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Poor Jud is Daid

Poor Jud is Daid.
Copyright 2012. Samuel M. Post.

Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class — please email me and ask permission. It will be granted, but I’d really like to know about it.

 

TEENAGE DAUGHTER, sits on the couch, texting with a friend. Enter DAD. He looks at her, stands around, steps into her space, and begins to sing ‘Poor Jud is Daid’ from Oklahoma. It’s a big voice.

DAD: (singing)
Poor Jud is Daid.
Poor Jud Fry is daid.
All gather round his coffin now and cry.

DAUGHTER: Dad!

DAD: What?

DAUGHTER: Stop that.

DAD: Stop what?

DAUGHTER: What? You know what.

DAD: What?

DAUGHTER: That singing!

DAD: I like singing.

DAUGHTER: That?

DAD: It’s from Oklahoma.

DAUGHTER: Dad, please — it’s awful.

DAD: It’s funny.

DAUGHTER: It’s not funny.

DAD: If you knew the show, you’d know how funny it is. It’s from Oklahoma! Very funny.

DAUGHTER: Poor Jud is Daid? You call being dead funny?

DAD: That’s why it’s funny. Nobody’s dead. It’s about a guy telling another guy how great it would be IF HE were dead. He wants him dead, so he’s trying to convince him that killing himself would be a good idea. He’d get sympathy. People would like him more. You know…

DAUGHTER: That’s not funny.

DAD: I was in the play. I sang that on stage. Everybody laughed. Believe me, it’s funny.
(singing)
Poor Judd is dead.

DAUGHTER: Dad!

DAD: Did I ever tell you about that show?

DAUGHTER: Yes.

DAD: Our high school had the best drama department in the state.

DAUGHTER: You told me.

DAD: (he sings)
Poor Jud is Daid.
Poor Jud Fry is daid.
All gather round his coffin now and cry.

DAUGHTER: Dad! Stop it!

DAD: You know — this is my house. A man should be able to sing in in his own house if he wants to.

DAUGHTER: I live here too. And I was sitting in here minding my own business. You’re at home more than I am. Can’t you sing when I’m not here?

DAD: Okay, okay.
(She goes back to texting. He watches her for a moment.)

DAD: That was such a great show.
(He sings — softly now.)
He had a heart of gold
And he wasn’t very old.
Oh why did such a feller have to die?

DAUGHTER: Dad! Shut the fuck up!

DAD: Don’t talk to me that way.

DAUGHTER: Don’t sing to me that way.

DAD: Singing is the joy of life.

DAUGHTER: Did I do something to you?

DAD: Do what?

DAUGHTER: I mean — did I do something to you? Something that makes you want to torture me? Are you trying to get me back for something?

DAD: You didn’t do anything.

DAUGHTER: I must have done something.

DAD: You didn’t.

DAUGHTER: You mean you are just this annoying? Just generally. For no reason?

DAD: I guess so.

DAUGHTER: What’s that like, Dad? Annoying the shit out of people all the time?

DAD: I don’t do that.

DAUGHTER: Why else would you walk in here and sing that song?

DAD: It’s a good song. It’s Rogers and Hammerstein. It represents a time in my life when I was young … and … you know, a pretty decent singer.

DAUGHTER: You were my age then, right?

DAD: Almost exactly.

So what about this time in my life?

DAD: You have a great life.

DAUGHTER: What about this moment, right now? I’m trying to have a peaceful time here and you bust in on me with that song! It’s irritating.

DAD: Okay.

DAUGHTER: So stop. Please.

DAD: All right.

DAUGHTER: I mean it.

DAD: I stopped.

DAUGHTER: It’s a stupid fucking song.

DAD: C’mon.

DAUGHTER: What?

DAD: Don’t talk like that.

DAUGHTER: What?

DAD: That language.

DAUGHTER: What’s the matter with it? It’s a stupid fucking song and your singing is bullshit. That’s the language I’ve got for that.

DAD: You can’t talk that way here.

DAUGHTER: Why — does that intrude on something?

DAD: Yeah!

DAUGHTER: See! See? That’s what your song does. It intrudes. I was in a good mood and now I’m sitting here thinking about a dead fucker named Jud.

DAD: Stop that!
(pause)

You need to see Oklahoma!

DAUGHTER: I don’t give two fucks about Oklahoma! It makes me wonder about you, always singing that death jingle. You’re obsessed with death.

DAD: I’m not obsessed with anything.

DAUGHTER: Then why do you want to sing that?

DAD: I was in that show.

DAUGHTER: It’s got other songs. Why do you have to sing Poor Jud is Daid?

DAD: It’s catchy.

DAUGHTER: It’s not catchy. Dad — you’ve got to come to grips with it. You’re stuck on death and that’s how it comes out.

DAD: I’m not stuck on death.

DAUGHTER: You are. Why are you so proud about giving money to that no-kill shelter.

DAD: It’s a no kill shelter!

DAUGHTER: So what?

DAD: That’s a great cause.

DAUGHTER: You gave them more than you did to our band uniforms.

DAD: I don’t think the school should spend that much on band uniforms.

DAUGHTER: It has nothing to do with uniforms. Do you know how embarrassed I was that you only gave ten dollars to my band? If somebody in the band were dying you’d probably give money. It’s death, Dad. You’re having issues with your mortality.

DAD: That’s crazy.

DAUGHTER: It’s true.

DAD: So what if it is?

DAUGHTER: It’s not good for you.

DAD: Everybody thinks about death. It’s natural.

DAUGHTER: No they don’t, Dad. I don’t.

DAD: People my age do.

DAUGHTER: No they don’t.

DAD: They do. Your just a girl.

DAUGHTER: Yeah, I am a girl. And girls die too. It doesn’t have anything to do with age. You’re just scared, so you deal with death like it’s a joke. Or like you can make it go away. But it doesn’t make it go away.

DAD: It never goes away.

DAUGHTER: Death doesn’t. But you don’t have to be afraid of it.

DAD: You don’t know. You’re too young.

DAUGHTER: That has nothing to do with it. If you’re afraid of dying, then you’re afraid. Just get it, Dad. You’re gonna die.

(She stands up and sings.)
Poor Jud is Daid.
(speaking)
I mean, you know, when you sing that, it’s like it comes from you — really, Dad — like it comes from your heart. Like you wrote the song. It’s not just something you sing. It’s like… it’s you.

DAD: Spare me the psychology.

DAUGHTER: No — I’m tired of this. It’s like this broken record that’s become who you are, Dad. Do you get that? You can’t resist that song because it’s like it expresses your existence in the world. And, I mean. You’re my Dad. Deep down, I care about you and all. It’s upsetting.

DAD: That’s crazy.

DAUGHTER: Yeah, it is. When did you get hooked on death, Dad?

DAD: I’m not hooked on death.

DAUGHTER: You totally are! Who’s the first person that died on you?

DAD: Died on me?

DAUGHTER: Yeah — somebody died on you.

DAD: Nobody died on me.

DAUGHTER: Somebody did. When you were a little kid.

DAD: A lot of dogs died.

DAUGHTER: I mean a person! Somebody died and it was a big problem. Otherwise you wouldn’t have that song in your head all the time. If you had had a surrey with a fringe on top you’d be singing that.

DAD: I guess my grandmother died when I was eight.

DAUGHTER: That’s it! And you’ve had this gigantic fear ever since. Where were you when you found out she died?

DAD: My parents didn’t even tell me. They went on this trip for a for a week.

DAUGHTER: You missed the whole thing.

DAD: Well, I remember when they left on that trip, the way they were packing, not saying anything about where they were going.

DAUGHTER: Nobody said anything.

DAD: Not really.

DAUGHTER: They could have at least told you where they were going.

DAD: They could have.

DAUGHTER: So get over it, Dad. They didn’t tell you.

DAD: No they didn’t.

DAUGHTER: They could have sung a song
(she sings)
Poor Grandma is dead.
We will tramp upon her head.
DAUGHTER AND DAD: (they sing together)
All gather round her coffin now and cry.

(pause)

DAUGHTER: (speaking)
I’ve seen Oklahoma.

DAD: No you haven’t.

DAUGHTER: I’ve seen the movie a couple of times. Curly has plenty of other numbers.

DAD: I guess he does.

DAUGHTER: (singing)
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow

DAD: (singing)
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow

DAUGHTER AND DAD: (singing together)
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye,
An’ it looks like its climbin’ clear up to the sky.

End of play

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