God, Jesus, and Champ on the Tonight Show
Jay Leno: (to his guests) God, Jesus, Champ, welcome to the show, great to have you here! (turns to audience and extends hand toward guests) Ladies and gentlemen, God, Jesus, and Champ! (extended applause, whistles) Well! Gosh! (holds up hands to quiet audience) Where to start? Jesus, some are saying that you're making a comeback. Is this it? Are you back to join us for a while?
Jesus: (affably) Well, I'm here, right? I guess you could say I'm back. (looks at audience and puts two thumbs up - cheers, applause, whistles).
Jay: (leaning over his desk, lowers his voice) So why here? Why us?
I mean, why the Tonight Show, if I'm not being too personal?
Jesus: (relaxing, making himself more comfortable on the couch) Well, it came down to Letterman, Oprah, or you. We decided you'd keep it light. Dad here likes to laugh, and Champ thought it was a good idea. He said the ratings were better than that Sea of Galilee gig. (laughter, whistles - Gerry Etkins picks up on the audience response and plays a run of chords on the keyboard).
Jay: That's a point. I guess it would be hard to accomodate a crowd of 23 million. That would be a lot of loaves and fishes! (laughter, but God and Champ look displeased). But, I mean, seriously, I thought you would have chosen the U.N. or something like that - you know, an international forum maybe.
God: (looking at Jesus who was about to reply, and holding up his hand) No, most of that crowd don't believe in us. They're into Buddha, Vishnu, statues of blue elephants and stuff like that. No, most of this audience believes in us, right? The one true God? (Champ jumps off the couch and gestures to the audience, rotating his hands - enthusiastic applause, whistles - Vicki Randle executes some inspired drumming and ends with a crash of cymbals).
Jay: (motioning for the audience to quiet down) So, you're back! That's the main thing! (leans forward and lowers his voice again) I know everyone's wondering this, so I hope you don't mind my asking . . . what took you so long? I mean, things have been quite a mess down here.
God: (stopping Jesus again with a gesture) He's been recuperating.
Jay: (suddenly focuses on Champ) Senator Champ! Nice to have you back! Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Champ, the White House religious counselor! (camera on Kevin Eubanks conducting the band on a spirited fanfare ending with a trumpet blare from Kyle Palmer that sounds like an elephant).
Jay: (scolding Kevin) Cut it out! Let's show a little respect here! OK, so Jesus, what a time to come back! Going to give the Democrats a hand are you? Help clean up the mess? (laughter, applause, whistles - Kyle does another elephant on the trumpet).
Jesus: (leaning back, one arm behind God, the other behind Champ - smiles at at Jay's banter and the band's shenanigans) No, we'll let Caesar clean up his own mess. We have other priorities.
Jay: OK, what about Israel and Palestine? Going to let them settle it themselves? You were backstage - did you hear my monologue? That one about . . .
Jesus: (holding up his hand) Yea, I heard it. You're a funny man, Jay. Thing is, there's always going to be mayhem until the Jews forget they're Jews, and the Palestinians forget they're Palestinians.
Jay: And become Christians, right?
Jesus: No, no. I mean, just drop their religious conditioning and become kind human beings. Put an end to this nonsense once and for all. Put an end to doing evil things and calling them good things.
Jay: (sensing that the audience is losing interest) Say! Any chance you could do some miracles for us? Show all the atheists and skeptics out there a thing or two? (leans forward and holds his lower back and groans) I've got this lumbago. Could you do something for it? Should only take you a minute.
Jesus: No! I'm fed up with that miracle hokum! Why are you asking me about your lumbago just when I started talking about world peace? (single guffaw from audience inspires Matt Finders to execute a donkey laugh on the trombone, followed by a cymbal crash from Randle. Jesus looks annoyed at the disturbance). Go to a chiropractor with your lumbago! Quit eating junk food and tossing down highballs! Geez. Want a miracle? Look at a mouse! Explain a mouse! Walt Whitman had it right: "I believe a blade of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars!"
Champ: (low voice to Jesus) Hey, let's not quote queer poets. Remember who our audience is here.
Jesus: Yea? Well I could have used a guy like Walt Whitman back there in Judea, instead of that turkey Judas! And Thoreau! Thoreau had his feet on the ground. He could spot hokum a mile away!
Jay: (still holding his back and pretending to be hurt) Sorry, don't get excited. It was just a thought. So, you don't want everyone to become Christians? I thought that was the whole point! Champ, didn't you say that Jesus was going to separate the sheep from the goats, and all us Christians were going to heaven?
Champ: It's right here in the Bible. This is just a misunderstanding. Jesus isn't used to modern English and talk-show banter, right Jees? He's not used to our 5-second attention spans.
Jesus: Why did we start talking about lumbago right when I mentioned dropping all the religious nonsense and becoming kind-hearted human beings? Why are you flipping Bible pages at me? Any idiot can see that there's going to be mayhem as long as there's bigotry! As long as one bunch thinks they're Dad's favorites - crimeny! I've had it up to here with that 'chosen people' bunko! I'm just telling you to forget all your stupid 'isms' and become decent human beings for a change!
God: Take it easy, son, Let's not oversimplify things. They need to feel saved. They don't like the idea of new beginnings. They like the idea of their old self continuing.
Jesus: Hey, I'm not going to get nailed again! They either get it right this time or I'm out of here! They have to shrug off all these stupid religious ideas and become compassionate human beings or they can all just go to . . .
God: Take it easy! Just chill! I can't keep bailing you out of these jams you get yourself into!
Jesus: Oh, right, uh-huh. Bail me out? (turns to audience and holds a palm toward God) Bails me out, right? Remember that? (audience hoots approval of Jesus' indignation. Ralph Moore on the saxophone does a few quick bars from, 'Stand By Me').
God: Look, just deal with this guy's lumbago and put in a few words about joining the human race. This joint is full of Christians for God's sake. Do you want to start a riot? Do you want to end up in Guantanamo with a sack on your head?
Jay: (pleased that he's stirred up some entertaining controversy) Fellahs, fellahs! We've got to take a break here! (turns to camera, clutching his lower back and wincing with mock pain) Be right back! (before camera cuts to commercial, TV audience sees God and Jesus arguing while Champ flips pages of his Bible and tries to show it to them. Kevin is belting out a jazzy rendition of a Slipknot tune, the rest of the band joining in. Applause and whistles as camera cuts to Toyota pickup racing along the new wall between Israel and Palestine, dodging around oncoming tanks and plunging through the dust of mortar explosions).