Selected scenes from Musical!
a one-man, one-act play

A sweltering summer in New York City of the 1930s. Herbert Hoover is President. The curtain rises on a studio apartment. Everything is black and white, naturally. We find STANLEY HACKMAN seated at a desk. He is disheveled, excited, and on the telephone.


Yes, Mr. President, it sure is. Damned depressing. You said it. And... well, I’m on it. I’m your man, sir. Stanley Hackman is your man. I won’t let you down. I won’t let the country down! I’ll write the musical to end all musicals! What’s that, sir? Well, yes... no, that’s true. Not to end all musicals, not really. But to end this economic slump, for sure! Yes, sir. You, too, sir. God bless America!

STANLEY hangs up the phone. His demeanor quickly changes from enthusiastic to the opposite of enthusiastic.

(to audience)

I didn’t have the heart to tell him: The Stanley Hackman he wanted—the Stanley Hackman who wrote the political musical blockbuster Trustbusters! uncle and namesake—died three years ago. I got his apartment... and I kept the same number—LLewelyn 5-6133.... And now I’ve promised the President of the United States... well, you heard.

I don’t know the first thing about writing a musical, though. I don’t even know the first thing about music. And don’t get me started on lyrics... but I suppose I’d better get started on lyrics—and music! The country needs me!

He picks up the telephone again.

(jauntily, with renewed enthusiasm)

Hello? Public library...?

Stanley’s apartment, now filled with books. We don’t see Stanley, but we can hear him...

(reading aloud)

Whole note... half note... quarter note... eighth note... semiquaver... demisemiquaver... hemidemisemiquaver? Are you fucking kidding me?! I NEED TO WRITE A GODDAMNED MUSICAL THIS WEEK, OR PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE!

The books are gone from Stanley’s apartment. Stanley is completely nude, sitting in the fetal position behind his couch, rocking back and forth.


Smoot-Hawley... Loot-trolley? Foot-bally? Newt... crawly?

Stanley’s apartment. Stanley is fully dressed and seated at his desk. Beside his desk is a steamer trunk. Stanley is on the phone.


Yes, I’d like to purchase passage to Portugal, please... oh, just one moment, I’ve got another call coming in.

Stanley presses, then depresses, the plunger on the telephone.

(distractedly... then patriotically)

Hello? Yes, this is he. Of course.... Good afternoon, Mr. President. Yes, I am. Absolutely. Guantanamo Bay, you say. I understand completely. God bless America.

Stanley presses, then depresses, the plunger on the telephone again.


About that boat to Portugal... I’m going to have to pass.

Stanley’s apartment. Stanley is standing on a chair, securing a noose to a hook in the ceiling.

Stanley’s apartment. Stanley is arguing with a floor fan.


No, you’re the traitor...!

Stanley’s apartment. Stanley is at his desk, head down, writing.


Boover, coover, doover, foover, goover...

The sounds of automatic gunfire and police sirens in the street drown out Stanley for half a minute.


...sherbert mover!

Stanley’s apartment. Stanley is speaking to the floor fan.


I’m so sorry...

Stanley’s apartment. Stanley is on the telephone.


Which one is stage left, again...? You’re sure...? Okay, thank you, Mr. President. My best to Mrs. Hoover.

Stanley’s apartment. Stanley is at his desk, writing. He has not slept in a week. He is wearing an American flag kimono and there is a spoon behind his ear. The floor fan lies prone, motionless, its neck snapped. Stanley’s couch is on fire, and a Barbary macaque is swinging from the noose affixed to the ceiling.


...and it’s done! The greatest musical of all time! Now I can finally get some rest!

Stanley’s apartment. Nighttime. Stanley is asleep in his bed. A phone rings.

(bolting awake, confused)

What...? Wait! It... it was all a dream?!

The phone continues to ring. Stanley gets out of bed and walks upstage to his desk. He answers the phone.


Hello? Who...? Well, of course, Mr. President. It would be an honor....


Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.