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ, Superstar. The other characters should be as mean as possible to him.

DR. REINHOLD NEIBUHR (played by the actress playing WIFE) — Actually, a very respected German Protestant theologian, who had some very important theories that I can’t recall at the moment.

BART LARDBALL (played by the actor playing GOD) – A shabby-looking wino with a propensity to vomit.

MELCHIOR (played by the actress playing WIFE) – A demon with dumb-looking horns and a tail. Not real bright. The Ones Barely Worth Paying Attention To:

STAGEHAND: Calls a line out to Bildad towards the end; is never seen onstage.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS #1 and #2: They sit in the audience until their time comes … since they’ll have to watch the play every night, you may have to pay these people.

VOLUNTEER: Called out of the audience for Satan’s game show at the end. This should be a real, live sucker from the crowd; but if you feel you can make it funnier with a “plant,” go right ahead. I won’t stop you.

Odd Job: Author’s Notes

There really aren’t any. I just wanted to sound pretentious.

Oh, well, if I’m at it, there are three important texts that this is drawn from, and you probably ought to read them if you’re doing this play.

First is the biblical Book of Job, preferably the Standard King James edition. It’ll give you the idea of the story, and it’s written in beautiful language, probably the best in the Bible. Job is one of the least-understood and most-overlooked parts of the Old Testament, even though everybody knows the story. It’s worth a little time.

Second is the play J.B., by Archibald MacLeish. It’s a serious, existential modern retelling of the story of Job, and it’s absolutely incredible theater. It’s where I borrowed (“ripped off”) the idea for this. It points out a lot of things about the story you never would have noticed before, and it gives a perfect idea of the grandeur and theatricality this play should conjure up in its (few) serious moments. Required reading, even if you skip the original biblical version.

Third is the one-act play God, by Woody Allen. This probably ought to be your guide for the mixed feelings of comedic irreverence and philosophical confusion that the comedic part strives for. Plus it’s totally hilarious. It can be found as part of the Woody Allen book Without Feathers. As a side note, Job can find plenty of acting cues in Woody Allen’s roles in Bananas and Love and Death.

I would like to thank all of the people who helped me and influenced me with this, but I really can’t see why I should.

Odd Job: A Marginally Comic Play in One Act

Odd Job was the first play I ever wrote, in 1996, at the behest of Emily Compton. I had just performed in a play in which the author had been at nearly every rehearsal and made a tremendous nuisance of himself, so I deliberately wrote the script to the play to minimize the author’s influence on how the director and cast would stage the play. As a result, Jen Nittoso and the rest of the bunch did a better job than I ever could have hoped for. They put all the songs to the tunes of “Jesus Christ, Superstar” which I had never seen and had no clue about, and it just turned out that the “songs” I wrote worked out that way and were hilarious to people who had seen the show.

I re-read this play recently, and I’m embarrassed by some of the cheesier jokes, but I still think it holds up well (even if some of the gags are oriented towards University of Richmond students at the time). To some extent, it exemplifies what I like out of comedic plays: an aim at solid comedy, with enough of a message to make you think about it between laughs. I’m very proud of it, and especially of the job (no pun intended) that the cast and crew did on it.

If you’re ever interested in performing this play, let me know. The script is available for free, and I’m not much more expensive.

The Players and Crew

Odd Jobwas first presented on March 20, 1997, at the George M. Modlin Center for the Fine Arts at the University of Richmond, with the following cast:

Job . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Daniel F. Stackhouse

Job’s Wife (Zophar, Dr. Neibuhr, Melchior . . . . . . . . . . . . Blaike Rainie

God (Bildad, Bart Lardball, Dancer) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Parker Otwell Roe

Satan (Eliphaz, Messenger, Intern) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sarah Bruns Fox

Directed by Jennifer Nittoso

Scene Design by Amy Hills

Lighting Design by Katie Porter

Sound Design by Katherine J. Dunn

Costume Design by Crystal Cheatham