A Birthday Joke for Bob Newhart and Freddie Mercury, born September 5

Bob Newhart and Freddie Mercury walk into a bar. The bartender asks what they’ll have. Bob blinks several times, pondering, and is about to answer when Freddie leaps onto the bar and with as dynamic and dramatic a response as anyone’s ever given a bartender, replies:

“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see. I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy because I’m…”

Others at the bar now join in, startling Bob:

“…easy come, easy go, a little high, little low. Any way the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me… to me.”

Thinking Freddie’s done, Bob opens his mouth to order, but is again cut off:

“Mama, just killed a man; put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he’s dead. Mama, life had just begun, but now I’ve gone and thrown it all away. Mama, ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-oo…”

Bob arches his eyebrows and checks his watch.

On the bar, Freddie reaches out, his hand clutched in a fist, his eyes looking deep into the dark of his past… into his mother’s eyes:

“…Didn’t mean to make you cry. If I’m not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters…”

Freddie pulls his fist to his chest, containing his pain.

Bob shrugs and takes a metal dish of peanuts from the bar and begins to eat them.

“…Too late, my time has come, sends shivers down my spine…”

Freddie spins and stomps his foot hard…

…right in front of Bob, who drops the metal dish, sending it clang-clang-clanging to the floor.

“…Body’s aching all the time. Goodbye, everybody; I’ve got to go. Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth. Mama, ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-oo… I don’t want to die. I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.”

Bob stares at Freddie: That makes two of them.

Freddie launches himself from the bar, landing on a table, his face lit electric blue from a neon sign.

“…I see a little silhouetto of a man…”

Everyone in the place — except Bob — begins trading lines with Freddie:

“Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the fandango? Thunderbolt and lightning: very very frightening me. Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo Figaro… Magnifico-o-o-o…”

“But I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me…”

“He’s just a poor boy from a poor family. Spare him his life from this monstrosity. Easy come easy go.”

It grows more dramatic, Freddie and the barflies alternating lines, back and forth and back and forth, Bob stock still, his eyes darting about as though he were trapped in a pinball machine.

“Will you let me go?”

“Bismillah!”

“No, we will not let you go.”

“Let him go.”

“Bismillah!”

“We will not let you go.”

“Let him go.”

“Bismillah!”

“We will not let you go.”

“Let me go.”

“Will not let you go.”

“Let me go.”

“Never let you go.”

Freddie strides from table to table:

“Let me go. Never let me go-ooo-ooo. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go. Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.”

Meanwhile, Bob has found a copy of the local paper and is reading the sports page. The paper is RIPPED from his hands, Bob’s eyes going wide as Freddie stares him down:

“So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?”

Sheepishly, Bob (barely) shakes his head no.

“So you think you can love me and leave me to die?”

Bob gestures plaintively with his palms up: What?

“Oh baby, can’t do this to me baby. Just gotta get out…”

Freddie looks to the room, pointing beyond, to the door, to the world beyond the door:

“…just gotta get right out of here.”

Bob exhales and stares, glancing up at Freddie, as if to say “Who’s stoppin’ ya?”

“Oh yeah… Oh yeah…”

Freddie steps into a pin-spot as a hush falls over the room.

“Nothing really matters, anyone can see… Nothing really matters… nothing really matters… to me.”

Bob rolls his eyes: Yeah… right…

Freddie and the entire bar — except for Bob — settle into one last:

“Any way the wind blows…”

Freddie vaults from the bar, landing seated on his stool, spent, his breathing the only sound as the bartender places a beer in front of him.

Bob glances at Freddie, at the crowd, at Freddie, at the bartender. Bob blinks twice, then once more. And, then, after an additional pause, just to make sure all’s clear… finally, Bob says:

“I — I’ll just — I’ll just have a ginger ale.”

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