Friday, February 11, 2011

Caffeinated Inc. Episode 03: A Great Coffee Experience

Caffeinated Inc. (pronounced fully - "Caffeinated Incorporated") was the Gathering's bi-weekly sitcom in the first two years of our existence. To that end, these scripts predate the Year of the Rabbit I'm celebrating here, but are indicative of the sort of approaches the Gathering took toward expressing the Christian faith. They also formed the basis for my blogged novel, Magik Beans. I was the primary writer, but the characters and sometimes dialogue took shape in a improv-to-script approach I shared with co-stars Blaine Kehl and Marcia Hamm.  I'll be posting all of our initial seven episodes in subsequent updates.

(CARL and JASMINE are onstage, discussing something quite heatedly.)

CARL:  I don’t want you to redecorate the coffee shop!

JASMINE:  I’m not going to redecorate, I’m going to do a new color scheme.

CARL:  Well I don’t want a new color scheme either.  I like the place just the way it is!

JASMINE:  You mean really tacky 80s?  It’s all wrong. . . it’s just all wrong.

CARL:  There’s nothing wrong with it.  I’ll have you know we have a very strong base of clientele. . .

JASMINE:  So does the Thunderdome, it doesn’t make it aesthetically pleasing.

CARL:  Coffee shops don’t have to be aesthetically pleasing!  They just have to serve coffee.

JASMINE:  That’s what you think.  It’s a known fact that the entire experience is why people go out for food.  If they just wanted coffee, they could stay home and brew a pot!  Customer service is one of the first keys. . .

CARL:  Which we do very well at thank you.

NICKY:  Not so much.  I’m still waiting on that large coffee.

CARL:  Right.  What was it again?

NICKY:  The Vanilla Hazelnut.

CARL:  You know Nick, for a kid on the street, you sure have refined tastes.

NICK:  Only where I can afford to.

(CARL finishes with the coffee and hands it to Nicky.)

CARL:  Then today its on the house.

NICK:  Thanks Carl.

(NICK goes to a table and reads a comic book.)

JASMINE:  As I was saying, customer service. . . and then they want a pleasant atmosphere.

CARL:  You’re trying to tell me that people want a nice atmosphere over good food? 

JASMINE:  Earl’s has made millions doing it.

CARL: Hey, I like Earl’s.  They’re overpriced I’ll admit, but. . . anyway, I can’t believe that people would take atmosphere over good food!

JASMINE:  All the franchises are built on that premise Carl.  Give people a nice environment and they’ll enjoy the food a lot more.  You see, the bottom line is that people don’t go out to actually eat.  They go out to socialize.

CARL:  I go out to actually eat!

JASMINE:  And its starting to show.  (CARL gives an indignant look)  Kidding!  But its true.  Think about the majority of people who come in here.  Do any of them order six to seven coffees in say, less than an hour?

(ALAN enters.)

CARL: Some of them do.

ALAN:  Salutations and perculations!  I have arrived at the Frisky Goat. (He digs in a side pouch and produces artwork.)  Check it out!  I did up some designs for the sign out front.  (Holds up some artwork which displays a poorly drawn goat dancing with coffee in his hand)

JASMINE:  What is that supposed to be?

ALAN:  It’s a frisky goat!  Hence the name of the shop (glares at CARL)

CARL:  Get over it Alan.  I’m not calling the store the Frisky Goat, and that’s all there is to it.

ALAN:  Well, perhaps you will call it Caffeinated Infatuated, but in the hearts and minds of the people, it will forever be the Frisky Goat.

CARL: Whatever.  The usual?

ALAN:  Unless you’ve got some of that Ginseng tea, yes.  How are you doing Jasmine? 

JASMINE: Not bad.  I was just talking to Carl here about redoing the inside of the coffee shop, you know to make it a more pleasing coffee experience.

ALAN:  “Coffee experience.”  I like that – sort of a Jimi Hendrix thing, except with Caffeine.  Makes it sound like having a cup of Joe is a mystical experience.

CARL:  For you, everything is a mystical experience.  And we’re not redecorating.  We’re not even talking about it anymore. 

JASMINE:  With your attitude, its a wonder anyone comes in here at all.

ALAN:  That’s what I keep telling him. 

JASMINE:  Let’s see what you think about this.  I was saying to Carl that the reason people go out for food, or in this case coffee, is not simply because the coffee tastes great, but because they love the atmosphere of the establishment.  And that’s why he should take very seriously, my recommendation to redecorate the shop.

ALAN:  Are you familiar with Elsa Schiaparelli, the Italian fashion designer?

JASMINE:  No, I don’t think I am.

CARL:  Here we go. . .

ALAN:  Well, she said “Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale.”

JASMINE:  (To Carl) See!  Even he thinks so.

CARL:  You’re assuming I care what Alan thinks…

ALAN:  So far, my “coffee experience” here at the Frisky Goat has been below my expectations.

CARL:  It’s Caffienated Inc.!  And I’m not here to give you a delightful “coffee experience!”

ALAN:  I can see that.

CARL:  I’m here to serve you coffee!

JASMINE:  Ah, but you’re wrong.  You’re giving him a ‘coffee experience’ whether you want to or not.  We’re social beings.  You have to interact with him socially to give him coffee.

CARL:  Alright alright.  Let’s see here. . . (Goes rooting through CD’s behind the counter, takes one out and then places it in the little CD player on the counter.  He presses play, and Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” comes on.  CARL does a ballet style mime to pouring ALAN’s coffee, then comes out from behind the coffee bar and gives it to him.)

ALAN:  I prefer Chopin myself, but the Vivaldi’s a nice touch.

CARL:  You’re making me tremulous.

JASMINE:  A little excessive, don’t you think?  All I’m telling you is that if you make your mission statement to give people a wonderful environment to meet each other in, you’re going to improve your business.

CARL:  I’ll improve my business by moving it to the West Edmonton Mall

JASMINE:  You’ll change the view out your front window, but you won’t improve your business.  Why won’t you let me help you?

CARL:  I don’t need help.  I’ve got everything under control.  That’s why Peter left me the shop, because I’m fully capable of doing this job.

JASMINE:  The little coffee shop that could, eh?  Are you this alone in everything you do?

CARL:  I’m not alone!  I have lots of friends.

JASMINE:  Yeah, but do you let them help you out? 

CARL:  What are you, my shrink?  Get off my back.  I just want some sign designs. 

JASMINE:  I’ll make you a deal.  I’ll do the interior design and decorating here, or wherever you decide to put your shop, and I’ll do it for free.

CARL: I don’t care if you pay me to do it.  I don’t want things changed around here. 

JASMINE:  What is it with you?  You’re all locked up, don’t want anybody’s help, can do it all yourself, isn’t that right?

CARL:  Yeah, that’s right.  Now go analyze somebody else.  I’ll be in touch about the sign.


CARL:  Fine.

JASMINE: Good.  (she exits, obviously displeased. Carl stands for a moment, then walks into the back of the shop. ALAN looks around for a moment, realizing he's more or less by himself.)

ALAN:  'No man is an island, entire unto itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.  If a clod is washed away by the sea, Europe is the lesser, as well as if a promontry were, as well as if manor of thy friends, or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: It tolls for thee.’  

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