Jon Etter

Writer, Teacher, Resident of the October Country

Gorillas fighting

So Alamo Basement billed itself as, among other things, “Gorilla Theater.” Why? Because we were absurdists and because “Guerrilla Theater” usually pays exactly squat and has a much higher chance of causing someone to punch you in the face than most other forms of theater. “Gorilla Theater,” it turns out, also pays squat, but nobody’s glasses or nose ever got broken, so there was that.

What follows is an introductory sketch I wrote that ended up kicking off two shows. It was fairly well-received, but both times I had trouble getting a good chant going, so we retired it after its second performance. And I say “I” because I once again fulfilled my role as “loud-mouthed guy out in the audience.” I should actually credit Michael J. Sherfy, my friend and college roommate, as co-writer on this sketch because it was inspired by us goofing on one of our R.A.s and his really crappy guerrilla theater troupe that we were more or less forced to watched. Out of fairness, I’m willing to split the profits on the skit with him. As I never got paid for it and had to drive to both shows it was performed in, feel free to send me $7.83 to cover half the gas money when you get the chance, Mike.

We Want Gorilla Theatre!


Mike Q. Hanlon–genial MC.

Guy–a disgruntled audience member.

Guerrilla Leader–anti-American terrorist.

Card person–holds location card.

Assorted guerillas.

Assorted gorillas.


Scene: The theater itself at the beginning of the performance. Mike does his usually greeting, explaining that Alamo Basement is “gorilla theatre,” etc. At some point, he is interrupted:

GUY: (sitting in audience) Hey, wait a minute! Wait just a minute here!

MIKE: Is there a problem?

GUY: You bet there’s a problem! This is supposed to be GORILLA THEATER!

MIKE: Yeah, that’s what this is.

GUY: Uh-uh! It most certainly is not!

MIKE: What do you mean?

GUY: You’re in charge of this troupe, right?

MIKE: Yeah…

GUY: And all those guys in black outfits are in it?

MIKE: Yes…that’s the cast…

GUY: You guys aren’t gorillas.

MIKE: What?

GUY: You guys aren’t gorillas. Not even close. You’re just a bunch of grad students and unemployed actors with too much time on your hands!


GUY: I didn’t pay to see a bunch of shiftless twenty-somethings screw around for an hour and a half. I paid to see GORILLA THEATER, and that’s what I want to see!

MIKE: I think you’ve misunderstood…

GUY: We want gorillas! We want gorillas! We want gorillas! (Encourages audience to chant along.)

MIKE: But…(chant continues. Guerilla Leader and assorted guerrillas wearing bandanas and mirrored sunglasses, chomping on stubs of cigars and carrying guns run in, hit Guy in back of head with sap, put a cloth bag over Guy’s head, and carry him off. Card person enters.)

CARD PERSON: Somewhere else in the world!

(Guerrillas carry Guy in, set him down in a chair, and take bag off his head.)

GUERRILLA LEADER: All right, Yankee Imperialist Dog! We demand that your country immediately leave our soil never to return again or we’ll kill you as a sign of our strength and defiance!


GUERRILLA LEADER: You wanted guerrillas? Well, you got ‘em!


GUY: No, no, no! I didn’t want GER-illas–I wanted GO-rillas!

(Confusion on part of guerrillas.)

GUY: You know–MONKEYS?!?

GUERILLAS: Oh! Go-rillas! (general mummering of understanding).


GUY: That’s quite all right.

(Guerilla Leader hits him in back of head with sap, puts bag back on him, and guerillas carry him off stage.)

CARD PERSON: Somewhere in Wisconsin!

(Guerrillas carry Guy back to his seat and take bag off his head.)

GUERRILLA LEADER: …I really can’t apologize enough. This is just so embarassing…

GUY: Don’t beat yourself up about it. Could happen to anyone.

GL: That’s very kind of you to say. (hugs him) You take care!

GUY: You too. (Guerrillas exit. Mike comes back out.)

MIKE: Oh my god! Are you all right, sir?

GUY: I will be as soon as I see some gorillas.

MIKE: But I’ve been trying to tell you…

GUY: We want gorillas! We want gorillas! (encourages crowd)

MIKE: But…

GUY: We want gorillas, etc.

(Troupe members come out acting like monkeys, grab Guy, and carry him off.)

GUY: Oh yeah! That’s the stuff!

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