It seemed too good to be true; Randy Roland, the favourite comedian of both me and my Mum, playing the Dromedar Theatre on the very day of Mum’s birthday. I had bought our tickets months in advance, yet throughout all those months, I couldn’t help but feel that it was too good to be true. The show is going to get cancelled for whatever reason, I kept thinking as I counted down the months, it’s going to get cancelled and I bet they won’t allow refunds either. It didn’t get cancelled, however, yet on the day of the show I almost wish it had.
The birthday had been going swimmingly –Mum and I had a meal at the Obese Orangutan restaurant, where she was even presented with a cake, and then off to the theatre we went, both of us sitting down with a lager. I gulped most of my lager down before the show even started, and almost threw it all up once I saw who else was in the theatre.
There, just a couple of rows in front of me was a familiar head with a pair of familiar pointed ears. I told myself, no it can’t be, he’s too grumpy for something like this. It’s someone wearing a Batman mask because he thought it’d be good for a larf. Maybe I was just imagining him – the lager I drank in the theatre wasn’t my first beverage of the evening. I bit my lip, rubbed my eyes, and he was still there. Karl the Kangaroo, come to watch Randy Roland.
You’ve heard of Karl the Kangaroo, haven’t you? You know, from the poem? He owns Kangaroo Games, which publish such popular mobile games like Smashy Mash and Kittycat Town, which is a free game where you make a town for cats, but all the best-looking buildings cost actual money. You may have heard of him battling the Lemon Possum, who, until recently, I thought was a villain in a dentist’s comic book. Well, if you’ve heard of him, you know what a miserable miser he is. If I may quote that poem: He silenced chatter, and birthday greetings, The room would turn cold, When he went to his meetings. That pretty much sums him up.
And I work for him. I’m a copywriter, writing all the text about why the extra lives for Smashy Mash or a mansion for Kittycat Town is a wise use of your hard-earned money.
So when Randy came on, it was Karl I focussed on, inwardly praying he didn’t turn around and notice me. Mum didn’t notice him, and even whispered, ‘Why aren’t you laughing?’ at me. Karl didn’t seem to be laughing, however, so I thought if I did, he would turn around and fire or demote me on the spot. Mum wanted me to laugh though, so I thought of a compromise and simply smiled widely at every punchline.
During the interval, Mum and I left to go the toilets and grab another lager, while Karl remained in his seat. I almost said, ‘Thank God’ out loud. While Mum and I discussed the show, I talked about how funny Randy was, how he was still on top form and the story about the caterpillars, all I could think of was the fact that Karl was a talking kangaroo in a world of humans yet the only reason I stared at him was because he was my boss.
The interval ended and we returned to our seats. Karl hadn’t moved an inch. In fact, I even wondered if he had fallen asleep. Most of us in the offices thought Karl never slept what with the big dark circles under his eyes.
As soon as Randy returned to the stage, the shock of seeing my boss on my evening out faded away, and I was finally able to focus on the show and his story about what he found in the cinema toilets. I snickered at the jokes, and Karl all but vanished from my mind.
That is, until near the end of the show, when Randy had a look over the audience and yelled, ‘Is that who I think it is?’
He noticed Karl. He urged Karl to stand up, and Karl did so.
‘I’m not really here for you,’ Karl cried out, ‘I’m more here for the Dromedar itself.’
‘Ah, you can take the kangaroo out of the theatre, but you can’t take the theatre out of the kangaroo.’
‘And you can take the mickey out of people,’ Karl replied, ‘but you can’t make it entertaining.’
Randy actually cackled at Karl’s remark and yelled ‘Come on up onto the stage’, to which Karl said ‘Gladly’ and hopped towards the stage. He actually hopped; a rare sight indeed.
Once on the stage, Karl looked over the audience and said, ‘A large turn-out. They must have known I was coming.’ Then another rare sight: he smiled.
‘Oh come on,’ said Randy, ‘that’s not a nice thing to say! You’re Karl the Dancing Kangaroo! The Joyful Little Joey! This isn’t befitting behaviour for such a cute little animal!’
‘Ah yes,’ said Karl, leaning into Randy’s microphone, ‘without this theatre, I admit, I wouldn’t be where I am. You see, my mother didn’t care much for me, so I danced for the people in order to get some food. And I must say I was a fine dancer as well. In fact, word of me spread far and wide, so then I performed for a circus briefly before I was purchased by this theatre.’
‘I remember when they’d put you in the pantomimes!’ Randy said, ‘Do you remember when Dick Whittington had a kangaroo instead of a cat? Or when Widow Twankey had a kangaroo deliver laundry to her?’
Karl sighed. ‘Yes. What I was actually getting to was when I performed for this theatre, that was when I learned to speak English, when I learnt about the technology you humans had created. I learnt about your computers, your games, and with the money I got from my performances, I made my own games…’
‘Well, until the theatre stopped using you because you weren’t a cute little joey anymore.’ At that, the audience laughed, well, all the audience except me.
‘Well, after that,’ Karl growled, ‘I made my money through winning fights, since us kangaroos are born fighters, so I’d watch my P’s and Q’s if I were you.’
‘Karl the Kangaroo, everyone!’ When Karl returned to his seat, I told myself that since I went to this show only for a laugh and ended up learning something about my boss, then the show was better than I thought it’d be. Still, I felt a chill as I left the theatre, and I felt it again when Karl called me to his office the following Monday.
He sat at his desk, his arms folded, his eyes narrowed. ‘I know you were at the comedy show,’ he said.
All I could reply with was, ‘I was.’
‘You were there when I spoke about my relationship with the theatre, and that person tried to be humorous.’
‘You’re an adequate copywriter,’ he then said, ‘so how would you like to be a ghostwriter as well?’
I said nothing.
‘Talking about my life on stage made me want to publish a book about my life, but I’m far too busy to write it. That’s where you come in. I’ll tell you more of my life and you write it down, and you may find a nice bonus with your name on it. Just don’t start calling me “The Joyful Little Joey” or…well, remember how I made my money after my dancing career ended.’