Short Fiction: The Audition

“And this final one is a favourite of mine. I call it Swans at Sunset. You’ll notice the warm hues on the water—I wanted to emphasise those, create a dynamic. The brush strokes here, the trees—at first I intended to come back and smooth these out, but as the painting took shape I decided to leave them as they are, with that raw, bold quality. The swans were actually white, but for this piece I made them black. Either way would have its pros and cons. I just felt to have them dark would bring out a, well, I suppose, a more sombre side. They almost… take on the shadows of the trees, facing into them, swimming irresistibly toward the bleak unknown. So here, where we might expect the juxtaposition of light and shade, we instead see a fateful blending, and it is actually on the water around the swans that the light is found. The sun, absent from the scene, shines on the pond, forming a guiding aura, a protective cradle, to uphold these creatures drifting, it would seem, without hope. And the way I’ve done the clouds here was a bit of an experiment—you can probably guess I had been studying some of Monet’s work at the time. Anyway, that’s pretty much it. I’ve tried to show both my technique and my range, and, as you can tell, I’m keen to get my work out there. So… what do you think?”

“Very impressive. Those are some great paintings. You have a lot of enthusiasm, and I think you have real talent. The thing is, though, we are looking for impressionists in the sense of comedians who do impersonations. You know, of celebrities. We’re not looking for painters—good though your work may be. I thought that would have been clear, as this is a comedy club, but I can see now how our advertisement could be misinterpreted. That’s our fault, of course. But, uh, still—we won’t be needing any paintings, just some humorous lampooning of movie stars, singers, television personalities—you know what I mean.”

“I have some more paintings at home if you—”

“No, no. As I said, we don’t need paintings, just comedy based on recognisable people.”

“Oh. Okay. I could paint someone famous.”


“I don’t know. Johnny Depp?”

“And what would he be doing in the painting?”

“Well… maybe he could be, like, in a box of junk at some Hollywood executive’s yard sale. You know, because he doesn’t make good movies anymore. There could be cobwebs on him.”

“Yeah, okay, it needs work, but I see where you’re going. How long would it take you to paint something like that?”

“With my acrylics… maybe a week.”


“Well, that’s just a ballpark figure. If I skipped unnecessary details, let’s say… three hours?”

“Right, well, we generally stick with five-minute sets here at The Chuckle House, especially for new acts.”

“Oh. I see. Maybe I could impersonate Kanye West.”

Can you impersonate Kanye West?”

“…No. But I can do a pretty good Brando. STELLA! STELLA!”

“No, stop. You’re just yelling. Besides, no one knows who Brando is anymore. Look, I’m sorry, but this just isn’t going to happen. And since I have other people to see, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Oh. Yes, of course. Well, thank you for your time—Whoa! Aah!”

“Oh my God! Are you all right? That was a nasty fall. Your head went right through that canvas, so now you have a painting around your neck. Your nose is bleeding and you have a black eye. Oh my… you’ve ripped your pants as well—I can see your love heart boxer shorts. You look like an idiot. Wait a minute… would you be willing to do that on stage?”

“What—fall over and make a fool of myself?”

“Exactly. You’ll have to dress as Donald Trump, though.”

“Will people laugh at that?”

“Our most popular comic dresses as the pope and just says the F-word a lot—yes people will laugh at that. You’re hired.”



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