Seventeen Seconds

Sunday 6 December 2009

I’ve had a pretty shit time this last week. I’m pretty much o-v-e-r work and am sick to the back teeth with all the stupid questions I am constantly asked by my colleagues (“How do I underline something in Word?” Press the little button of a U with an underline under it.; “Why won’t my printer work? I’ve sent it seventeen times and it’s still not there” Because you have sent it to the wrong printer. Congratulations, someone else now has seventeen copies of this incredibly contentious document.; “My letter won’t fit into this envelope, what should I do?” Fold the letter in half then try again.). As previously mentioned I’ve been playing the part of A/EA throughout November and continued to do so last week and – if all rumours are true – I’ll be doing it all the way through till Christmas, so I haven’t had a day off for ages (The one day I did have off to finish my script I was called in to the office to help with an important mail out.). So, basically, I’ve had it with work; for the rest of this year anyway.

Also, and this is the clincher, I did something very bold and Richard Curtis-y and emailed a fellow I have a thing for to tell him (“because it’s Christmas”) that I have a thing for him. Anyway, I haven’t heard anyway and have fretted / stressed about it so much that yesterday I woke with a cold sore. So, what lesson did Clyde learn Readers? It’s far better to sit in the corner, get drunk and do nothing because if you try to do something productive Cupid goes at you with a machete instead of an arrow. A lesson I think all of us have learnt at sometime in our lives… Cheers!

So throughout the week I’ve had a little YouTube window open on my computer so when I am getting too down in the dumps I can be injected with a quick pick-me-up. If you haven’t seen this, then you aren’t one of the 8 million who have already delighted in its pleasures. Please enjoy the loveliest 17 seconds on the internet:

I understand that Spielberg’s interested the film rights.

There’s a great article about it here at Boing Boing where a journalist tracked down the owner of the cat. It’s in French but there’s a translation; it’s worth the read.

Apparently the female kitten’s name is Attila Fluff – ain’t that something?

The Hidden Claus – A short Christmas skit for 4 or 5 ladies

Tuesday 1 December 2009

In the spirit of Christmas I present to you a little skit I wrote earlier this year for a friend of mine in Adelaide who has (and I quote) “the doubtful pleasure of being president of a ladies Probus club – a club for old ladies.” They traditionally put on a little show at the Christmas party and so she asked me to knock up a little something for them. Always up for a challenge I gladly accepted.

What I came up with was a panto-esque visually-driven skit as that, to me, is the traditional Christmas-style show. A few bad jokes, a couple of oversized props, and a Santa doll tied to a wooden spoon – how more Christmassy can you get?!

I should admit that I blatantly stole based the Mailwoman character on the Mailman character in an episode of The Young Ones, but as long as you don’t blab no one will ever know.

So, please enjoy and don’t forget to send me a couple of comps if ever throw this together.



The Hidden Claus

A short Christmas skit for 4 or 5 ladies.

by Matthew Huxtable



Mrs Sandra Claus:  Exhausted wife of Santa Claus

Mandy:  Mrs Claus’ sensible cousin

Mrs Ester Bunny:  Very ocker wife of the Easter Bunny

Postwoman:  A Shakespearean Delivery Service

Santa Claus:  A Puppet



The silent role of Santa Claus is performed by a Santa Claus doll tied to a wooden spoon with Christmas ribbon. A hand or finger puppet of Santa Claus is another suggestion.

The roles of Postwoman and Santa Claus can be played by the one performer.


The Scene:

The living room of the Claus residence, on the night before Christmas.

At Up Right is a collection of Christmas wrapped boxes of various sizes. On top of the largest box is a medium box with the open flaps facing forward, much like two open doors. This is Santa’s study and has an opening on the bottom for the Santa Claus puppet to poke through. The largest box acts as a screen for the puppeteer to hide behind, such as a table on its side. The other boxes are for decoration with the effect being a pile of presents ready for delivery.

Upstage is also the front door. If the Postwoman and Santa are played by the one person the actor appears from around the largest box; otherwise the front door is Up Left. By the front door is a hat rack on which hangs Santa’s iconic hat.

At Centre is a table with two chairs; on the table a bowl of lollies. Down Left is an opened ironing board and another chair.

To Stages Right and Left are doors to other rooms – a spare room Left and the reindeer sheds and kitchen Right.

All other decoration is to your tastes and extravagances.


The Play:

[The stage is empty, but out of the open medium box streams an endless list of children’s names. Throughout the play this list is constantly fed onto the stage, much like an old fashion ticker tape machine. Also coming from the box is the tinny sound of classic Christmas carols playing a tad too loudly.

A worn out Mrs Claus enters Stage Left carrying her full basket of ironing and plonks it down on the chair. She begins her ironing but soon puts down the iron in frustration. She leans towards the open box.]

MRS C:  Randle, do you mind?

[The carols are turned down, but can still softly be heard. NOTE: Slowly fade the carols down through Mandy and Mrs Claus’s dialogue.]

Thank you. [continues ironing] Silent night? Fat chance! Holy? The only thing “holey” around here are his socks.

[She takes a sock from the basket and sticks her hand through it. Her fingers poke out a hole in the toe.]

[Mandy enters Stage Right. She carries a tray of tea things, the important items being three cups, a sugar bowl and a pot of tea. She places it on the table and pours two cups.]

MANDY:  Tea’s up. [nods to the box] He still playing those songs? I would have thought he’d get sick of them.

MRS C:  Sick of them? He loves them, especially the ones about himself. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, “Jolly Old St Nicholas”, “Here Comes Santa Claus”; he puts them on repeat. Last year he played “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” non-stop for two solid weeks. I swear he only did it to annoy me.

MANDY:  And did it?

MRS C:  Yes. But I got my revenge. On Christmas Eve I fed the reindeer baked beans for dinner. Whoh! You imagine being stuck behind eight flatulent reindeer!

MANDY:  [takes across her tea] You are mean to him. He brings so much joy to so many children. Look, he’s in there now checking his list.

MRS C:  That list, that painful list! I hear it in my sleep. “Susan… nice. Tony… nice. Matthew… naughty. Graham… nice.” It drives me bonkers!

MANDY:  He works very hard.

MRS C:  Only one day of the year. The elves make all the toys. He’s hired a Yeti to tend to the reindeer. What does he do the rest of the year? Sit around and eat sweets. Look, I’ve had to let his pants out again.

[She holds up from the basket an incredibly wide pair of red pants.]

And reinforce the waistline.

MANDY:  Oh, stop picking on him. Do you think he’ll like a cup of tea?

MRS C:  I’ll ask. [calls] Randle!

[Up from the box pops Santa – a doll on a stick.]

Mandy’s made a pot, fancy a cuppa?

[Santa moves a “no”.]

Right then.

[Santa jumps up and down.]

What was that?

[Santa jumps up and down again.]

I think you’ve had enough lollies.

[Santa jumps more frantically.]

Oh all right, don’t get stroppy. Mandy, would you?

[Mandy takes lollies up to Santa.]

Just one!

MANDY:  Here, take two.

[She passes them across. Santa goes back into his box and continues checking his list.]

MRS C:  Mandy!

MANDY:  Oh, he needs his strength.

MRS C:  He needs a diet, that’s what he needs! I blame all those kids putting out all those snacks. Bottles of beer and plates of Tim Tams. What he really needs is a tall glass of tomato juice and a few sticks of celery! You may call it “jolly” but it’s adult onset diabetes if you ask me.

MANDY:  I’ll make up a salad for lunch, will that make you happy?

[Mrs Claus grumbles a non-reply]

[There’s a knock at the front door. Mrs Bunny enters carrying a large basket. She takes off her bonnet and hangs it on the hat rack. Besides her big ears and enormous fluffy tail she looks just like the other two.]

BUNNY:  Cooee! Only Mrs B!

MRS C:  Ester, how are you?

BUNNY:  Not as busy as you, I should think this time of year! Just hopped over for a cup of sugar. [She holds up a cup from her basket]

MRS C:  Help yourself.

BUNNY:  You’re a Christmas Angel.

MRS C:  Ester, I’d like you to meet my cousin Mandy who’s visiting for a few days. Mandy, say “hello” to Mrs Bunny.

MANDY:  Hello Mrs Bunny, pleased to meet you.

BUNNY:  Call me Ester.

[She starts spooning sugar into her cup.]

MANDY:  I never would have thought you’d be living at the North Pole.

BUNNY:  Where did you think we’d live – Croydon? [or some other suitable location] I’m just down the road at number 42. Been at the North Pole for years now. We did live for some time on the Australian Sunshine Coast, but it didn’t work out.

MANDY:  Why’s that? Not a beach person?

BUNNY:  No, the chocolate eggs kept melting. [still spooning in sugar] Rupert and I, we like it up here. The winter’s may be six month’s long but at least it keeps the produce hard … unlike the husband!

[She cackles at her filthy joke. Mandy mouths to Mrs Claus: “I don’t get it.” Mrs Claus mouths back: “Don’t worry.”]

Listen to me, rabbiting on!

MANDY:  Tea?

BUNNY:  Thanks, don’t mind if I do.

[She holds out her sugar filled cup and Mandy absentmindedly fills it. Mandy picks up the sugar bowl but turns it upside-down – it’s empty.]

MANDY:  I’m afraid we’re out of sugar.

BUNNY:  That’s quite all right, I never touch the stuff. [sips her tea] Ahh, lovely! [to Mrs Claus] How’s business?

MRS C:  Flat out, but ‘tis the season.

BUNNY:  He in?

MRS C:  He’s checking his list.

BUNNY:  I’ve something for him. [calls out] Cooee Randle!

[Up pops Santa.]

Rupert wanted me to give you this.

[She takes out an Easter egg and gives it to Santa. Santa disappears back into his box.]

MRS C:  Not more chocolate!

BUNNY:  It’ll keep up his energy.

[Santa pops back up. He is FURIOUS! He jiggles madly for a few seconds while the others watch stunned. He disappears again. The egg is thrown out of his box. Mrs Bunny collects the discarded egg.]

BUNNY:  Well I never!

MANDY:  With language like that I know which list he’s on this Christmas. Whatever could have caused that?

BUNNY:  I can tell you. It’s not chocolate – it’s carob!

MRS C:  Your Rupert! Up to his old tricks.

BUNNY:  I should apologise.

MRS C:  Oh, don’t worry. Let him have his sulk.


MANDY:  I must say, it is a pretty impressive trick.

BUNNY:  It’s just carob.

MANDY:  No, not that; how he manages to be in all those shopping centres at the same time. I mean, I was out shopping with my Stephanie last week and we saw him four times. “Hang on,” I thought, “you were just in Myers, what you doing here in Westfield Mall?” [aside to Mrs Bunny] We didn’t go up and say hello or anything, what with him being family and all. Oh, that’s reminds me. [calls out] Randle!

[Up pops Santa.]

How’s my Stephanie doing on your list?

[Santa disappears. There’s a great rush of paper pushed out Santa’s room, as if he was searching his list for a certain name. He finds it and pops back up again. He jiggles his reply.]

[content with his answer] Oh good. But fair’s fair, she has been good this year. What she asked for?

[Santa flips open a note pad and consults his notes for a while. The note pad disappears and Santa jiggles again.]

A pony! [aside] What is it with little girls and horses? [to Santa] Do us a favour will you Randle, how about a Barbie Dream Pony instead?

[Santa says no.]

Well can you at least make it a cat?

[Santa considers this, then jumps up and down a “yes”.]

Thanks Randle. [to the others] We can cope with a cat. [to Santa] Here, have a candy cane.

[She takes him up the sweet. Santa disappears into his box and continues checking his list.]

MRS C:  Don’t feed him!

MANDY:  Sandra, he’s done me a favour! He’s just saved me from a lifetime’s supply of garden manure. And you’ve seen where we live… we’d never get the horse in the lift. And we’re would we keep it? On the balcony – twelve floors up?

BUNNY:  You’ve seen what pigeons can do a car parked under a tree, imagine what damage a horse would make to your paintwork.

MANDY:  [ponders] Do horses get vertigo?

MRS C:  Oh, stop defending him. He does one day’s work a year and expects to be treated like a royalty for the other three hundred and sixty four. I’m the one who keeps this place going. Look. [holds up a blanket with “BLITZEN” quilted on it] I’m even doing the reindeer’s bedclothes.

BUNNY:  [to Mandy] The Yeti not working out then?

MANDY:  Simply abominable!

MRS C:  Things are going to have to change I tell you, it’s about time I got some respect!

[Mailwoman enters dragging a HUGE sack.]

MAIL:  Delivery!

[Mailwoman makes a big deal of dragging the sack and finally plonks it Down Centre. The character can best be described as a Shakespearean Town Crier. Remember, it’s a small part so ham it up as much as you can.]

Behold! I bring thee scriptures from fledglings professing their innocence and virtue. Young sprouts begging armoury; tiny lassies yearning for geldings.

MANDY:  [to Mrs C] What?

MRS C:  Boys wants guns, girls want ponies.

MAIL:  Aye, too true, too true. What avid dreams thy offspring claim so flitters away at St Nicholas’s visit on force and horse.

MANDY:  Bon bon?

MAIL:  I’d be crackers to refuse.

[Mailwoman fills her pockets with sweets.]

MRS C:  [looking in the bag] Not more children’s letters! Look at them – hundreds and hundreds. A whole bag of letters all addressed to Santa Claus! That all you brought?

MAIL:  Nay, sweet maiden, I also bring tidings for you. [wields out a single envelope] The gas bill. [hands it to a miffed Mrs Claus] And now I must leave. Again I venture white-wards, into thy blizzardry landscape, to face weather both fierce and foul.

BUNNY:  “Foul”? What, she talking about chickens now?

MAIL:  Adieu, goodbye, farewell I humbly plead. Parting is such sweet sorrow, and thanks again for the boiled delights.

[And after a flourish of her hand she spins around and is out the door. If you’re lucky the audience will give her a round of applause as she leaves. If so, Mailwoman turns as if to say “Is that for me?” then bounds to the front of the stage for an over the top display of bows and general hamming. Someone could bring her a bunch of flowers – perhaps Mrs Claus has one in her basket? Drag this out for as long as you wish – the others just sit there and look bored, miming to each other such things like “Who does she think she is?”. ]

[Finally Mailwoman leaves the stage. The others pause for a moment to regain their posture before Mrs Claus lets loose.]

MRS C:  That’s it! I’m not ironing another holly printed napkin until I’m shown some worth!

BUNNY:  Fat chance there. We do all the work and they get all the glory!

MRS C:  Glory for palming out cheaply wrapped boxes! I wish that were my only job around here.

MANDY:  [a pause, then:] Then why not do it?

MRS C:  Pardon?

MANDY:  Why not you be Santa Claus this year?

BUNNY:  You don’t mean…

MANDY:  Can you drive the sleigh?

MRS C:  [thinking it through] I fly it down to Woolworths every Saturday for the groceries.

BUNNY:  What about the delivery route?

MRS C:  Oh it’s all been computerised. He’s got it all in one of those Nav/Com things. Besides the reindeer could do it with their eyes closed. It would show him, though, wouldn’t it?

BUNNY:  He’d be Randle the Red Faced Santa!

MRS C:  And we the Three Wise Women.

MANDY:  Then what’s stopping you?

MRS C:  Nothing. Nothing’s stopping me. Oh but I couldn’t; it wouldn’t be fair. I mean, I’m close to the edge, but I haven’t been pushed over yet.

[The carol “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” starts playing from Santa’s box. Mrs Claus bristles.]

MRS C:  I’m over!

[Santa starts reeling in his list of names.]

BUNNY:  Quick then! He’s finished checking his list!

MANDY:  He’s nearly ready to leave! What do we do?

MRS C:  Mandy, Ester, hold the doors. I’ll be straight back!

[Mrs Claus runs off Stage Left. Mandy and Bunny jump up and grab hold of Santa’s box flaps and hold them close. Santa starts fighting against the doors, every now and then breaking through, yet Mandy and Bunny are able to mostly keep the doors closed.]

MANDY:  Hurry Sandra, he’s getting through.

BUNNY:  For a little man he’s stronger than he looks!

MANDY:  Come on Randle, remember your blood pressure!

[Mrs Claus returns with a roll of decorative sticky tape.]

MRS C:  Just the thing – Sticky tape!

[She breaks off strips of the tape and starts sticking the two doors shut so Santa can no longer get through, though he continues to bounce around inside the box. As a final flourish Mrs Claus takes from her apron pocket a decorative bow and sticks it onto the box.]

MRS C:  There! That aught to hold him!

MANDY:  Not for long.

MRS C:  But enough for me to get those reindeers airborne. Ester, go check with the yeti to make sure everything’s ready.

BUNNY:  Sure thing. [to the world in general] Ah, I know who’s delivering the eggs next year. Rubert’s going to be one Hot Cross Bunny!

[Bunny leaves Stage Right]

[Mrs Claus puts on the Santa hat.]

MRS C:  How do I look?

MANDY:  Like a right jolly old elf!

MRS C:  Right then, I’m off. Wish me luck.

MANDY:  Good luck!

[They give each other a good luck kiss. Mrs Claus rushes Stage Right.]

MANDY:  And Happy Chrismas!

MRS C:  Yes! Happy Christmas to all, and to him [nodding towards Santa’s box, and as if to say “good riddance”] a good night!

[She exits.]




On Stage:

  • Pile of Christmas paper wrapped various sized cardboard boxes. For the largest box is either place a table on its side or a refrigerator box cut open for access from the back. Above the largest box is a medium box with access at the bottom for a rod puppet to stick up. The medium box has it’s flaps open towards the audience. Attached to each box is a name tag.
  • Hat rack with Santa hat.
  • Table with two chairs, on table a bowl of lollies.
  • Open ironing board with iron, and chair.

Off Stage:

  • Tea tray (Mandy) containing: tea pot; three cups; and a bowl of sugar.
  • Laundry basket (Mrs Claus) containing: a humongous sized Santa Claus pants; a blanket with “Blitzen” quilted onto it; a bunch of flowers (optional); and assorted clothing.
  • Basket (Mrs Bunny) containing: a cup; and an Easter egg.
  • Mail bag (Mailwoman) containing: hundreds of envelopes addressed to Santa.
  • Decorative sticky tape (Mrs Claus).


  • List of names (Santa) being: a long paper roll from a cash register decorated with a list of names. Next to each name is a green tick or a red cross. It’s not important if the names can be read or not.
  • Note pad (Santa) being: the flip top variety.
  • Decorative ribbon bow (Mrs Claus); in apron pocket.
  • Envelope (Mailwoman) being: the gas bill for Mrs Claus; in pocket.


  • Christmas carols, including “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.


Notes and Suggestions:

My preferred method for creating Santa Claus is by a Santa Claus doll tied to a wooden spoon with Christmas ribbon. It is obvious that it’s just a little doll stuck on a spoon and if the performer’s hand is at times seen when Santa “speaks” it adds to the silliness. Otherwise, a hand or finger puppet of Santa Claus is another suggestion, though there will need to be more a sense of reality to the performance.

For curtain call, if Santa and Postwoman are played by the same woman then the actor can hold the puppet when she takes her bow. Otherwise, the medium box should be reopened before curtain call and after the actors have taken their bows, much like with an orchestra, they gesture towards the box and Santa pops up and takes his solo bow. Of course, there is no reason why the performer playing Santa can’t come and join the others for a final bow.

Santa’s dialogue could be punctuated with a sweaky noise, such as from a child or dog’s rubber toy. The effect is to have Santa cute and slightly ridiculous, such as with the classic puppets Sooty and Sweep, and not ugly and threatening, such as with the Punch character.

Slowly fade out the Christmas carols before Santa makes his first appearance.

The Santa pants in Mrs Claus’s basket should be outrageously big. These can be made by sewing two “V” cut pieces of red fabric together, then trimming the “legs” with white fabric, such as polar fleece. Around the “waist” should be a black belt with a large gold buckle.

The Blitzen blanket can be made by an old child’s quilt with “BLITZEN” appliquéd on.

Mrs Bunny may want to shake off some snow on her entrance to suggest the weather conditions outside.

So Mrs Claus doesn’t get stuck behind the ironing board the entire performance, she could wander back and forth to the table gesticulating wildly with the iron. As such, don’t use a turned off iron.

Along with the Santa hat, his coat can also be hanging on the hat rack. It all depends on how much time Mrs Claus needs to get dressed.

As this was written with small stage spaces in mind, there is little need for further sets and props than what is listed. If there is space, and budget, a Christmas tree for the presents to be arranged around would look festive. A fireplace lined with stockings Down Right is a nice additive – this would also give Mandy and Mrs Bunny the chance to go over and warm themselves so they are not always sitting around the table.  If there is a window Upstage the effect of falling snow would help set the scene. But don’t forget that the real attraction of the show is the Ladies.

Place a Christmas tablecloth over the table. And never forget the decorative abilities of tinsel.

And finally, please remember: this is a first draft. Any suggestions are warmly welcomed.

Happy Christmas!

August 2009.