The Illustrious Meepit Show
Note from the author: My thanks go to goosher, lolzana, bluecloud300 and nativsis for their generous character donations. If you want to learn more about Smelly, Awux, Ami and Garlic, the linked pieces may be of use to you.
(Setting: The Altador Stadium, packed to the rafters, if the architect had built the rafters seventy to eighty percent of the way up the building. The Yooyuball goals have been removed, and replaced with a large podium in the centre. Scattered around the stadium are scorch marks, and there are gaps in the stand, where seats have been destroyed. There is a faint smell of dung in the air. In a semi-circle around the podium are four stools. A Mutant Scorchio is standing on the podium, and the chairs are filled with the four contestants – from left to right, a Fire Faerie, a Yellow Hissi in a Moach costume, a Royal Aisha and a Biscuit Kiko. At the very top of the stadium, neon letters read ‘The Meepit Show’. Around the outside of the stadium, there are three entrances. One entrance is marked ‘Contestants’, another is marked ‘Roan’ and the third one is labelled ‘Producxzq’. Underneath the latterly-mentioned exit, a Skunk Draik waits nervously in his role as producer.)
ROAN: Good evening, and welcome to the Meepit Show for Illusen Day! I would describe it as a special, but these are rapidly becoming the norm, and the Illusen Day Average doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Besides, we’re widely renowned for being completely inaccurate as a show – why should we start being truthful about the contestants now?
PRODUCER: You can’t say that.
ROAN: Why not?
PRODUCER: Describing the contestants like that is insulting and demeaning.
ROAN: But surely there must be reasons against doing it as well?
PRODUCER: It’s just that...
ROAN: I don’t see that you’re in a position to argue. You’re supposed to be the producer, yet I haven’t seen you produce anything on this show. Ever.
PRODUCER: (Defensively) I work behind the scenes.
ROAN: But now you’re in front of the scenes, ergo you’re not working.
PRODUCER: That’s not how it works.
ROAN: Well, you should be an expert in how things don’t work.
PRODUCER: I’ll have you know that my job involves a great deal of multi-tasking...
ROAN: (Interrupting) It’s not easy drinking a soda and putting your feet up.
PRODUCER: (Ignoring him) ...numerous logistical tasks...
ROAN: Shifting your soda from one hand to the other?
PRODUCER: ... being interrupted by my colleague...
ROAN: I don’t do that.
PRODUCER: ...and generally making sure that the whole show fits together and works properly.
ROAN: Well, you’re failing dismally at that. At this stage in the show, is it right that I still haven’t mentioned any of the contestants?
PRODUCER: Not right, no. But not unprecedented.
ROAN: Anyway, I think you’ve been distracting enough as it is – perhaps you’d like to get back to doing nothing. Some of us have a show to do. So, we open with our first contestant. (Roan sniffs, before recoiling slightly) Blimey, you’re smelly.
FIRE FAERIE: How did you know?
ROAN: What do you mean?
FAERIE: My name. How did you know who I am?
ROAN: You’re... called Smelly?
SMELLY: Yes. I’ve been told it’s quite appropriate.
ROAN: But you’re actually called Smelly? It’s not a nickname, or short for something. Smelliphant? Smellbourne? Ermintrude? Something like that?
SMELLY: Just Smelly.
ROAN: Well, that’s no good. Can’t I pretend you’re called something else, so then when I legitimately call you Smelly, it’s insulting?
SMELLY: No, you can’t. Why would I want you to do that?
ROAN: You wouldn’t. And that’s precisely the point. Next contestant please!
HISSI: Er... (Nervous pause) Hi, I guess.
ROAN: That’s a fantastic introduction - I don’t even know where to start with you. Fortunately, whatever I say should impress you – Petpetpets aren’t notorious for their intelligence.
HISSI: It’s... a costume. (He wilts under Roan’s withering glare.) Or something.
ROAN: So, you enjoy displaying yourself to the world as a creature which is small, insignificant and annoying? Anything else we should know about you? A name, perhaps?
HISSI: (Quietly) Awux.
ROAN: Bless you. Now, what’s your name?
HISSI: (Slightly louder) It’s Awux!
ROAN: Sorry, what was that?
HISSI: (Shouting slightly) Awux!
ROAN: It’s OK, I heard you the first time. No need to shout. Goodness, what’s wrong with you?
(Awux shrinks away from Roan as he turns to the next contestant.)
AISHA: Hi! My name is Amikarashui, but you can call me Ami. You must be Roan.
ROAN: I don’t have to be. I could be some other quiz-show hosting Mutant Scorchio – there are loads of us about!
AMI: (Laughing slightly) Ah, that trademark wit. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Roan.
ROAN: (Slightly puzzled) A... pleasure?
ROAN: But... I was just rude to you. That’s not supposed to be pleasant.
AMI: It was a good line, though. You clearly put a lot of work into what you do, and I appreciate that. It’s all in the name of entertainment.
ROAN: It is all in the name of entertainment! (Turning to the Producer) See? I told you it was entertaining! I guess public research isn’t one of your jobs either.
PRODUCER: You’ve only found one person who agrees. You’ve got somebody next to her trembling!
(Awux is indeed shaking. Ami steps off her stool and moves over to comfort him.)
ROAN: Well, my market research has a filter in, to ensure results are as accurate as possible.
PRODUCER: Does that filter out anybody who disagrees with you?
ROAN: No. It removes everybody who clearly isn’t thinking straight.
PRODUCER: And how do you define ‘thinking straight’?
ROAN: Well, for a start, if they don’t think I’m witty and intelligent, or they don’t agree with me, something’s clearly not right. I can’t take their thoughts as representative of public opinion.
PRODUCER: So you get rid of anybody who disagrees with you?
ROAN: No! Weren’t you listening? Or are you too busy doing nothing to notice?
PRODUCER: I am busy!
ROAN: Me too. I’ve got Stinky, Shivery and that nice one over here to keep entertained.
KIKO: (Burbling excitedly) And me! And me!
ROAN: Oh, fantastic. (Turning to the Kiko) We’ve got another contestant?
KIKO: ‘Nother ‘testant! (He giggles happily.)
ROAN: Well, it’s refreshing to have somebody intelligent and eloquent for a change. What’s your name?
ROAN: Good choice of name. Just a quick introductory question for you - as I’m sure you’re aware, Neopia’s economy is certainly in a state of fiscal emergency, with inflation causing prices to skyrocket daily, and many items becoming nothing more than dreams for the average Neopian, due to the price increase, combined with relatively low interest rates, resulting in costs increasing faster than they can earn. Your thoughts?
GARLIC: Sky rocket! (He begins to sing) Sky rocket, rocket sky, brices up!
ROAN: (Nodding) Very true, very true. Anyway, now we’re all a bit more educated than we were a few seconds earlier, it’s probably time to stop the introductions. That is everyone, isn’t it, Producer?
PRODUCER: Oh, yes.
ROAN: Right. Just remind me for a second – what show is this today?
PRODUCER: Illusen Day.
ROAN: And now tell me how any of these contestants are even in the slightest bit relevant to Illusen Day.
PRODUCER: (Nervously) I... don’t know what you mean. They’ve all got, er, very strong connections with... you know, trees and stuff.
ROAN: Do they really? Well, from where I’m sitting, I’ve got one contestant who smells...
PRODUCER: ...(quickly) ergo, who has been very close with nature - albeit the muddier parts of nature...
ROAN: ...one who spends all his time trembling...
PRODUCER: ...like a leaf...
ROAN: ...one who appears to like everything...
PRODUCER: ...presumably ‘everything’ includes nature...
ROAN: ... and one who appears to possess the equivalent mental capacity of a small shrub.
PRODUCER: ...who... wait, you can’t say that!
ROAN: Why not? Because it’s rude, or because I’m arguing for the wrong side.
PRODUCER: Well... both, I suppose.
ROAN: You know me. I’m happy to switch to anybody’s side if it means I can throw a good insult out there. Anyway, I think that’s left us with no illusions regarding the quality of your contestants. I highly look forward to the Grundo Independence Day show with Doctor Sloth, and the show cancelled due to lack of interest with me in.
PRODUCER: The day that was cancelled due to lack of interest was two weeks ago.
ROAN: Believe me, if it were up to me, most Meepit Show days would be cancelled due to lack of interest – be grateful I was implying there was only one. In any case, we now get down to the nuts and bolts of the show, while I keep an eye on the spanners and try to screw everything up. Today, though, in celebration of the singular nature of the world around us, in keeping with Illusen’s standard of only asking for one item at a time, and because I want this to be over quickly, we’ll be sufficing with just one round today. I’ll ask all of you three questions, you’ll all give me three answers, I’ll arbitrarily award points, the Producer’ll do nothing...
ROAN: ...and we’ll all be happy. So, we start with Ermintrude.
ROAN: Yeah, Ermintrude. It’s your name, remember? Or do I have to forcibly remind you?
SMELLY: Hey, no need to be all aggressive on me. Peace is the way forward.
ROAN: Oh, you don’t need to tell me. I’m always peaceful.
SMELLY: Are you?
PRODUCER: Are you?
ROAN: Certainly. What I say isn’t offensive at all. It only becomes an argument when the person replies back – I can’t be deemed responsible for that. Anyway Ermintrude, what are the two weapons held by the statue of King Altador in the Hall of Heroes?
SMELLY: Weapons? The world doesn’t need weapons. Don’t grow angry; grow flowers.
ROAN: Lovely sentiments, I suppose – but in a battle between two armies, one wielding crossbows and the other armed with chrysanthemums, I’m right behind the pointier ones every time. You lose a point for not answering, and another for misplaced idealism. We move on to Awux.
AWUX: Please don’t hurt me!
AMI: (Still comforting Awux, glaring at Roan) Would you mind being a little less... direct with him, please?
ROAN: If you insist. I do need to ask him this question alone, though.
AMI: As you must. (She returns to her chair.)
ROAN: (Smiling broadly) So, Awux...
AWUX: (Timidly) ...yes?
ROAN: Don’t worry, I’ll be nice. Your question... (Roan peers at his card for a moment, then suddenly looks up and leaps off his podium towards Awux.) BOO!
AWUX: (Jumping) Argh!
ROAN: (Returning to his pedestal) Ah, good fun. Have a point for the experience. Ami...
AMI: (Peeved) Roan! What are you doing, bullying that poor little Hissi?
ROAN: Excellent – you seem to have answered your own question there. Whatever happened to you being nice to me? It was a nice change.
AMI: (Stiffly) Well, I’ll be nice to you when you’re civil to those around you – and I expect a full apology to Awux. Or you’ll have me to answer to.
ROAN: Actually, I think you’ve got me to answer to – otherwise, my role as quizmaster is somewhat demeaned. Don’t worry, I’ll apologise...
AMI: Thank you.
ROAN: ...perhaps. Anyway, what does the National Neopian bank offer in return for opening a bank account?
AMI: I think it was fifty neopoints.
ROAN: Correct. How did you remember that?
AMI: Oh, I used it to buy food for the poor pets at the Money Tree who were starving. I remember getting fifty Tchea fruits for it.
ROAN: (Amazed) You bought...? How is it possible for you to be so nice? Next, you’ll be telling me you don’t kick Puppyblews. You can have a point – provided you don’t waste it on the needy. They’re needy for a reason – if you gave them what they were after, they wouldn’t need anything. They’d merely be y.
ROAN: Exactly. As in “Why bother?” Or, to help shift this show along a bit, why not move on to our next contestant – namely, our intellectual powerhouse, Garlic! Your question - who is imprisoned in Meridell Dungeon for being a traitor?
GARLIC: Tray tour! Tray tour!
ROAN: Sorry, didn’t quite catch that. Did you say ‘Valrigard’?
ROAN: Close enough. I think his friends call him Falgad, anyway. You can have a point. We return to Ermintrude.
ROAN: Now then, no need to be rude. Honestly, I thought you weren’t keen on confrontation.
SMELLY: I didn’t confront; I corrected.
ROAN: Precisely what I do, Ermy. Or, should I say, Germy?
SMELLY: It’s Smelly!
ROAN: Fine, I’ll call you by your normal, insulting name, if you want to be all dull about it. Your question – what is Magax’s preferred weapon?
SMELLY: Why are all my questions about war?
ROAN: They’re not all about war.
ROAN: Really! I’ve got one in here for you about... (He flicks through the stack of cards) ... nope, all war. Wow, there are some really good ones in here!
SMELLY: Oh, I don’t know. The ghost... sword?
ROAN: Is that really your answer?
ROAN: Oh, come on – you’re not even trying! All I am saying is give points a chance. Well, you’ve lost another one. Next, we turn to our good friend Mr. Moach over here.
AWUX: (Nervously) Hello.
AMI: (Warningly) Roan!
ROAN: (Staring back at Ami for a moment, before switching his gaze to Awux, and speaking with a very forced, polite voice) I’ve been told that I’ve been a bit harsh on you so far today. I’ve been forced to... ahem, I mean I’d like to apologise.
AWUX: Oh, that’s OK. You can’t help the way you are.
ROAN: (Maintaining forced politeness) That’s true. So, Awux... cue polite conversation. Er... do you have any hobbies?
AWUX: Well, I collect rocks...
ROAN: (Interrupting, politeness abandoned in favour of biting sarcasm) Oh, you collect rocks, do you? How fantastically normal and sensible of you! How is it possible to take anybody like this seriously?
AWUX: (Timidly) Er... can I have my question now?
ROAN: Can you have your question now... what?
ROAN: No, the answer I was looking for was ‘No’ – as in ‘Can you have your question now? No!’. You lose the point I gave you earlier, and I’ll take another one off as interest. We come to Ami.
AMI: Dearest Roan.
ROAN: That’s right, I don’t accept any cheaper models of me. See, wasn’t that nicer of me?
AMI: It was... an improvement. (She sighs.) Although I’m sure you could be even more of a pleasant person if you tried.
ROAN: I don’t doubt that. I could probably also be better at Yooyuball if I tried. The point is moot. Your question – what did Mr. Lupid teach at Neoschool? Before he was sacked for not having any students, obviously.
AMI: Neoschools? I thought that was just a myth.
ROAN: You obviously weren’t paying attention last year. The correct answer is ‘Art’. You lose a point. Next, we return to our source of utter nonsense. But before I get to the Producer, I’ve got another question for Garlic here. What material are the toys produced in Freaky Factory made out of?
ROAN: Would you...like to have another guess?
GARLIC: Jubbies! (Starts singing) Jubbie, jubbie, factry, factry...
ROAN: Is this some fancy wording for ‘Kreludite’?
GARLIC: (Happily) No!
ROAN: Are you sure about that? Are you sure your answer wasn’t (spoken very deliberately) ‘Kreludite’?
ROAN: Aha – a double negative! So that is your answer! Amazingly, that is right.
PRODUCER: Roan, why are you actively encouraging points?
ROAN: I’m not – I’m actively encouraging an idiot. There’s a subtle difference. Anyway, isn’t it about time I started making up the points deficit on the scoreboard from pessimistic scoring in previous rounds?
PRODUCER: I don’t think that solves the problem.
ROAN: Just how many points is that that I’ve incorrectly assigned?
PRODUCER: Well, it’s... (He trails off.)
ROAN: Guess numbers aren’t your forte either. What’s the current score?
ROAN: Quick note – when anybody starts a sentence with the word ‘er’, you can tell that they don’t have a clue what the answer is, but that’s not going to deter them from giving you one, which they’ve probably just made up. Is that right?
PRODUCER: Er, no, it isn’t.
ROAN: Just as I suspected. We move into our final round now, and it’s all to play for. There are just two possible outcomes left for everybody on the show now – you can suffer ritual humiliation at my hands, or you can be me. Let’s find out who the least useless is with the last round of questions. Smelly.
SMELLY: Is this another fighting question?
SMELLY: Why can’t you embrace a non-violent approach to life? You know, celebrating peace, living in harmony with the world, hugging trees, that sort of thing.
ROAN: Hugging trees? You mean, trees have a purpose other than to be cut down and burned.
SMELLY: (Astonished) You... burn trees?
ROAN: (Mock astonished) You... don’t?
SMELLY: (Starting to sob) How could you be so cruel?
ROAN: (Extending hand) Hi! I’m Roan – you may remember me from such incidents as ‘throwing rocks at you’ and ‘demanding you take a bath’.
SMELLY: That was you?
ROAN: No – although, to be honest, I’m not surprised it’s happened to you before. Anyway, what is the name of the biggest marrow ever grown in Meridell.
SMELLY: (Quickly, without thought) Old Bessie. (She pauses for a second and stops crying.) That... wasn’t about war.
ROAN: (Checking the card) Oh, sorry, gave you the wrong question there. Er... (He pulls another card out.) It should have been ‘In really big battles with lots of fallen trees and stuff...’
SMELLY: (Sniffing happily) You... gave me something I knew about! You asked me a nature question!
ROAN: Er... yeah, whatever. Have a point or something.
SMELLY: You are a nice person!
ROAN: (Quietly) Keep it down, will you? You’re ruining my reputation!
SMELLY: (Cheerfully) Would you like to go on a march with me? There’s a nice protest next weekend against books. (She shudders.) Horrible things, displaying parts of tree with ink splattered on them, and trying to pass it off as culture!
ROAN: Sorry, I’m busy that weekend.
SMELLY: With what?
ROAN: Book club.
SMELLY: (Her smile fades, and she glares at him.) Just when we were getting on well.
ROAN: I know, I was starting to get worried too. We move back to Awux.
AWUX: Er... could I actually have a question this time? (Blanching under Roan’s gaze) If... it wouldn’t be too much of a problem with you.
ROAN: Why would I bother with a question? I’ve got somebody dressed as a Petpetpet who collects pebbles – questions are the last thing on my mind. There are enough puns there to last me a lifetime.
AWUX: Can I... have some points, then?
ROAN: No you can’t, Bug-Eye.
AMI: Roan, you need to stop being so rude to the poor creature!
ROAN: I didn’t know there was anything rude about refusing points for incorrect answers.
AMI: Not that, the insults.
ROAN: What insults.
AMI: Bug-Eye, for one.
ROAN: How rude! Awux, I wouldn’t stand for that if I were you. In the meantime, whilst you brew your next offensive, Ami, what is on the cover of Advanced Poetry?
ROAN: Wait a second. Producer?
ROAN: Didn’t I see that question on the Daily Puzzle a few weeks ago?
PRODUCER: Er... no, you didn’t.
ROAN: Just as I suspected. So that crosses ‘in-depth question research’ off the list of things you do. Although I’m not sure whether it technically counts as a list anymore – it’s only got one thing left on it, and that’s nothing.
PRODUCER: No, come on, what is it? What have you concluded is my sole purpose for being on the show?
ROAN: That was it. ‘Nothing’. It seems that we’ve proved fairly conclusively that you have no active role at all on this show, Producer.
PRODUCER: It... appears so.
ROAN: And there’s no point having dead wood on this show.
SMELLY: (Gasping) Dead wood? How could you be so cruel?
ROAN: I’m sorry, Producer, but I’m going to have to give you the sack.
PRODUCER: (Stunned) You can’t do that!
ROAN: Yes, I can. And I will!
PRODUCER: But... but...
ROAN: No more excuses. (Roan reaches under his podium, and pulls out a large, brown bag made of cloth) Somebody’s got to take the rubbish out.
PRODUCER: You know how much I hate that job.
ROAN: Maybe you should have thought of that before you decided to spend your time doing nothing, lazing about and refusing to put any effort in whatsoever.
PRODUCER: Fine. Hand it over.
ROAN: (Surprised) But you’re all the way over there! It’d take at least five steps for me to get this to you – if you think I’m doing that, you’ve got another think coming. And, depending on how that one goes, another two or three until your mind reaches a more sensible conclusion.
PRODUCER: (Sighing) As you wish. (He walks across to the podium, takes the sack from Roan, and promptly leaves through the exit marked ‘Producxzq’.)
ROAN: Sorry, where were we?
AMI: The answer to the question you asked. It’s ‘Quill’.
ROAN: Oh. Fantastic – that’s correct. You lose a point.
AMI: What for?
ROAN: Because I can. Finally – incidentally, a word that can never come too soon – Garlic, what is the literal translation of Gadgadsbogen? Here’s a hint for you – the answer’s ‘Juppies’.
ROAN: No, I’m afraid the answer we were looking for is ‘Juppies’. You lose a point. And that, happily, brings us to the end of the show. As the festivities begin to celebrate Illusen Day, we rest, satisfied that we’ve done very little to contribute to it. All that’s left before I can go home is to reveal the scores. In last place, with a naturally astounding minus two points is Stinky. Joint second, with one under par, is the friendly Ami, and BOO!
ROAN: Never gets old. But our runaway winner tonight, with a staggering zero, is our burbling lunatic, Garlic! Cue polite applause.
(Polite applause rings out.)
ROAN: That’s enough.
ROAN: And so I leave you with a quote from that famous philosopher, me. In his immortal words, “Go away! Show’s over. Go on, scram!”
(Grumbling loudly, most of the audience leave. The ones that are left marvel at the synchronised moaning they have just experienced, before departing themselves in a distinctly less organised fashion.)
PRODUCER: (Emerging from the exit marked ‘Producxzq’) I’ve sorted the rubbish out.
ROAN: Not completely – you missed the contestants.
PRODUCER: Maybe next time you should have a go at producing the show, if this is the attitude you’re going to take. Then maybe you’ll find out that it takes a lot of time and effort to produce a good one.
ROAN: Is that why you don’t bother most of the time?
PRODUCER: That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?
ROAN: Well, if you’re such a good producer, how come the show’s ended, but the script hasn’t stopped yet?
PRODUCER: (Drawing himself up haughtily) Well, I can at least sort that out for you.
ROAN: How so?
PRODUCER: Oh, it’s easy. You just write...
ROAN: Very impressive.