I Got the Shaft
A sketch featuring the bravest, baddest private dick in the city.
The following is a stage adaptation of a sketch I wrote for a radio program I created and produced in my college years. I'm posting it here for the sake of anyone who wants it. I, the author of this work, hereby give you full permission to perform this in whatever capacity you desire, provided you give me due credit as its author.
Derek Harris: 34 years old
Sylvia Jones: 32 years old
Beth Wright: 35 years old
John Shaft: one real tough dude
Gary Dunham: 33 years old
Gary Dunham’s house
SETTING: A well-furnished living room in an affluent part of Chicago—nothing too gaudy. A party is in full swing.
AT RISE: SYLVIA and BETH stand center stage, drinks in hand, in the middle of a conversation.
SYLVIA : ...and then Stephanie had the nerve to imply that I used a cake mix!
BETH : She didn’t!
SYLVIA : She did! And I told her straight to her face that she shouldn’t be talking about me using a cake mix when she knows damn well she buys “her” famous pineapple upside-down cake at Jewel!
BETH : You didn’t!
SYLVIA : Oh, you better believe I did! I’m not gonna stand around and let my honor be insulted!
BETH: Right on, baby! (beat) Hey, wait a sec. I was at your house when you were making that cake. You did use a mix.
SYLVIA : Well, yeah, but she didn’t have to know that.
(DEREK and GARY enter, chatting quietly. SYLVIA notices and nudges BETH.)
SYLVIA : Hey, Beth! Look, it’s Derek! Oh, what a trooper. Going through a horrible divorce and still helping his friend have a good time on his birthday.
BETH : I know, right?
GARY : Well, I gotta go to the can. Catch ya in a little bit. I love you, bro.
DEREK : Love you, too, bro.
(GARY exits. DEREK starts heading toward BETH and SYLVIA.)
SYLVIA : Oh, he’s coming! Whatever you do, do not mention the divorce.
BETH : Right.
(DEREK now stands before SYLVIA and BETH.)
DEREK : Hey, guys.
BETH: Hey, Derek.
SYLVIA : Hey.
BETH : So, how’s the divorce going?
SYLVIA : (smacks BETH’s arm) Dude!
BETH : I’m sorry! I panicked!
DEREK : It’s fine, it’s fine. I don’t mind talking about it. It’s turning out just like I thought it would: she’s getting the goldmine, I’m getting the shaft.
SYLVIA : That’s terrible.
DEREK : Not really. Shaft is a pretty cool guy. Great company.
SYLVIA : Uh...Derek, what are you talking about?
DEREK : Shaft. John Shaft. You know, the famous detective.
BETH : You mean you got a copy of the movie “Shaft” in the divorce settlement?
DEREK : Oh, no. I got the real guy.
BETH : The real guy?
DEREK : Yeah!
SYLVIA : Derek, Shaft is a fictional character.
DEREK : No, he’s not. He’s real. Would you like to meet him?
BETH : Yeah!
SYLVIA : Beth!
BETH : What?
DEREK : (calling out) Hey, Shaft! Come here and meet some friends of mine!
(SYLVIA and BETH look to where DEREK is calling. A beat.)
BETH : I don’t see him.
DEREK : He’s a little shy. He gets that way about meeting new people sometimes. You know how it is when you’re a private eye. Anybody could be out to get you.
SYLVIA : Yeah, I can understand that. So, how did you...”get” him, anyway?
DEREK : It was part of the settlement. And I couldn’t be happier! I mean, sure, Josie’s got the house, the car, and the kids, but I’ve got the bravest, baddest private dick in the city. Yeah. Man, Shaft is one bad mother—
SYLVIA and BETH : Shut your mouth!
DEREK : But I’m talking about Shaft.
SYLVIA and BETH : (look to each other briefly, then nod/shrug with approval) Then we can dig it.
DEREK : Cool. So, anyway, life is good.
SYLVIA : That’s good to know. Listen, if you’re ever available for lunch or something, we’d love to hang out with you.
DEREK : Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.
SYLVIA : Well, it’s been nice talking with you, Derek. See you later!
DEREK : Bye, Sylvia. Bye, Beth.
(SYLVIA and BETH exit. As DEREK looks on, John SHAFT, dressed all in black with a leather jacket and shades, enters coolly. He approaches DEREK and taps him on the shoulder. DEREK turns to him.)
DEREK : Hey, Shaft! You just missed my friends. If you want, I can call them over—
SHAFT : When are you finally gonna admit that I’m just a figment of your imagination?
DEREK : You are not a figment of my imagination! You’re as real as the nose on my face!
SHAFT : Really? Then why is Gary looking at you like you’re crazy?
DEREK : He is not looking at me like—
SHAFT : (sternly) He can’t see me, Derek. No one here can.
DEREK : Well, I...you see...well...shut up!
(DEREK exits in a huff. SHAFT exits in the opposite direction, shaking his head.)
(END OF SKETCH)