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The Man Who Makes People Laugh Uncontrollably

The cast:

CITY GENT
Terry Jones
BOSS
Michael Palin

The sketch:

(Cut to vox pop of city gent in a busy street.)

City Gent: Fivepenny please.

(Cut to stock film of audience rolling about with laughter and clapping. Cut back to vox pop. of city gent in street. He looks rather bewildered. He shrugs, turns and as he starts to walk away the camera pulls out. We see the city gent pass two colleagues.)

City Gent: Morning.

(They collapse laughing and roll about on the pavement. The city gent hurries on, and turns into the door of a big office block. Cut to the foyer. A hall porter is standing behind a counter.)

City Gent: Not so warm today, George.

A shriek of mirth from the porter who collapses behind the counter. The city gent continues walking into the lift. There are two other dry gents and one secretary already in the lift. The doors shut.)

Man's Voice: Good morning.

Secretary's Voice: Good morning.

City Gents: Voice Good morning.

(Shrieks of laughter. Cut to the doors of the lift on the third floor. Lift doors open and the city gent steps out rather quickly looking embarrassed. Behind him he leaves the three collapsed with mirth on the floor. The lift doors shut and the lift goes down again. Cut to interior of boss's office. A knock on the door. The boss is standing with his back to the door desperately preparing himself to keep a straight face.)

Boss: Come in, Mr. Horton.

(The city gent enters.)

City Gent: Morning, sir.

Boss: Do - do sit down. (he indicates chair, trying not to look at the city gent)

City Gent: Thank you, sir.

(The boss starts to snigger but suppresses it with feat of self-control.)

Boss: Now then Horton, you've been with us for twenty years, and your work in the accounts department has been immaculate (the city gent starts to speak; the boss suppresses another burst of laughter) No no - please don't say anything. As I say, your work has been beyond reproach, but unfortunately the effect you have on your colleagues has undermined the competence (almost starts laughing) ... has undermined the competence of this firm to such a point that I'm afraid that I've got no option but to sack you.

City Gent: (in a broken voice) I'm sorry to hear that, sir. (the boss giggles, gets up hastily and turning his back on city gent leans against the mantelpiece; his desire to laugh mounts through the next speech) It couldn't have come at a worse time. There's school fees for the two boys coming up, and the wife's treatment costing more now ... I don't know where the money's coming from as it is. And now I don't see any future ... I'd been hoping I'd be able to hang on here just for the last couple of years but... now ... I just want to go out and end it all.

(The boss cannot control himself any longer. He collapses in helpless mirth, falling all over the room· Immediately we cut to stock film of terrific audience laughter.)

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