Selling Sarcasm (Is A Great Way To Deal)

(Open on a studio occupied by Jane Lane, vainly trying to look professional.)

Jane: Like it or not, people judge things by their appearance, and not just my artwork. We are all shallow shallow people, especially Quinn. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as I’m here with someone that can help you take advantage of appearances. I’m meeting her for the first time too… Really… It’s Amy Barksdale!

(Applause as Amy enters.)

Jane: Hello Amy, it’s a pleasure to have you here today.

Amy: No, no, the pleasure is all mine!

Jane: (Cheesy grin) Aw shucks. Now, what is your exciting new program?

Amy: I’ll get to that in a moment. But to sound spontaneous, did you see my sports car outside?

Jane: I sure did. Why, it looks just like the kind of car a wealthy successful woman would drive.

Amy: It is. Now, what do I do?

Jane: I don’t know. Are you in art appraisal?

Amy: Maybe I am. You know, when I ask people this question, I never get the same response twice!

Jane: What have people said you do?

Amy: Oh, everything from journalism to advanced thermodynamics.

Jane: That’s very impressive.

Amy: And the best part is, I don’t do any of it!

Jane: Really?

Amy: Really. I just present the appearance of being an urbane intellectual and let the other person fill in the rest. Sure what they come up with can be highly unflattering, but you take the good with the bad. I call it an exercise in speculative imagination!

Jane: I know, I know. That sounds like a cool way to lead your life.

Amy: With sufficient training, you can be anything you want. In fact, I could afford to quit my old job to live this life.

Jane: Wait, I’m not quite convinced. Do you have any more examples of your revolutionary method to tell me?

Amy: I do, funnily enough. Do you know my niece Daria Morgendorffer?

Jane: [Lying through her teeth.] No.

Amy: She’s a good person to know, by turns sardonic and sympathetic. Unfortunately, that appealing intelligent personality doesn't extend to her fiction. Through my program however, she has convinced people that she’s actually a good writer, without even reading her work. I’ve read it, and I can honestly tell you, her writing redefines crap. Kafka must be ashamed of having his poster in her room. Nonsensical plots, inconsistent characterisation, and a tendency to use profanities to punctuate her cumbersome sentences, and that’s not even mentioning the---

Jane: Why you sound like a copy editor or literary critic.

Amy: Do I? It’s up to you!

Jane: That’s pretty convincing. But wait, I’m still not convinced.

Amy: Don’t worry, I could always tell you about my sister Helen.

Jane: Oh please do.

Amy: Everyone thinks she’s a high-powered lawyer, but I’ve seen her in court. She’ll kill me for saying this, but she makes Lionel Hutz look professional. She once took a request to drop her ‘legal briefs’ as an invitation to strip. [Pause.] There’s a reason she won’t let cameras into the courtroom.

Jane: That sounds pretty bad.

Amy: But it’s alright, Helen and Daria were the first graduates of the Barksdale Program, and it’s worked wonders. Just listen to this genuine testimony;

[Footage plays.]

Helen: It’s so great to have people think I know what I’m doing. Since taking the Barksdale Program people view me as the high-powered lawyer and mother I rightfully am!

Daria: I just hope it works on the Booker committee.

[Footage ends.]

Amy: And I didn’t even have to pay them. [Murmured.] Much.

Jane: Well, you’ve certainly convinced me. How do I join the Barksdale Program?

Amy: Why I’m glad you asked. All it takes is sending four easy payments of $29.95 to the address on-screen.

Jane: And what do I get for that?

Amy: In exchange for your hard-earned dollars, you’ll receive a set of confidence building tapes, each telling you how to present yourself to others.

[Footage from the tape plays, with ‘inspirational’ music underneath. Amy speaks directly to the camera.]

Amy: You can do this, I believe in you. Don’t take BS from anyone; unless it’s the sort of BS you want to hear. [Cut] And I can’t emphasise this enough, read as widely as you can so you sound believable. You don’t have to actually finish the books, but you should start them. [Cut] Stand in front of the mirror and say ‘I’m a winner.’ Come on, say it, I can’t hear you!

[Cut to studio.]

Jane: I’m a winner!

Amy: Yes you are. And you too [Points to camera] can be a winner. Joining the Barksdale Program is the easiest decision you’ll ever make, and the most rewarding. Use your skills on friends, coworkers, complete strangers, it’s up to you!

Jane: I really recommend them, they’ve changed my life, they really have. Amy, I’d like to thank you for coming in today.

Amy: No, thank you.

(Amy leaves to applause, ended only by the entry of security.)

Security Officer: Are you supposed to be here?

Jane: Uh….

[Tape ends.]