Crowns for the king and princess.
blonde wig, wand, Digger carries a shovel, King and Troll carry cel phones in their pockets
Characters stand in a line in front of the audience. From left to right: Digger, Princess, King, Storyteller, Terrible Troll, Narrator
Narrator: In the days of yore, there was a gathering of yokels who lived over yonder. In other words, once upon a time, there were some people who lived far away. They lived in a kingdom called Nothingham -- mostly because nothing ever happened there. Butchers did nothing. Street sweepers did nothing. Road crews did nothing -- no surprise there. Even the king did nothing.
Princess: What are you doing, Dad?
King: Nothing. And you?
King: What's for dinner?
Narrator:Yes, it was nothing again, with nothing on the side and heaping bowls of frozen nothing for dessert. And that's the way it went on, day after day. One day, it so happened that a storyteller who had been travelling about from kingdom to kingdom collecting stories came to see the King of Nothingham.
Storyteller: Hi, there. I'm a storyteller. I've been travelling about from kingdom to kingdom collecting stories.
King: So I've heard.
Storyteller: I've got a neat story about this guy Rumplestiltskin. And here's one about some girl called Rapunzel. When I get a bunch more, I'm going to write a book and call them fairy tales and sell them for about fifteen thousand shekels to a major New York publisher.
Narrator: The storyteller said he'd like to include a story from Nothingham in the book.
Storyteller: I'd sure like to include a story from Nothingham in my book.
King: I know, I know, I heard the narrator. I hope your stories are more original than your dialogue.
Narrator: Now the king knew that nothing ever happened in Nothingham, but he dared not tell that to the storyteller. He wanted more than anything to make it into that book, and possibly get a piece of the action when it was turned into a made-for-TV movie. So, he struck upon a clever plan.
King: You wait here. (King exits, puts on wig, grabs wand and returns to his place) Hello, young ditch-digger (clears throat and changes to falsetto voice) Hello, young ditch-digger. I'm your fairy godmother.
King: Not really. I cheat at Monopoly sometimes. But I'm still your fairy godmother.
Narrator: With that, he told the ditch-digger to go to the castle, where he would find the beautiful princess, and that she would become his bride.
King: You must go to the castle, where you will find the beautiful princess, and she will become your bride.
Digger: Is there an echo in here?
Narator: The ditch-digger ran off, happy as a clam, but the wily king took a shortcut and, changing out of his fairy godmother disguise, was at the castle to meet the lad when he arrived.
(King exits, removes wig and wand, puts crown back on, and returns to his place)
Digger: Your Majesty, I am a lowly ditch-digger who has come to marry the princess.
King: What makes you think the likes of you can marry a princess?
Digger: My fairy godmother told me so.
King: (poking Storyteller with elbow) You getting this?
Storyteller: (writing) I got it, I got it.
Narrator: The Storyteller knew he was witnessing a scoop. He could almost see that book-signing at Barnes and Noble.
King: If your fairy godmother told you, it must be so. But first, you must prove that you are brave. You must rescue the princess from the Terrible Troll.
Digger: But she's right there. The Terrible troll doesn't have her.
King: he will. Just wait here. (King pulls out cel phone) Hello? Get me the Terrible Troll.
Troll: (pulls out cel phone) Speaking.
King: It's me, the king. how's it going? How's the wife and the little trolls?
Troll: Not bad.
Narrator: Skipping over this boring part, the King revealed his plan to the Terrible Troll.
King: Listen, I have a little business proposition for you, (King puts phone away and talks to Digger) Now, as I was saying, you must prove your bravery by rescuing my daughter from the troll.
King: Right on cue. I mean, Oh, no! It's the Terrible Troll!
Troll: All right, Princess, you are my prisoner. Come along quietly.
Princess: That's what you think, bub. Lay one hand on me, and I'll show you how I won a black belt in my self-defense class.
Troll: Um, wait. I just wanted to tell you about the sale today at K-Mart. There's a blue-light special on tiaras.
Princess: Tiaras? What are we waiting for!
(Princess and Troll exit)
King: (poking Storyteller with elbow) You getting this?
Storyteller: (writing) How do you spell 'Arrrrrhhhhhh?'
Narrator: The ditch-digger ran after the troll, smote him with a stick, stole back the beautiful princess, and returned her to the palace. (pause) I said, "The ditch-digger ran after the troll..."
Digger: Huh? Oh, yeah. Be right back. (exits, but returns a few seconds later) What was I supposed to do again?
Narrator: Smite the troll with a stick and bring back the princess.
Digger: Right! (exits)
(From offstage we hear Digger yelling "Take that, terrible troll! Whack! Whack! Whack!" Digger and Princess then return to their places)
Digger: I defeated the troll and brought back your daughter, sire.
King: Now there's just one more thing you need to do before marrying my daughter. You must go out into the world and make your fortune. (King exites, puts on wig and grabs wand, enters and returns to his place) There's a chest of gold under the biggest tree in the royal forest.
Digger: Cool! But how am I going to get it out?
King: If only you had something to dig with. Like...a shovel?
Digger: (Looks at shovel in his hand) Oh, right (Digger exits)
King: It's a good thing brains aren't a requirement for this story.
Princess: I didn't know there was a chest of gold under the biggest tree in the royal forest.
King: There will be. (King exits. He returns without wig and wand, wearing crown. He pokes Storyteller with elbow) And then he found a chest of gold under a tree, married the princess, and they lived happly ever after.
Storyteller: We'll see.
King: (looks at watch) Should be here any minute.
Narrator: They waited and waited and waited. Finally, after six weeks, a messenger came to the castle to bring the news.
(Troll enters and goes to his place)
Troll: Hey, King.
Narrator: The messenger looked an awful lot like the Terrible Troll.
Troll: You know that young lad with the chest of gold you're waiting for? Well, he's not coming. He met a milkmaid from Altoona on the way to the castle and ran off with her.
Storyteller: Sorry, King, I can't write a story without a happy ending. Too bad. You had a good one going for you there. I especially like the fairy godmother angle. It gives me an idea for a story about a girl with a pumpkin and a glass slipper. This'll make me a fortune!
(All exit except Narrator)
Narator: With that, the king flew into such a rage that he hurled his throne out of the window and, wouldn't you know it? It landed on an evil witch. She cast a spell on the king and changed him into a homely little duck. Upon seeing this, the Storyteller got another idea and wrote a fine little fairy tale that sold for twenty thousand dollars. He called it, The Ugly Duck King. And they all...well, the Storyteller at least, lived happily ever after. The End. (Narrator exits)
Adapted 2011-2022 by Linda Campanella from a Fractured Fairy Tale, A. J. Jacobs, 1997
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