Standup Comet - Act Three

Excerpt from a one-man play entitled, Standup Comet.

 Joseph Voelbel performing comedy on a Venice Rooftop. 

Joseph Voelbel performing comedy on a Venice Rooftop. 

 Drawing of a super star.

Drawing of a super star.


A lone meditation cushion sits vacant beneath a spotlight.
Beside it rests an acoustic guitar in a stand. On the other
side is a small lamp shade with ornate tassels.
The light clips out. We hear a banging hip hop beat and an
emcee preparing to rap, with a lot of ’uh-huh uh-huh &
yeahs’. DJ scratches music to a halt.
Amidst the dark Jaga takes stage center, and sits on the
zafu. He lights a stick of sage, the audience smells it. He
begins to play a Tibetan singing bowl and its large resonant
sound wafts through the crowd. Then Jaga clicks the light on
like he’s in his living room, grabs his guitar and peers 
outward, joyously.
Jaga is wearing bright red jeans, a pink shirt and a purple
bow-tie with a bowler cap. He is fully transformed from his
first appearance. 

Jaga plays one chord and then gets lost in thought.
Woah. I just had Deja Vu. Deja Vu’s
way cooler than the first time.
(pensively) When was that first
Sometimes when I meditate,I
think. (waits for joke to hit) I’ve
been doing stand up since I was
two. So now I prefer to sit. My
name’s Jaga. Jaga means awake. I
realized that in a dream. But I
don’t sleep anymore, cuz it gets
stuck in your eyes. Then you can’t
see so well...
Jaga lowers head and plays an interlude on the guitar.
It’s good to be here. And by here I
don't mean on a marble tilted at 
23.5 degrees spinning at 1,000 miles per hour
hurtling through time and space at 67,000 
miles per hour on an elliptic around a 
G-type star that’s been burning 
for 4.5 billion years, here. I just mean here.
Another interlude. Then back to finger picking.
This psychic walked up to me on the
boardwalk and she said, "You know,
you’re psychic." I said...
Jaga cocks an eyebrow.
Then why are you telling me?
Jaga feigns like he’s realizing his own joke.
Went for a hike the other day and I
told my friend I don’t believe in
gravity. He pushed me and I fell
down. Then he said, Ha! Still don’t
believe in gravity? I said, yeah
but now I don’t believe in pushing
Another interlude. Then back to finger picking.
You know you buy too many crystals
when you compare everything to the
price of solid amethyst. How much
are those jeans? (incredulous look)
That’s like 20 ounces of amethyst.
Jaga smiles at something offstage, gets super focused like a
compulsive shopper comparing prices at a department store.

I'm working on humility. Gettin' 
pretty good at it. Been working on
non-attachment too, it’s like ALL I
can think about. Was contemplating
impermanence. Didn’t last... 
I can't WAIT to start working on patience.
Another interlude. Heavier chords. Back to finger picking.
What is it with humanity and 
learning from trees? Tree 
of Knowledge, big one. Buddha parks it 
under a banyan tree and gains 
enlightenment. They asked Buddha 
WHAT he gained and he was like, 
"Nothing, but I lost ignorance, 
greed, desire, fear." That’s whats up. 
Not the ground beneath your feet 
like your stuck to the bottom upside
down in Australia... mate.
Jaga lowers head and plays an interlude on the guitar.
It’s hard to get work as a comic.
So I tried to get work as a hand
model. I'm both handed.But they said 
my hands were too big and course; 
so now I work as a glove model. Not 
just anybody can do it.

Jaga plays some heavier chords on the guitar then sings, "I
wanna be a glove model" a few times, back to finger picking.
You know those doors that say push,
but you can pull them too? Makes me
think, be more honest door. 

A beat.

Anytime you want the opposite of something
to happen just say what someone
says to you backwards. For example,
"Hey, come over here!"
Jaga lowers his head and drops his voice.
Ereh revo emoc yeh. (makes
weirded-out look) 

(Impersonates person watching Jaga)
Never mind! Stay over there! 

A beat.

Pots legal in two states. But 
they’re sooo far away. Plus I forget 
which ones.

Jaga plays interlude...
Let me ask you a question, if heart
chakras are like inner tubes and
pineal glands are like flashlights,
then why am I afraid to float down
rivers at night? 

A beat.

That joke kills at burning man.
Jaga raises his head and plays an interlude on the guitar. 
We really shouldn't say jokes kill.
Jokes don't kill. Jokes enliven.
But it just doesn't have the same ring.

"How'd he do?" "OH HE ENLIVENED." 

Smiles to himself. 

Do you think do to a miscommunication
people in Hawaii are ever like, 
"Why are you leaving? You just GOT here!" 

Jaga plays some loud guitar chords and sings refrain, 
but this time the lyrics are, "Hello Goodbye. Goodbye Hello. 
Turns this into an outro song.
Hello Goodbye Goodbye Hello / Hello
Goodbye Goodye Hello / Hello
Goodbye Goodbye Hello, Aloha. Aloha. 
I wanna be a glove model. I wanna
beeeeee a glove model. I wanna
beeee, a glove model... Aloha.
Jaga begins beatboxing, finishing the night with a wild 
freestyle that crescendos up to the stars and sweeps
through the seats in a flash. 

THREE LOUD KNOCKS ring out. Jaga stops playing, looks up, 

NEIGHBOR: Shut up! 
Jaga smiles at the audience and places his guitar down then
clicks off the living room lamp. 


Joseph Voelbel performing standup at Hollywood Improv, 2014.