BL&F 2: DEAD FUNNY - A TREATMENT FOR DJANGO AWAY!
A WEB-BOUND EXIFESTERN TRILOGY
"What’s so funny?”
Thoughts rationalise the spontaneous.
A phrase that undermines the hurt.
“No harm done”
A rationale based on no visible scars.
But how would this play out if we dream up a world one step removed from our own? A world where a joke bruises not just the ego, but the flesh itself!
It’s not so hard to imagine is it? Is it?
Well, now it doesn’t have to be as that is the world of Django Away!
Teaser poster for Django Away! when it was still intended to be a follow-up to the web-series Hutchings' Half Minute.
Django is alone, walking with purpose in the desert. As he is alone, his purpose can sometimes almost seem like reality already. As he walks in his sand coloured clothes, the sun beats down. As he becomes more tired, the sun sinks in the sky. His body begins to waver. As the sun sets, his body finally gives out. The next morning Django leaps up and again begins his journey with purpose.
Well, you can’t walk forever and not come across some form of human life and today is the day where Django’s purpose will begin to be tested. On his way to achieve his purpose/the town where all takes place, he comes across three men. The first is a victim of the piece’s villain, Joe King. He tells Django of Joe’s cruel and compassionless Jokes and how it wounded him and killed his wife (thus beginning to illustrate the logic of the series). Django then fetches him some water in his hat from a nearby farm. But Django’s hat has a hole and is empty by the time he returns. The man chuckles and perks up a little at this accident. Django then uses the wounded man’s hat to fetch the water but trips just as he returns and soaks the man from head to foot. The wounded man bursts into fits of laughter at this and begins to feel much better (thus illustrating the healing power of the laughter Django elicits, that of farce, and the observational jokes of Joe King). Django parts company with the wounded man and goes on his way to thanks from the, now, less-wounded man.
As Django continues his journey, he enters more rural terrain. As he does, we see a nightmarish flashback of Django as a child being laughed at by leering adults. As Django walks down a dirt path, he is ambushed by the second man, a member of Joe’s gang called Spud, who intends to joke Django, rob him of his money and leave him on the roadside. Taking Spud at his word, he hands over the contents of his pockets: some gritty bits of fluff. This angers Spud who decides to execute him with lethal words (again, illustrating another element of this world’s logic). After trying to joke him to death, Spud panics as he realises Django is not only not hurt, but that he didn’t even flinch. After Spud exclaims incredulity at Django’s invincibility, Django tells him he cannot be joked because he has no sense of humour (and thus feels no pain from jokes). Spud, in shock, reels from this and makes good his escape and Django continues his journey.
In another of Django’s flashbacks, we see that young Django was crying with grief as he watched his Mentor die as onlookers laughed. Night arrives as Django walks down a path next to farmland. Seeing a lonely farmer, he asks him for directions to the nearest town. The farmer draws a map in the dirt and gives him directions laden with Western name-drops and in-jokes (although the farce of the directions being almost a full circle will serve as humour to those not acquainted with the genre). The nearest town is run by Joe King and Django sets off to find it.
In a hotel, Sylvia sweeps the floor as Madame Marigold tells her about the nature of work and employment. Django enters and Madame Marigold immediately attempts to guess what the nature of his visit is. When Django sees Sylvia, he knows he’s seen something very special. It’s more than love, he feels like he’s home (but he has no home so how can he know?) Sylvia feels something also, but becomes bashful as Madame Marigold continues with her hostess duties and books Django a room. Django enquires about work in the town to which Madame Marigold hints that Sylvia may be for “hire”. Django doesn’t pick up on this euphemism and is escorted to his room by Sylvia. Once in the room, Sylvia makes the bed in silence as Django watches. Both Sylvia and Django feel a romantic attraction as she works but neither breaks the silence. Sylvia leaves with a simple smile once the job is done, leaving Django alone with the torment of his past. In a longer flashback, we see Django’s Mentor, chest clutched in pain, smile at Django just before dying to the laughter of the onlookers. The Mentor tells Django “remember what I taught you”. Django wakes up from his flashback to the dawn of another day, and with it, the possibility of achieving his purpose.
Django sets about finding some work in the town. Django attempts to complete some simple tasks for an honest buck, but seems to botch each one. When he is given a big mound of ropes to untangle, he not only entangles them further, but manages to include himself in the mess. When he tries to loop the rope round a tree in the hope of pulling it all loose, he succeeds in pulling his own feet out from under himself. The townspeople smile and chuckle to which Django smiles and waves. Django is put to work digging a ditch, but each time he digs he throws the dirt over his shoulder and it lands back in the ditch. The townspeople chuckle. Django smiles and waves. The barman at the saloon shows Django how to line up glasses and pour several drinks all in one go. Django tries to pour the drinks in one go but the liquid drenches the bar as the bottle knocks the glasses onto the floor. The townspeople guffaw and raise their drinks to him. Django smiles and takes a drink from the bottle only to miss his mouth and cover his shirt with booze. Madame Marigold hands Django a basket of washing to hang out and points the way to the garden. Sylvia is already hanging out bed sheets. She sees Django’s silhouette cast upon the sheets. She gasps at his presence and parts the sheets. Django and Sylvia share a feeling of déjà vu and bashful romance. They talk of how they feel they’ve seen each other before but both know they have never met. Django begins to hang out the sheets but Sylvia notices his hands are dirty from his days work. Django graciously retires to his room to clean himself up.
As Django takes a bath, we see Spud creep up the stairs and into Django’s room. As Django baths, Spud bundles up all of Django’s clothes under his arm and tries to goad Django into a pursuit. Django follows him downstairs with only soap suds to cover him. Once downstairs he realises Spud’s intention as Joe King is there to meet him. Joe has heard of the new “funny man” in town and wants to get the measure of him.
In a full flashback, we see that Django’s Mentor died at the laughter of the onlookers after Django “booed” him. A tender moment of youthful exuberance caught the townspeople’s eye, with fatal results. Django flees the town with the sound of the laughter ringing in his ears. After a deep, grief stricken sleep, Django wakes. Whilst recalling his Mentor’s words of tutelage, he practices the physical craft of farce. As the words of his Mentor tells him of the two types of Jokers, the ones that tell the joke and the ones that are the joke, Django practices tripping on his own heel and digging dirt back into the ditch from which it came. As he remembers that there are two types of laughter, that which berates and that which celebrates, he practices missing glasses when he pours drinks and tangling rope around his own limbs. As he makes a hole in his hat for water to run out, he remembers asking his Mentor when he’ll be funny enough to be a Joker to which his Mentor replies “You won’t. You can only be the joke. You cannot be the laughter”. Django can now trip on his own heel so well, no one would ever know he did it on purpose.
As we rejoin Joe King trying to get the measure of a soap-sud-covered Django in the hotel, Django refuses to draw in the joke off. After Django asks Sylvia for a glass of milk from behind the bar, Joe King humours him and throws him some “cholo” denims to wear. As Django attempts to get dressed, his arms go through leg holes, his legs go through rips, and the townspeople chuckle. But Joe hasn’t given up on his game of cat and mouse just yet and tries to embarrass Django by describing him as a little scared child just awoken from a nightmare. But Django uses this colourful and detailed description against Joe by pointing out, with all the townspeople listening, that Joe talks from experience, not observation. To this the townspeople gasp! Joe, a little wrong footed, begins a tirade of more childish insults to which Django always answers “I know you are, but what am I?” The townspeople laugh at the jokes and at Joe King having his own jokes turned on him.
After this heated exchange, Joe is joked out and is left a drained mess as the townspeople are doubled up with hilarity. Django tells Joe that he cannot hurt a man who is praying for him. After Joe asks who he is, Django describes himself as various things Jokers use as ammunition: the mole that’s always covered in makeup, the funny walk you snigger at, the wind that blows hair into unflattering positions, the accident that everyone, at some point, has had. As Django continues, the townspeople’s laughter begins to peter out as Django’s seriousness begins to hit home. Django is the slack face muscles that hide a brilliant mind, he’s the doubt that made you feel the question you asked was stupid, he’s the swine runt dismissed by it’s mother. With the townspeople in a hushed awe, Django begins to sing a ballad of pain and compassion, Comedy Makes Me Cry. As he does so, the house band picks up on the song and plays along with him. The townspeople are touched by the performance as they know how it feels to live under the fear of laughter. Eyes well up. Lumps in throats are swallowed. Suddenly Django begins singing his song in double time, all enthusiasm and jiggery dancing. After a moment of bemusement, the band and townspeople join in the festivities and soon the whole room is a sight of joyous celebration. As he sings his song, Django thinks of his Mentor and begins crying. He looks at the townspeople and begins laughing again. The townspeople begin to notice this erratic behaviour and slowly stop to watch as Django falls to the floor in hysterics. The band falters and finally stops. Django momentarily composes himself to see what ceased the merriment. Seeing everyone looking at him, he begins crying again and gets to his feet, covering his face in shame. Just as the townspeople begin to take this at face value, Django again guffaws into laughter. The townspeople join in the laughter as Django reprises his up-tempo song for one last triumphant chorus. As the laughter fades, Django realises his work is done and makes to leave the hotel with a cry of “Django AWAY!” The cheering crowd parts for Django as he leaves. Then, out of the townspeople comes the cry of “Yeah, go away Django!” As the townspeople laugh, Django spins on his heels and sees that the room is empty. He hears the laughter, but there are no people there. He covers his tormented ears and grits his teeth as the laughter echoes around his mind.
As he writhes in pain, he awakes in a bed in contemporary times surrounded by all the characters from the story. Django’s real name is Daniel Hutchings and he is married to Sylvia, whose real name is Rose, and all his friends were very worried about him. As Rose calls in their four children for a hug, Daniel declares to be the happiest man alive.
Suddenly Daniel awakes again, but this time in pitch black. After fumbling around to turn on a light, we see that Daniel is actually still living in his Hutchings’ Half Minute coffin-sized attic and that he is no further on in his career than when he finished his Hutchings' Half Minute series. He screams in pain and torment as the camera zooms into his mouth and to black.