Here are five sketches based on an exercise called The Non-Apology by Thomas Fox Averill, from the book Now Write! edited by Sherry Ellis. It’s meant as a dialogue exercise, but I took liberties. Sorry Tom, I have a pathological inability to follow directions from authority figures. If you weren’t so goddamn authoritarian…
I—I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry.
Don’t cry. Please.
Please, stop crying. Stop. I—I feel so helpless when you’re like this. What can I do? Can I do anything?
Look, stop crying. Yes it was a sham marriage. But think of it this way: you’re the star of the nation’s hottest reality TV show!
No, the kids aren’t a sham. I love them as much as you, believe me.
No, I’ll be keeping them. Well, the network will anyway. You know my golfing buddy, Elmore? Yeah, he’s our executive producer. He’ll get custody.
Shh…there, there. For what it’s worth, his real name is really Elmore, though.
Look, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know. My bad. But it’s only a game. And you’re a shitty pitcher. And besides, what’s a pennant anyway. It’s just a flag. It’s dumb. I can get you a flag. I’ll do better next time. But seriously, you should think about the minors, you’d do really well there.
Boss: Did you download porn at work?
Me: Yeah, sorry, but I wasn’t technically working.
Boss: So you did download it?
Me: Define ‘it.’
Me: Ah yes, well. Yes. But it was part of a project. For a client.
Boss: What client had you downloading porn on your work computer?
Me: [Mumbles name of a very important client]
Boss: [Important Client’s Name] asked you to do this?
Me: They didn’t ask.
Boss: They didn’t—
Me: I took initiative.
Boss: This—this is a serious offense. We could terminate you. What were you thinking?
Me: What was I thinking? Hm, I guess stuff like, “Oh man, look at the size of that woman’s marshmallows,” and “How does she not choke?” That’s about it. Oh, and I do remember thinking, “Where do they get the horse from?” But I googled it and got an answer. Schenectady.
Boss: Is this a joke to you?
Me: No, ma’am. I take my work very seriously. Especially if it’s for a client.
Boss: Porn is NOT work. What about it is work to you?
Me: The masturbation, ma’am. It’s kind of boring, to be honest.
Me: I know, you wouldn’t think, right?
Boss: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
Me: What? No, I mean it. And the repetitive stress—
Boss: YOU WERE JERKING OFF AT WORK! IN FRONT OF COWORKERS!!?
Me: No, ma’am. I was very discreet.
Boss: That’s not what I mean and you know it. I meant you were jerking off in your open cubicle. You’re coworkers could have seen you! That’s sexual harassment on SO many levels.
Me: I swear, no one saw me. No one was watching. Swear on my mother’s grave. If she were dead.
Boss: That’s not—you can’t—how can you know they didn’t see you?
Me: I told them not to look.
Me: I leaned over the walls of my cube and said to each coworker on either side of me “Hey, I need you to not watch me for a few minutes, OK?” And then I made them look through the glory holes I cut just so they knew what I was talking about. I think they got it.
Boss: That’s it. You are SO fired. Get out. Pack your belongings. You’re out of here.
Me: Look, they didn’t watch. Why would they? This is [NAME OF COMPANY]. Everyone respects each other.
Me: You really should watch that tone. It’s attitude like that, that makes people not want to work here.
Boss: GET OUT!!!
Me: Okay, okay, I’m out of here. Don’t get your boobs in a knot. Jesus. [LEAVES OFFICE] Ungrateful ho. And to think I was just about to suggest having sex on her desk, like on that one website.
Boss: [ANSWERING PHONE IN HER OFFICE] Yes, what is it!? [PAUSE] No, I just fired him. [PAUSE] No, just put them through to me. [PAUSE] Hello, [Important Client’s Name], how are you today? It’s SO good to hear from you! What can I do for you? [PAUSE] Uh-huh… [PAUSE] Uhhhh….. [PAUSE] Wait, are you— [PAUSE] You had him—? [PAUSE] [PAUSE] [PAUSE] [PAUSE] Yes, yes of course. I understand. [PAUSE] No, he’s here. [PAUSE] I’ll do that. [PAUSE] Yes, ma’am. [PAUSE] I’ll go get him right now. We’ll do as you asked. [PAUSE] Yes, with whipped cream and candle wax, got it.
Me: [LATER] That was awesome. [PHONE RINGS]
Boss: One sec. I mean sex. [PICKING UP] Yes? [PAUSE] Oh, hello again! [PAUSE] [LOOKS AT ME] [PAUSE] [PAUSE] —Come again?
NAZIS APOLOGIZE TO JEWS, GAYS, GYPSIES, BLACKS ON DAYTIME TALK SHOW!
I’m sorry, we feel very badly about this. We were jealous, sure, of course. No doubt about it, we take full responsibility. No excuse for that. Jealousy is a terrible thing to live with. It hurt us. But you were so jolly. Really, you shouldn’t have rubbed our noses in it. That’s what caused it. You shouldn’t have gotten so uppity. Here you are, a happy-go-lucky race, going about your business, making babies, working at your jobs, celebrating life, participating in community activities. And here we were all the while, afflicted with red-faced jealousy. It’s kind of silly, really. But why should you have all the fun. That’s all we’re saying. So you see, you can understand where we were coming from. So yeah, if a nutty little guy with a mustache comes along and tells us it’s okay to be jealous, practically makes a religion out of it, well, duh! Of course we’ll listen. That’s what we do. We’re good listeners. What choice do we have? It’s not like we all get to join your little party. You should try being good listeners sometime. It’s hard work. It takes a nation. So anyway, like we were saying. It’s not really our fault, when you look at it. We’re not saying it was your fault, no. Ha, that would be presumptuous, wouldn’t it? Telling you it was your fault we killed all your people? Ha, good one. No, really, the truth of the matter is, you couldn’t help it. You’re just jolly by nature. And you know how it goes, when jealous meets jolly, ka-BLOOEY! And besides, we make better chocolate cake than you. Wanna hug it out?
CHAIR, CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON GULF OIL RIG DISASTER: This is the worst man-made disaster in American history. Thousands of livelihoods torn apart. Tens of thousands of animals killed. Millions of acres of delicate habitat destroyed. And millions of gallons of oil still gushing into the Gulf as we speak with no end in sight. Have you no remorse?
REPRESENTATIVE OF BRITISH PETROLEUM: Oh for sure. We’ve got lots of remorse. This totally sucks. We’re devastated here at BP. Our subsidiaries are bummed, too. And, you know? Such a dumb screw-up, too! It’s like, hey, we’ve got this great steel straw to the bottom of the ocean just sucking out money, but all it takes is one guy, let’s call him Bob Spoodlemeyer in engineering, to use metric instead of English and there you have it: worldwide oil catastrophe. If we didn’t have the metric system—or Bob Spoodlemeyer—none of this ever would have happened. And, well, you can’t realistically get rid of the metric system. So, Mister Chairman, we humbly propose sending Bob to jail for, like, life or something. Can you do that? Either that or get rid of metric. You choose.