Monday, January 10, 2011

The Train Wreck

The following is an excerpt from a book, written by comedian Bob Newhart, entitled I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This. Enjoy:

Ed and I rooted through the agency's sound-effects records used for television commercials. We found a nice recording of a train crash. Using the train crash as the blow-off, or sound effect, we worked backward and wrote a routine. The entire story led up to this climactic sound effect, such as Ed playing his typical straight-man interviewer and me as Gasper Hollingsferry, the head train-switcher and dispatcher at the Central Shipping Yard.

It went a little bit like this:

Ed: "Say, I've noticed that there's a temendous amount of buttons and panels, and, of course, as I look out here through the windows and into the yard, I see these miles and miles of track crisscrossing each other, how do you keep track of all of them, Mr. Hollingsferry?

Bob: "Well, it's mostly about trial and error. I took me about four weeks to learn. After the first week, you find you make quite a few mistakes. Then the second week it's less, and the third week it's less, and by the end of the fourth week, you got the yards down pretty well."

Ed: "It seems to me an awfully dangerous way to go about teaching a switchman his business. You don't have any supervisors? You don't have any textbooks?

Bob: "Well, we tried textbooks. We used both methods. It's sort of expensive, but when you see the cars strewn all over the yard like that, it makes quite an impression and you very seldom will switch them onto that track again. We find it's the best method."

Ed: "That certain is interesting."

Bob: (Aside to Ed's crew) "Uh, I thought I told you guys you're gonna have to keep your wires and cords off the tracks. We've got trains coming through here daily--"

Ed: "Well, speaking of trains, sir, I'm sorry to interrupt, but down here on the main track it looks to me as if those two trains are going to crash."

Bob: "Yeah....Those two'll crash."

Ed: "You say those two are going to crash. Aren't you going to do anything about it?"

Bob: "No, I never got a D-07 on those trains."

Ed: "A D-07, sir?"

Bob: "That's a form we have whenever they find a mistake and we switch a train onto the wrong track, as these two obviously are. We're supposed to get a D-07. I can't touch these levers until I get a D-07."

Ed: "Well, sir, you mean to say that you'll sit here without using the handbrake to stop these two trains from crashing?"

Bob: "It's not my fault. It's someone in the main office."

Ed: "I fully realize that, sir....So you mean to say you are going to sit here and do absolutely nothing?"

Bob: "If we were to do away with the D-07, as you're obviously suggesting, we'd have nothing but plain chaos..."

(A loud crash is heard)

Ed: "Well, thank you very much, Mr. Hollingsferry. We now take you back to your announcer."

And the routine fades out to the sound of flames crackling and chaos.


JD said...

Wow! That is awesome and horrible and funny all at the same time!

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