By: Lisa Karon Richardson
This is America's Next Favorite Author!!
[Cue Applause] APPLAUSE
Jovial and Slightly Smarmy Host: Good Evening and welcome back to America’s Next Favorite Author! I’m your host, Brian Oceanwave.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Tonight we pit three “Classic” authors against one another: Miss Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Samuel Langhorne Clemens; that’d be Mr. Mark Twain to most of us. Let’s give our contestants a hand.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: In case you’re just tuning in, here’s the way it works. These authors will provide us with the answers to a few simple questions, and then You America, will decide—America’s Next Favorite Author.
Let’s start with you Miss Austen.
JANE AUSTEN: (smiling grimly and offering a small curtsey, but looking off stage as if trying to find a way of escape.) You are too kind.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Here we go. Can you tell us about your writing credits? (Thrusts microphone in Jane’s face.)
JANE AUSTEN: (Pulls back from the microphone.) Mr. Oceanwave is this entirely necessary?
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Why, yes. Yes it is!
JANE AUSTEN: Oh, very well. I wrote several novels.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Would those be fictional novels?
JANE AUSTEN: (Through gritted teeth) Is there any other kind?
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: How many novels did you write?
JANE AUSTEN: Seven
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Which is the most popular?
JANE AUSTEN:I suppose that would be Pride and Prejudice. My Darcy has set hearts aflutter since his creation. In fact, the good Lord created dear Mr. Firth simply to play the role. It was a personal favor to me, and well, all women.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Is it true that you dabbled in… (glances side-to-side and lowers voice) self-publishing?
JANE AUSTEN: Yes. I did self-publish my first novel after I sold the rights to a publisher who did not follow through on putting them in print.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Ooh, now that could be damaging. We all know how poorly edited self-published novels are. And now can you tell our audience why you deserve to be America’s Next Favorite Author?
JANE AUSTEN: Well, I did single-handedly invent the romance genre, which continues to outsell every other genre by leaps and bounds. I have a fan base of millions and it keeps growing even though my books are almost two hundred years old. All of my books have been turned into movies numerous times—did I mention Mr. Firth—and finally have you seen the number of memes? Some… enterprising soul has even managed to add zombies and sea monsters to my poor stories. (She shudders.) While I rolled in my grave at the horror, a part of me wonders if there may not be something to it. After all I myself have been dead for nearly two centuries, and yet here we stand chatting.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: (Smile falters for the first time. Then puts a hand on her back and nudges her a step toward the audience.) There you have it folks, Miss Jane Austen in her own words. And now we move on to contestant number two, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: I understand that you created one of fiction’s most memorable icons.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: Indeed. People have quite taken to my consulting detective, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Though I did write other things—
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Yes, I’m sure you did. Now about Holmes, did you ever give any thought to the fact that your creation might encourage drug use in America’s youth?
(One or two boos and catcalls from the crowd)
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: Why, no. No, I never did. I never meant to do any harm. Dr. Watson is always very anti-drug, you’ll notice.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: (purses lips) Hmm. And for a moment let us turn our discussion to your personal life. I understand that you believe in fairies.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: Oh, yes. I’ve seen pictures and everything. Look you can see for yourself. (He points up.) I’ve never seen them so bright and immediate before.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Sir Arthur, those are the spotlights.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: I see. Well, that hardly proves that fairies don’t exist does it?
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: And now, sir, can you tell us why you deserve to be America’s Next Favorite Author?
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: Certainly. Certainly. (Looks up again.) It’s just that I created a whole new standard for mysteries. Private Investigators came into their own because of me. And I did it without having to pay for someone else to publish it for me. (Sniffs at Miss Austen.) My stories have been made into movies, and people have made just as many liberties with my characters, making innumerable pastiches. Some of which are quite good. Oh, and computer games. I don’t believe there was ever a computer game based on either of my competitor’s characters. Everyone recognizes the deerstalker hat and pipe.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: An excellent point. (Turns to the crowd.) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, everyone!
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: And now for our final contestant, Mr. Mark Twain.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Mr. Twain, I understand that you are American and your books actually feature American characters.
(Hoots and cheers from the crowd)
MARK TWAIN: My books have human characters… except of course when they’re frogs. And did I hear you right, are you lumping Huck and Tom in with the classics?
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: That’s right Mr. Twain. Your books are considered some of the finest classics around.
MARK TWAIN: (Shaking his head, and puffing on a cigar.) A classic is a book people praise and don’t read. I think I’d like to be moved to a different category.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: (Runs a finger under his collar.) Well, Mr. Twain, what if we rename the category Timeless?
MARK TWAIN: (Nods) Mr. Oceanwave, I think you’re a classic.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Thanks. Now is it true that you invested in new inventions.
MARK TWAIN: Yep, lost my shirt backing new inventions, but I don’t regret it a whit.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: And you were a member of the Psychical Society?
MARK TWAIN: Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Mr. Twain, we’re almost out of time. Can you tell us why you should be America’s next Favorite Author?
MARK TWAIN: It usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech, but I like to think my books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Fortunately everybody drinks water.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Well, that was certainly... concise. There you have it, folks. Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain. He’s one of a kind.
MARK TWAIN: (Taps the host’s shoulder.) You do realize that twain means two, right?
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: (fake laugh) All right then, America. Their fates rest in your hands. Who will be America’s next Favorite Author?!! Call in to our toll free number 1-888-ANFA to let your voice be heard. And don’t forget to tune in next week when we’ll pit William Shakespeare against Dashiell Hammett and Willa Cather!
Okay so as you may have guessed, I couldn’t decide on a favorite author. It was just too wrenching, as if I were making a lifelong commitment that never the two would sunder. I’d much rather hear from you. Who are your favorite authors? I know I’m forgetting some. Who would be great in a head-to-head competition for the title? And more importantly how do you decide? What criteria elevate an author to a ‘favorite?’
Disclaimer: this post was supposed to be funny. It was not meant to be a slam on self-pubbed authors, or dead authors, smarmy game show hosts, Mr. Firth, or frogs.
Finally, apropos of nothing, I had to share this video with you all. It's just too good to keep to myself.