Scene: The Weekly Name that 'Toon Award Gala
Exuding well-oiled charm, the Master of Ceremonies warbles the final bars of the beloved Name that 'Toon theme song, "Jerusalem on the Jukebox" by Richard Thompson. (Ted Nugent failed the audition when his guitar discharged feedback accidentally while he was cleaning it, piercing Wayne Anthony Ross with a high "E".)
With a flourish, the emcee disembowls the golden envelope containing the winner's name. He pauses to note that "It's amazing what you can find at Costco." A clever tactic that builds tension as the impatient masses howl the names of their favorite captionators.
The mob is drowned out by the sound of breaking glass and the steady throb of falling truncheons as a security detail of off-duty cops and bouncers from seedy local bars subdues and removes rowdies from Haines. The humor hooligans hurl pithy, inventive insults with devastating effect. Some of the bouncers are crying at the verbal fusillades, while others mentally double their fees for the next NTT function. There's a reason they're called "punchlines."
The emcee, who is not getting any younger, removes his sweat-slick glasses and squints at the name printed on the card... and for the thousandth time wishes he had learned to read.
Recognizing the letter "S" from his undergraduate years watching Sesame Street, a smile of relief creases his face. The moment has arrived....
"All the way from Haines, (wild cheering from the rowdies) er, correction... Kasilof, (screams of fierce outrage from the rowdies) give it up for the Kenai Krusher... SANDY MATTHEWS! (Crowd goes wild, fistfights erupt as the bouncers mentally triple their fees.) Sandy chokes back a tear, genuinely moved at the honor from the NTT faithful.
The champ steps up to the microphone and glows from within as the spotlight shines from without. We watch for an anxious minute as the Kolossus of Kasilof struggles to contain emotions known only to a select few, a disproportionate number of whom come from Alaska's humor capital, Haines.
The champ concentrates, and speaks. "I'd like to thank my family, my high school English teacher. and so many who helped me along the way, whose names I frankly forget." A tear glints forth here and there in the audience as many of those people actually drove all the way from Kasilof in hope that their names would be mentioned.
Heedless of their sobs the champ continues in a voice that quavers with emotion. "I would like to thank these little people, but it would be wrong."
"There is truly only one person whose dedication, talent, and sheer unflagging inventive imagination gave wings to my inspiration and made this caption possible."
"And, no, I am not talking about you, Peter." (The emcee winces, visibly shaken.) Sandy struggles for the right words, then plunges ahead as the crowd buzzes in anxious anticipation.
"Thank you, the one, the only...Frank Murkowski!" There is a dead silence, a long pause, followed by a hiatus that swells into a lacuna. Then, just as the author runs out of synonyms, the crowd erupts in gales of laughter. The emcee applauds wildly. There is unanimous agreement that these two words are the best punchline the state of Alaska has ever produced. And from the state that gave us Don Young, that's one for the record books.
Lights up, exit crowd, rioting.
Thanks Sandy, and see you all next week when we answer the question "Who else can we pick on?"