"PHONE A FRIEND" SKETCH
I wrote the following sketch for a corporate show held by Tektronix,Inc., a major manufacturer of radio oscillators. The show was held in an auditorium at Tektronix headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, on June 14, 2000. It was produced as an entertainment for Tektronix’s 200-member international sales force. The sales force was in Beaverton for a week of sales training. The show was produced by Syncopation Plus Productions of Lodi, California, directed by Joe Gotch. Comedian Christopher "Chiz" Chisholm served as host of the show.
The show was a spoof of the TV show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" It was called "The Million-Dollar Show," because, as Chiz Chisholm explained in his opening monologue, it had cost roughly a million dollars to produce. Contestants for the show were selected from the sales force audience. They were asked to answer multiple-choice game-show questions related to Tektronix and its products. I wrote about 100 game-show questions for the show, some examples of which are featured in this sketch.
Each contestant was asked seven questions, and a scale of points was used for each contestant. For each question they answered right, contestants could win 1000 points, 5000 points, 10,000 points, 50,000 points, 100,000 points, 500,000 points, and finally, "The Grand Prize." The "Grand Prize" was usually something legitimate, i.e. dinner for four at a local restaurant, or tickets to a Portland Trail Blazers' game.
The set for the show was made to look like the set of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" with contestants on stage sitting in the "Hot Seat," facing Chiz Chisholm. Each new question was displayed on a large video screen behind the contestants, so the audience could read the question as the host asked it. As the game-show questions were usually absurdly simple, most of the real contestants had no trouble getting to the "Grand Prize."
In addition to game-show questions, I also wrote several comedy sketches for Chiz Chisholm and his team to perform. Among the contestants selected from the audience were three "shills," actors who had been secretly planted in the game-show audience by Syncopation Plus to perform sketches such as this one.
This sketch satirizes the "Phone A Friend" option on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" For the actual show at Tektronix, the contestant called "Trevor Wilson" in this sketch was played by a Tektronix executive who was well-known to the members of the sales-force audience. The voice of his girlfriend, Janine, was performed by a voice actress hired by Syncopation Plus. (At the Tektronix show, the real first name of the executive's wife was used in place of "Janine" in the sketch)
DRAMATIC MUSIC AS CHIZ: INTRODUCES THE NEXT CONTESTANT
CHIZ: Okay, ladies and gentlemen! It's time to meet our next contestant. Would you please welcome, a man you all know, the director of Tektronix's International Sales Force, Trevor Wilson. How ya doing, Trevor?
TREVOR, a handsome young hotshot, takes the Hot Seat.
TREVOR: Just fine, Chiz.
CHIZ: Now, you're actually from this area, right?
TREVOR: That’s right, Chiz. I live here in Beaverton with my girlfriend, Janine.
CHIZ: Janine? Is she here today?
TREVOR: No, but she’s probably watching us right now. I told her I might be on the show today.
CHIZ: So she’s watching us now. She must be very devoted to you.
TREVOR (smugly): Oh, yeah. Janine’s crazy about me. She can’t live without me.
CHIZ (awkwardly): Well…that’s good to hear. All right, Trevor. Are you ready? I hope you're ready, because you're on "The Million-Dollar Show!"
CHIZ: First question. For 1,000 points. Which of these is not a radio oscillator manufactured by Tektronix? Is it A) The TDS7104? B) The TDS7404? C) The TDS694C? Or D) The Grand Canyon?
TREVOR: Uhh, it's D. Final answer.
CHIZ (kidding): D? Are you sure? Are you positive? D is correct, for 1,000 points! Next question. For 5,000 points. Which of these was not discovered or invented by Isaac Newton? Was it A) the laws of motion? B) the reflecting telescope? C) calculus? Or D) the fig newton cookie?
TREVOR: D. Final answer.
CHIZ: D is correct! Next question. For 10,000 points. In Tektronix terminology, what does "GPIB" stand for? Is it A) Gagging Proctologists In Beaverton? B) Gargoyles Punching Internet Browsers? C) General Purpose Interface Bus? Or D) Gastronomical Perverts Ingesting Bazookas?
TREVOR: The answer is C. Final answer.
CHIZ: C is correct! Next question. For 50,000 points. "During a recent sales conference in Munich, Germany, which of these Tektronix marketing geniuses drove a rental car from the airport to the convention center on the German Autobahn at 130 kilometers per hour with the parking brake engaged?" Was it A) Tom Freeman? B) Jit Lim? C) Marc Brenner? Or D) Brad Weber?
TREVOR: The answer is B, Jit Lim.
CHIZ: Are you sure? Is that your final answer?
TREVOR: Yes, I'm positive. I was actually in that car when Jit Lim was driving.
CHIZ: You're lucky you made it back to Beaverton in one piece. B is correct! Next question. For 100,000 points. In what year did Frederick Ohm discover Ohm’s Law of Electrical Resistance. Was it A) 1792? B) 1827? C) 1845? Or D) 1906?
TREVOR is silent for a moment, THINKING HARD.
TREVOR: Hmmm. That’s a tough question. Uhh, I think I’d like to use the "Phone a Friend" option.
CHIZ: Which friend would you like to call?
TREVOR: My girlfriend, Janine. She knows about physics. She should be at our house right now.
CHIZ: Okay, let’s get Janine on the phone, courtesy of AT & T.
Over the speakers, we hear a PHONE RINGING, then a CLICK as it is answered.
JANINE (on speakers): Hello?
TREVOR: Hi, Janine? It’s me, honey.
JANINE (on speakers; scornful): Trevor! I’m so glad you called while I was here. I just stopped by to pick up my things.
TREVOR (confused): Pick up your things? What are you talking about?
JANINE: I’m leaving you, Trevor. I’m moving out. I never want to see you again! Our relationship is over!
TREVOR (shocked): What?! But, Janine! You…you can’t leave me! Not now! I can’t understand it. Why are you leaving me?
JANINE (on speakers; bitterly): Trevor…I found those pictures you had hidden in the closet! I couldn’t believe it! You with my best friend, Denise! And her pet snake, no less!
TREVOR (stammering): But, Janine! You’ve got it all wrong! Th—th—those pictures are from a long time ago. It was before you and I got together.
JANINE: Don’t lie to me, Trevor. I hired a private detective to follow you! He saw you meeting with Denise down at the Shady Goat Motel last Tuesday.
TREVOR (cringing): Janine, please! This isn’t the time!
JANINE: You know, I can’t even remember why I ever found you attractive in the first place! You never change your socks. And that cologne you always wear smells like toxic waste.
TREVOR (pleading): But…but, "Guppy Lips!"
JANINE: And that’s another thing! I’m sick of all those stupid animal nicknames you keep calling me! "Guppy Lips" "Poodle Eyes.""Chipmunk Nose." It drives me crazy!
TREVOR: But Janine, please! I need your help! I’m on a game show right now!
JANINE: You’re on a…what?
CHIZ (breaking in): Uhh, hello, Janine? This is Chiz Chisholm, calling from "The Million-Dollar Show." And your boyfriend Trevor is in the Hot Seat right now. (Rolls his eyes. Aside.) Oh brother, is he ever in the Hot Seat!
JANINE (surprised): Trevor…you mean…you’re really on "The Million-Dollar Show?" (Laughs nervously.) Ah heh heh. And I thought you were just making that up, so you could go see Denise down at the motel. What level are you at?
TREVOR: Uhhh…I’m up to 100,000 points, baby.
JANINE (suddenly placent): Really? Gee, you’re only two levels away from the Grand Prize. Hmm. Uhhh…listen, Trevor. I suppose I could forgive you for having this affair. I mean, after all, people make mistakes, don’t they?
TREVOR (agreeing wholeheartedly): Oh, yes! Absolutely! I’m…I’m so sorry, honey! I swear, Denise means nothing to me!
JANINE (cheerful): Oh, I’m so glad to hear you say that, honey.
TREVOR (smiling): I love you, Janine.
JANINE (cooing): You can call me "Guppy Lips," darling.
CHIZ, by this time, is ROLLING HIS EYES, and NODDING HIS HEAD IMPATIENTLY, as if to say, "Come on! Let’s get on with it."
CHIZ (breaking in again): Uhh, excuse me, but…Trevor has a question and he needs your help, Janine. Are you ready, Trevor? You have thirty seconds. Start the timer.
A "TICK-TOCK" SOUND, indicating the timer, is heard over the speakers.
TREVOR: Okay, Janine. In what year did Frederick Ohm discover Ohm’s Law of Electrical Resistance. Is it A. 1792? B. 1827? C. 1845? Or D. 1906?
JANINE (over speakers): Now…Trevor, before I answer this, I want you to promise me that you’ll never see Denise again.
TREVOR (nervous): Huh? Oh, oh…okay, I promise.
JANINE: And, when you get home, I want you to buy me that diamond necklace I’ve asked for.
TREVOR: I’ll…I’ll buy it for you, honey. Just give me the answer!
JANINE: Aaaaaaand…I want you to get rid of that old Chevy pickup. I’m sick of riding in that thing. I want a BMW!
TREVOR: What? But…but I love my Chevy, Janine!
JANINE: Trevor, I’m warning you. I’ll hang up the phone!
TREVOR (frantic): No, wait! All right, I’ll get rid of the truck! Just give me the answer, please!
JANINE: The answer is…D. 1906!
The BUZZER sounds a half-second later! TREVOR looks exhausted.
TREVOR: Thank you, Janine. All right, Chiz. My answer is D. 1906.
CHIZ: Is that your final answer, Trevor?
TREVOR: Absolutely. If Janine says that’s the right answer, then I believe her.
CHIZ (looks at answer): I hate to tell you this, but Janine is wrong. The answer is B. 1827.
TREVOR (stunned): What? I don’t believe this. (To speakers.) Janine! You gave me the wrong answer!
JANINE (on speakers; stammering): Well…I had to take a guess, honey! I don’t know anything about electricity!
TREVOR: But you told me you knew about physics! You said you’d been calling the "Friends of Physics" hotline!
JANINE: I said I’d been calling the "Psychic Friends" hotline, you idiot!
TREVOR (angry): Well, a lot of good that did you! Some psychics they are! They couldn’t even predict that your boyfriend was going to be on "The Million-Dollar Show!"
JANINE (mad): Well, they were right about you, Trevor! They told me, "Your boyfriend is a real loser. You should leave him immediately!" Why didn't I listen to them?
TREVOR: I don’t believe this. I should have called Denise! She would have known the right answer!
JANINE (sobbing, hysterical): Well! If that’s the way you feel about it, I'm standing here with a loaded gun in my hand! Live with this, Trevor!
Over speakers, we hear a GUNSHOT—BANG!—followed by the KA-KLUNK-KLUNK sound of a body hitting the floor. CHIZ and TREVOR look startled.
CHIZ: Janine? Janine, are you there?
Over speakers, we hear a CLICK and a DIAL TONE. Then silence.
CHIZ: Well, anyway, you can't win 'em all. Thanks for playing with us, Trevor.
TREVOR: It was my pleasure, Chiz.
They SHAKE HANDS. TREVOR leaves. MUSIC UP.
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