Kent, a 35-year-old reluctant clown under the stage name “Bonkers” is working a child’s birthday party. A six-year-old girl, Lyra, comes up to Kent at his little clown booth as the rest of the guests sing happy birthday offstage. Kent is trying to light an oversized comical cigar, but his lighter is broken. By this point it is late in the party and Kent is fed up with these kids.
KENT: (hiding the cigar) Hello there, little girl. What’s your name?
LYRA: I’m Lyra!
KENT: (uncaring) Well my name’s Bonkers. Are you ready to laugh-
LYRA: Want me to spell it?
LYRA: My name. I can spell it! Listen. L-I-R… A!
KENT: That’s, uh, that’s great kid. Real great.
LYRA: No! Wait! I did it wrong! L- …Y-R-A. Lyra!
KENT: Amazin’. So what, you want a… a prize or somethin’? I got candy. You want candy?
LYRA: (suddenly shy) I… I’m not supposed to accept candy from strangers.
KENT: Stranger? I ain’t a stranger. I’m a clown. You can take candy from clowns.
LYRA: No I can’t.
KENT: Why not.
LYRA: My mommy said not to accept candy from strangers or people with big white vans. You’re strange and you’ve got a van in the front yard. I saw.
KENT: Hey, my van is not white. It’s a healthy shade of rust. (Lyra says nothing.) Okay, fine. No candy. Howsabout a balloon animal?
LYRA: (cheery again) Okay!
KENT: Alright, what’s your favorite animal?
KENT: How about a snake. (He inflates a balloon into a sausage and presents it in a half-assed pose.) Bam-o. A snake.
LYRA: I’m allergic to snakes.
KENT: You ain’t allergic to this one. (He shoves it into her hands and attempts to light his cigar again, to no avail.) …Don’t look at me like that. Okay, fine, I’ll make you another one.
LYRA: Yay! (Kent blows up an identical balloon of a different color.)
KENT: A worm.
LYRA: These animals are boring!
KENT: Well, aren’t we picky. Here, I’ll try something that’s not an animal. Maybe that’ll please you, Little Miss Hard-to-Please. (He blows up a third, identical balloon “animal.”) A spaghetti.
LYRA: Just one? (He makes another.)
KENT: Two spaghettis.
LYRA: Can you make anything else?
KENT: Well, I can make a few more balloon objects, but they ain’t all age appropriate.
LYRA: You’re not a very funny clown.
KENT: Now beat it Leah, I got things to do. (He fumbles with the lighter again.)
LYRA: My name is Lyra. L-Y-R-A. Lyra-
KENT: Amazing, now get outta here.
LYRA: I don’t think I like clowns.
KENT: (Losing any cool he had left) You don’t like clowns? You say you don’t like clowns? A’course you don’t like clowns, kid. Nobody likes clowns. You don’t like clowns, I don’t like clowns, birthday boy over there don’t like clowns, and his parents certainly don’t like clowns. The only reason anybody even hires clowns for these birthday shindigs anymore is to scare away the kids that weren’t invited! And we can’t even scare kids away no more, considerin’ you’re still here! (She stares at him, making a pouty face.) Aw, don’t look at me like that… Look, kid, I didn’t want to be a clown. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide I wanted to put on stupid makeup every morning, so I could go walk around in stupid shoes all day and play gigglefarts with you stupid, snot-nosed brats. I mean, I wanted to be an entertainer, but not like this! Not workin’ with you little rugrats! I was gonna perform for high class people! Folks with monocles, and mustaches under their noses instead of boogers.
LYRA: Do high class folks like spaghettis?
KENT: I dunno! I never met one! I was on the fast track to stardom! I was the best thespian in my school! You know what a thespian is, don’tcha?
LYRA: No. I betcha I can spell it though.
KENT: Ah, shaddup. Every time you open that Little Orphan Annie mouth ‘a yours, it just reminds me of this pit of a job I’m in. I was gonna be Kent, the actor, and now I’m Bonkers, the clown. There’s nothin’ funny about what I am. Well, my life is a joke. That’s sorta funny in a sad, ironic way or somethin’. Ah, I dunno, I’m not a poet. I’m not much of anything, really. (Sort of forgetting Lyra is there, Kent takes out the Cigar again, and it still refuses to light.) Oh, for the love of- (He remembers Lyra is there, staring at him, and he takes out a bicycle horn.) Oh for the love of (honk).
LYRA: So… you want to be an actor person? Like on the TV?
KENT: No, what I want is for you to vamoose. …And for this cruddy old Zippo to work.
LYRA: You shouldn’t smoke. My mommy says smoking is bad-
KENT: Would you get outta here!? (He removes his clown nose and throws it at her, Lyra runs away.) Heh. Can’t wait to get the feedback from this one. I’m gonna get fired for sure. Ah well. At least that makes one of us, eh Cigar? (A moment passes of nothing but Ken honking his horn. After a second, Lyra comes running back on stage with a piece of the freshly cut birthday cake. The cake has still a burning candle on top. She comes over to Kent and gives him the cake.)
KENT: What’s this.
LYRA: I got you this piece of cake. My mommy told me once that everyone is nice on the inside, even if they don’t seem like it at first. So I thought that maybe if I got you this cake, you wouldn’t be so mean anymore.
KENT: (Looks at cake, takes it reluctantly after a moment. He takes the still burning candle and uses it to finally light his cigar.) Hey, thanks kid.
LYRA: (Sitting next to him) You’re welcome, Mr. Kent!
KENT: How’d you know my name?
LYRA: You said it before. Kent. K-E-N-T. Kent.
KENT: (Taking bites of cake in between puffs of his cigar) So I did, so I did. (beat) Well, is that all?
LYRA: My mommy also said that people should talk their problems out. So I’m here, and we’re gonna talk! So what did you mean when you said you were the best lesbian in your school?
KENT: (Quickly makes a balloon animal giraffe and hands it to her.) I’ll give you this is you agree to never say that word in front of your parents.