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Theatre / Monky Business

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I'm my Brother's keeper!

Monky Business (not to be confused with a certain Marx Brothers movie) is a 2003 musical comedy by Todd Mueller, Hank Boland, and Gregg Opelka. The brothers of St Bernard's Monastery have been given a 30-day deadline to raise $250,000 before their beloved monastery is to be razed and turned into a casino. The bad news is, 29 days have passed. The good news is, they still have one trick left to try - a telethon on radio station WGOD, which will include five minutes of nationwide airtime for the merry monks to make their appeal.


But little do Abbot Costello, Brother Lee Love, Brother Brooks and Brother Forte realize that one of their number has other plans. The new arrival, Brother Clarence, is a Devil in Disguise who's out to earn his horns by sinking the fundraiser ... even if it means putting up with a scratchy burlap robe in the meantime.

Sometimes referred to as the male Nunsense.

This work contains examples of:

  • As the Good Book Says...: Numerous Biblical references, quotes, and parodies, particularly in the songs "Cheerful Giver," "My Brother's Keeper," and "The Greatest Book on Earth."
  • Blasphemous Boast: After his miracle, and with Brother Clarence's urging, Brother Forte begins to offer autographed Bibles as a pledge reward ... autographed by Brother Forte, naturally.
  • Break the Haughty: After spending most of Act Two believing that he's literally God's gift to the monastery, Brother Forte is framed as a fraud by Brother Clarence. To Brother Forte's horror, the callers rapidly abandon the pledge drive.
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  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Abbot Costello has a kooky sense of humor and always seems one step away from utter silliness. But when things look darkest during the telethon, he's also the one to teach a quiet lesson about their namesake, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and the need to carry on faith even if it appears you won't get what you want.
  • Celibate Hero: Brother Lee Love is a variation: he made his vows and he intends to keep them, but it doesn't stop him from quietly thinking how nice it would be if he could set it all aside and have an actual girlfriend ... or even if he could make sense of why he's supposed to do without.
  • Deliberately Painful Clothing: The plain, uncomfortable burlap robe is celebrated in the song "Mohair Rag" as this:
    Yes, mohair, not faux hair,
    It's ugly and it's scratchy and you look like you're in drag ...
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  • Divide and Conquer: When an unexpected miracle foils his first plan, Brother Clarence starts turning the once-lovable Brother Forte into a prima donna, to the extreme annoyance of Brother Brooks and Brother Lee Love.
  • Divine Intervention: Act One ends with the nationwide broadcast starting in 10 seconds, and every monk out of commission except for the mute Brother Forte who miraculously regains his voice just in time to go on the air! Act Two introduces a quieter one in which God has been filling in for the missing radio station manager all along and helps them clear the last little distance to their goal once the brothers show they've learned the necessary lessons.
  • Doorstop Baby: Brother Lee Love was left on the doorstep of St Bernard's monastery and taken in by Abbot Costello.
  • Evil Gloating: Brother Clarence's song "Satan's Place" and its reprise are all about this.
    • In addition, the casino developer phones the station to gloat about the monks' lack of progress and remind them to have everything cleared out of the building in the morning.
  • The Hermit: Brother Clarence's cover story is that he was a cave hermit prior to living in the monastery.
  • It's All About Me: Brother Forte falls into this trap in Act Two, with some help from Brother Clarence.
  • Mood Whiplash: The musical opens with the monks entering by candlelight, chanting Latin ... and suddenly bursting into an "I've Got Rhythm"-style song and dance number.
    • Later, a radio mystery builds up the tale of an unexpected visitor to the monastery - who turns out to be looking for directions to the Gatehouse Bar & Grill.
  • Offscreen Crash: After discovering that their starting $15,000 has been reduced to $14,800 because of the radio station's security deposit.
BROTHER BROOKS: But we'll be getting that back, won't we?
Offstage crash
  • On a Scale from One to Ten: The monks start to debate about how to rank The Bible's miracles on a 1 to 10 scale.
  • Product Placement: The monks frequently plug several fictitious products - literally in the case of Charlie's Chaw, the chaw of choice for choosy chewers. (Sound of ringing spittoon.)
  • Pun: Every single character name.
  • Script Swap: Abbot Costello mixes up the commercial spots for Charlie's Chaw and Peabody Toupees in midstream.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Latin "hymn" that opens the musical is actually from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
    • One caller, a Jew from Florida, declares "Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, I'd like to give you a million dollars! (Excitement) But I can only give fifty. I'd give more ... if I were a rich man."
    • Brother Clarence, naturally, is a call back to another Clarence with a more heavenly mission.
    • The "David and Forte" ventriloquist act includes a Latin translation of Groucho Marx's elephant-in-my-pajamas gag.
    • A warning that the new casino will include a pool hall in the cellar begins to derail into the patter of "Ya Got Trouble" before Brother Brooks gets everyone back on point.
  • Sleazy Politician: During the telethon, the mayor calls the monks on the air ... to tell the listeners that he thinks the proposed casino would be a huge economic boost to the community and that he thinks the redevelopment should go right ahead.
  • Stock Sound Effects: The mute Brother Forte runs the sound effects table, which includes all the radio classics, such as creaking doors, mysterious footsteps, and so on.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Brother Clarence puts a little something into the buck pies that have been provided for the telethon, to guarantee that the monks will be helplessly sick when their five minutes of national air time arrives.
  • Telethon: The brothers need to raise nearly $250,000 (the bake sale picked up a few bucks) in one night, courtesy of local radio station WGOD.
  • Time Stands Still: The Devil gives Brother Clarence the ability to freeze time with a finger snap, but he can't change anything in the stopped world - it's only usable for buying time to think, gloat, or talk with his boss.
  • Ventriloquism: As part of the radio telethon, Brother Forte stages a ventriloquist act, the "David and Forte Show." Yes, that's the mute Brother Forte.
    One's a dummy, the other's a mute,
    Put 'em both together and it's awfully cute!
  • Vow of Celibacy: Brother Lee Love's solo, "Celibacy," covers this promise and how hard it is for a young monk to keep.

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