Darth Maul and the Jedi Talent Show
art and story by Padawan Zol-Tan
His Supreme Majesty George Lucas the Magnificent, May He Live For A Really Long Time owns the boys, the Jedi, and all that. Monty Python owns the original Dead Parrot Sketch, Joe Raposo wrote "It's Not Easy Being Green," Chekhov wrote "The Seagull," "I Hope I Get It" ("I can't 1-2-3...") is from A Chorus Line by Edward Kleban and Marvin Hamlisch, and Shakespeare's got dibs on "Henry V." Thanks to them all for their inspiration, and to Jedimom for her help and many of the ideas.
The door to Maul's apartment flew open. "Go away," mumbled Maul from the bedroom, pulling a pillow over his head. It was way too early to deal with Sidious.
"Put your clothes on, Maul," said Sidious a little reluctantly. "We're going to breakfast at the Jedi Academy."
"The wha...?" asked Maul groggily. Had he heard right?
"The Jedi Academy is having a promotional breakfast to arouse interest in their forthcoming variety show. You will attend the breakfast and audition for the show. Your last theatrical experience was a good rage-honing exercise, but it did little for your deceptive skills. Be in the speeder in five minutes." He stalked out again.
Maul dressed quickly, grumbling to himself about Sidious, the Jedi, and his lack of caffeine. As he stumbled down the hallway to the elevator, he realized that his shoes were on the wrong feet and that there was a signature My Apprentice hairball in his T-shirt, which was inside out.
By the time the elevator reached the ground floor, Maul had straightened out his clothing with only a few minor rips in his shirt from his horns. He climbed into the speeder looking like a rabid sleep-deprived rancor. He could tell it was going to be one of those days.
The cafeteria of the Jedi Academy was half-full of noisy coffee-buzzed students. Maul found Kenobi seated alone with his back to the crowd at a table in a far corner and plopped down across from him.
"H'lo," said Kenobi, sounding as if he could use a little caffeine himself. "My da make you come?"
"Mmmph," said Maul.
"Wanna bagel?" asked Kenobi, motioning towards the toaster a few feet from the table.
"Mmmph," said Maul.
Kenobi rose, took two bagels from a pile next to the toaster, popped them in, and returned to his seat. "So," he asked, "you planning on auditioning?" Maul nodded miserably. "Good. I've got an idea for a skit we could do together." He handed Maul a few stapled pieces of paper.
The words blurred in front of Maul's sleep-deprived eyes, but he could pick up something about a dead womp rat, some sort of comedic sketch. "You want me to do comedy?" he asked, wondering if Kenobi had been hitting the Perkium again.
"Why not?" demanded the padawan. "This skit kicks ass. Read it."
Their bagels popped out of the toaster with a loud kachunk! Behind Obi-Wan there was the sound of chairs hitting the ground and about a dozen lightsabers igniting as the third year padawans leapt to their feet. Kenobi rolled his eyes. Definitely not Perkium, thought Maul.
Sidious materialized behind him, looking at the paper in his hand. "Ah," he said smugly. "Comedy. Excellent choice, my young ward. I look forward to your audition." Maul's head hit the table with a dull thud, leaving some nice horn-marks.
There was the tooth-grinding sound of a microphone held a little too close to the speaker, and the padawans sat down sheepishly, pretending nothing had happened and riveting their attention on the head of the cafeteria.
"Thank you all for coming, I do," said Yoda into the microphone as it screeched again. "The third Jedi Community Theater production of the season, this will be. Like to see you all audition, we would. Sponsoring this Senator Palpatine is, so give him a round of applause, you should." The Jedi applauded enthusiastically.
Figures, thought Maul.
"Decide on what to perform, you should. This Friday auditions are, so choose soon you must if wish to perform you do. Sorry we are about the coffee machine, but broken it is. Enjoy your breakfasts anyway, you should." The microphone gave one last halfhearted screech before it was unplugged.
Life hates me, thought Maul.
By the time auditions came, Maul was horrified to find himself strangely enthusiastic as he sat in the crowded little community theater, awaiting his and Kenobi's turn. He wasn't about to say it to Kenobi's face, but their skit actually was pretty good--lots of ranting and raving, even though Sidious had "persuaded" Maul to let Obi-Wan have the really cool role. All Maul got to do was--Dark Side forbid--act innocent. But there still was a certain appeal. He had even studied his lines a little, when no one was looking.
The auditions went almost smoothly, even though Maul thought he would have to rise up and slay the whole bunch of them when Yoda started singing "Easy Being Green It Is Not" and getting all dewy-eyed, and again when the third-year padawans lined up for a song-and-dance number that turned out to be more of a mumble-and-trip.
You'd think talent shows might have something to do with talent, thought Maul.
Kenobi overheard him. Foolish you, he thought back.
The next day the cast list went up. Maul and Kenobi had, of course, gotten in, being the only people there with anything resembling talent. Maul's eyes scrolled down the rest of the list.
Mace Windu, Monologue from "Henry V"
Qui-Gon Jinn, Monologue from Chekhov's "The Seagull"
Yoda, Song - "It's Not Easy Being Green"
Maul wondered if life could possibly hate him any more than it was hating him now. It could; the third year padawans, through some supreme act of bribery, had made it into the show, and, according to the dressing room assignment list at the bottom of the paper, would occupy the star dressing rooms along with Yoda, who couldn't make it down the stairs to the chorus rooms. Maul shuddered at the thought of being cooped up in those slimy refrigerator boxes with Qui-Gon and Mace. He could feel his rage and hatred becoming complete.
After endless weeks of listening to Yoda screw up the lyrics of his song, Qui-Gon chew the scenery, Mace ask about his bloody motivation, and watching the padawans trip over each other's feet trying to remember the painfully simple choreography of their dance, performance night came.
Having abandoned the dressing rooms in utter disgust, Maul sat in the wings, trying to trip the techies as they walked by. So far it wasn't working well, although he had almost mind whammied one of them into playing trapeze artist on the fly ropes, but Yoda had caught the guy and kicked him out before things really got interesting.
Eventually, the curtain went up and Yoda walked onto the stage, sighed mournfully, and launched into his song, butchering the lyrics with an expertise born of long years of practice. I'm going to kick his stupid little puppy-dog eyes right out his fuzzy little ears, thought Maul happily, pouring the contents of his twentieth Pixie Stick into his mouth and Force-shooting the folded up wrapper at the back of the stage manager's head.
After Yoda finished and shuffled back offstage, still slightly dewy-eyed, Mace came onstage, positioning himself stiffly inside the scope of the spotlight. Maul gritted his teeth as the Jedi took a deep breath and launched mercilessly into his monologue.
"If we are marked to die," drawled Mace, "we are enow to do our country loss..."
Maul thought his brain was about to start dripping out his ears from lack of stimulation. A muffled giggle from someone in the audience, accompanied by a slight tremor in the Force, awoke him from his impending stupor. He looked out onto the stage and his jaw dropped.
There, meandering slowly to center stage, was one of the huge resident cockroaches. It paused a few feet away from the Marty Stouffer wanna-be who was still trundling obliviously through his monologue. The roach raised itself up onto its hind legs and waved charismatically at the audience.
Maul looked into the wings on the opposite side of the stage and was unsurprised to see Kenobi staring calmly at the roach as it began softshoeing, much to the amazement of the audience, who were by this time all turning interesting colors from trying not to laugh out loud. A dimple was beginning to manifest itself in Obi-Wan's cheek.
"But if it be a sin to covet... honor..." Windu trailed off at last, vaguely aware that this speech wasn't supposed to be funny. He stared at the audience like a stoned bantha. Maul's sides ached terribly and his eyes were beginning to tear up. You are hot shit! he thought at Kenobi as the roach bowed dramatically and swept offstage like an insectoid Baryshnikov.
The audience burst into applause and Windu looked puzzled into the wings. Maul shrugged as innocently as he could manage. Windu bowed, flattered and completely unaware that behind him a tiny diva was softshoeing an encore.
Kenobi--one, Maul--zero, said a voice in Maul's head.
Of course you realize this means war, he answered smoothly.
Maul crept silently into the star dressing room and hastily scanned his surroundings. Qui-Gon had already started his monologue, and Maul didn't have much time. He finally cornered his quarry; a box of KFC (Kessel Fried Chicken) half-hidden behind the costume rack. He had seen Yoda smuggling it in before performance, probably so he could flaunt it later when everyone else was starving. Maul suppressed an evil chuckle as he grabbed the chicken and dashed from the room.
Maul Force-leapt up onto the catwalk, Yoda's chicken in one hand and his own Sony boombox with a sound effects CD he'd stolen from the sound booth in the other. He positioned himself directly above the unsuspecting ham on the stage.
Maul, what the hell are you doing? demanded Kenobi's mind-voice. Maul grinned maniacally into the wings and turned on the boombox, at maximum volume. Golden eyes gleaming in anticipation, he opened the KFC box, releasing the smell of grease and meat, but suppressing the powerful urge to scarf it all then and there. He held it out over the railing of the catwalk.
"I'm a seagull," said Qui-Gon wistfully. "No, that's wrong. Remember you shot a seagull once?" You sure did, thought Maul. The audience was bombarded at once with the sound of frantic blaster fire, and a small crispy bird dropped from the sky, landing with a satisfying splat! at the feet of a very stunned Qui-Gon. There was absolute silence in the theater, then an old--and supremely pissed voice cried, "My dinner that is!"
I am hot shit, thought Maul.
Maul descended quietly from the catwalk among the chaos the cast was creating, soaking up their rage. On his way back to his dressing room, he nearly tripped over Kenobi, who was curled up on the floor, shaking helplessly with laughter.
"Please lend us a hand so little Obi-Wan can get the help he needs," remarked Maul.
"Sh--gasp--Shut up!" wheezed Kenobi.
"Maul--two, Kenobi--one," said Maul.
"Two?!" cried Obi-Wan, still struggling to regain his composure.
"Sure. One for Yoda, one for Qui-Gon."
"You are going down," said Kenobi, standing up shakily, but bursting into helpless laughter again as Qui-Gon stormed offstage, dragging the greasy remains of Yoda's dinner with him.
Maul smirked. He'd never known the theater could be this entertaining.
Maul, after being chewed out by both Qui-Gon and Yoda, as well as numerous stagehands, returned to his dressing room in a state of Sithly bliss. He whipped out a well-earned Pixie Stick with a flourish, tore off the top, and poured the contents into his mouth.
"Gik!" gasped Maul as he realized that the stuff in the Pixie Stick was not Pixie Stick stuff. It tasted, in fact, surprisingly like garlic powder. He spat the stuff out and ran frantically to the sink to rinse out his mouth, but still the Force-awful taste of raw garlic wouldn't go away. He wished he'd remembered to swipe Yoda's coke along with his chicken.
Maul sensed a familiar presence in the doorway and whirled to face Kenobi, who was leaning casually up against the doorframe with the same angelic grin My Apprentice gave when Maul caught her with suspicious Pizza-Box Lifeform pieces dangling from her jaws.
"What's wrong, Maul?" asked Kenobi in a sickeningly sweet voice reminiscent of his Perkium days. "I thought you liked garlic." Maul could only glare back at him.
"We're even," said the padawan.
Maul grinned. "Let's kiss and make up," he suggested.
Kenobi made a face. Maul chuckled evilly.
Maul stood in the wings, trying not to fidget as the tonally challenged third-year padawans finished their song and dance number. They were right, he reflected. They certainly couldn't 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Already two of them had forgotten the choreography and the little green one on the end would probably have one helluva black eye in about an hour.
Maul reviewed his lines in his head. Much to his own surprise, as well as Sidious's, he had actually practiced them with something akin to dedication, and had even come close to the innocent look the role required. He tugged at the tie around his neck, still not believing he'd let himself get talked into wearing it.
The padawans finished and left the stage, much to the relief of the audience, who applauded just because they wouldn't have to watch them anymore. The lights went out and Maul moved onto the stage and ducked behind the table brought out for him by the techies.
Break a leg, said Obi-Wan.
Maul smirked. The lights came back on and Maul heard Kenobi's footfalls accompanied by the sound of something heavy being dragged across the stage in a plastic bag.
"I wish to register a complaint!" Kenobi's voice rang out over the audience. He paused, then walked over to the table. "Hello, miss?"
Here we go, thought Maul. "What do you mean, 'miss'?" asked Maul, rising fluidly from behind the table. There was a slight titter from the audience.
Obi-Wan paused. "I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!"
"We're closing for lunch," Maul replied in a calm silky baritone.
"Never mind that, my lad," answered Kenobi, beginning to look peeved. "I wish to complain about this womp rat that I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique." Kenobi reached into his bag and pulled out by the tail the most hideous creature (other than Sidious in drag) that Maul had ever seen. It was about 6 feet long with a long naked tail and mangy-looking beige fur. It had a long face with huge teeth and glazed-over beady little eyes. Its tongue was hanging out, its little clawed feet were curled up, and it was beginning to smell.
Kenobi had really outdone himself this time--he had found a real dead womp rat. Maul was impressed. The padawan picked up the rat by its tail and slammed it down on the table in front of Maul. The table shook.
"Oh yes," said Maul nervously. "The Mos Eisley Sand-Colored. What's, uh... what's wrong with it?"
The routine only got better from there. Kenobi practically had the audience--and Maul--wrapped around his little finger. Maul could barely keep a straight face as Kenobi screamed "HELLO, FUZZY!!!!" into their vitally deficient co-star's ear and beat its scuzzy little head on the table. He then took the rat by all four legs and hurled all 6 feet of it into the air. The whole theater shook as it hit the stage.
The audience nearly wet their collective underpants as Kenobi reached his climactic speech. "This womp rat is no more," he insisted. "He has ceased to be! He's expired, gone to meet his maker!" He paused, then continued with even greater gusto. "He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the exercise wheel, he'd be pushing up the daisies! He's off the twig! He's curled up his tootsies, he's shuffled off his mortal coil! He's run down the curtain and become one with the bleeding Force! His metabolic processes are now history!" Constantly building energy, Kenobi was nearly shouting now, leaning over the table until he was inches from Maul's face. "All statements to the effect that this womp rat is still a going concern are from now on inoperative! THIS IS AN EX-WOMP RAT!!!!"
You know, thought Maul at Kenobi in the long silence that followed while the audience tried in vain to breathe again, you're really cute when you're angry.
They were a sensation. The audience brought them out for two curtain calls, and, just for kicks, Obi-Wan re-introduced the famous roach, who did a lovely Fred Astaire impersonation under the padawan's guidance. Qui-Gon, Yoda, and Mace Windu sulked in the wings. Maul thought he had never been so happy while still sober before in his life.
Sidious approached him backstage after the show. "Excellent work, my apprentice," he said dryly. "Now I have one more task for you before your theater experience is over."
Well, thought Maul, there goes my good mood. "Yes, my Master?" he said aloud.
"I want you to cater the cast party," said Sidious.
Maul's mouth hung open. Cater the cast party? He couldn't believe Sidious would actually let him have that much fun. He'd show those granola-munching hippies how to really eat. "Yes, my Master," he smirked. Visions of all things rich and chocolatey danced in his head. Maybe he'd serve up some roast seagull while he was at it...
"The Jedi have already approved, as long as you adhere to the approved menu--nothing difficult, I'm sure... tofu salad, soy burgers, ice milk, nutritional supplement smoothies..."
"AAAAAAARGH!!!!" cried Maul. That's it, he thought. When I get home to my nice lightsaber, I'm rising up and slaying your ass.
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