A comedy writer knocks on the door of Tim Paine’s office.
COMEDY WRITER: You wanted to see me?
TIM PAINE: Yes, yes. Come in, come in, comedy writer who may be a man OR a woman. All very inclusive here.
COMEDY WRITER: (confused) I’m sorry?
TIM PAINE: (ignoring them) I want to talk to you about the latest sledge you’ve written for me. Take a seat.
The comedy writer does so.
TIM PAINE: (continuing) Now, as you know, I employed you a couple of months ago to ‘punch up’ my material. After all, if the Barmy Army is going to be making jokes about Joe Root being a better batter than me, I need better comebacks than ‘haw, well at least I’m a better batter than you’. So I’ve hired you to write me some fresh sledges that will really get people taking notice of me and saying ‘that Tim Paine, he’s still got it’.
COMEDY WRITER: That was terribly expository, wasn’t it?
TIM PAINE: Yes, it was. And it’s exactly the kind of poor writing I want to expunge from my repertoire.
COMEDY WRITER: Well, that’s what I’m here for.
TIM PAINE: It is indeed. (He pulls out a piece of paper from his desk drawer.) Now, about this most recent sledge you’ve written…
COMEDY WRITER: It’s good, isn’t it?
TIM PAINE: Well, let’s talk about that.
COMEDY WRITER: You don’t like it?
TIM PAINE: (reading from the piece of paper) ‘Hey, fellas. This guy’s got more unexpected shots than an Alec Baldwin movie set’.
COMEDY WRITER: It refers to that accidental shooting on the set of the movie Rust. It’s timely. Relevant. Ripped from the headlines.
TIM PAINE: Yes, I get the reference. But…
COMEDY WRITER: I thought you could use it sarcastically. Like if a hopeless duffer with the bat comes in - say a Jimmy Anderson or a Zak Crawley - and goes for a reverse sweep that he misses and gets hit in the grill. Then you pull out the sledge, but with a sarcastic tone - like, he has unexpected shots but the subtext is they’re pretty terrible.
TIM PAINE: No, no. I understand when and how I’d theoretically use the sledge. That’s not the problem.
COMEDY WRITER: Because it’s wordplay. When you say ‘shot’ in cricket, you mean a stroke that the batsman—
TIM PAINE: (hurriedly) Batter
COMEDY WRITER: —batter is playing. But the ‘shot’ on the set of Rust was a loaded gun going off in the face of a member of the crew.
TIM PAINE: Yes, I understand the wordplay. But that’s kind of the problem. I mean, a woman died in that accident. It was a tragedy.
COMEDY WRITER: Sure.
TIM PAINE: Somebody will almost certainly go to jail for the incident. I’m not sure I want to be seen as the Australian captain making fun of that.
COMEDY WRITER: (frowning in confusion) But I thought you hired me to generate edgier material for you.
TIM PAINE: Well, this one might be a bit too edgy. Can’t you come up with slightly less controversial edgy material?
COMEDY WRITER: (sighing) I could try. (beat) What about something to do with ‘shots’ as in vaccinations? I could brainstorm some ideas on that. The opposite take: ‘This guy’s got fewer shots than an anti-vaxxer’.
TIM PAINE: (unconvinced) Again, I don’t really want to be taking any kind of public stance on matters of importance. I just want some light, fun comedy. Like, y’know, the babysitter bit.
COMEDY WRITER: The babysitter bit?
TIM PAINE: A classic. Everybody loved that. Give me more babysitter material.
COMEDY WRITER: But edgier?
TIM PAINE: Exactly.
COMEDY WRITER: (after a moment’s thought) What about if somebody drops an easy catch? ‘This guy’s messed up more sitters than Michael Myers’?
TIM PAINE: (confused) The Austin Powers guy?
COMEDY WRITER: The Halloween guy.
TIM PAINE: (getting it, but not loving it) Oh.
COMEDY WRITER: (sighing) You don’t like that one either?
TIM PAINE: (standing up) Look. I’m sure we can find the sweet spot. I have faith in you. Just go back to your pen and keep working at it.
COMEDY WRITER: (also standing up) I’ll do my best.
TIM PAINE: That’s all I can ask.
They shake hands.
COMEDY WRITER: And you definitely don’t want the Baldwin sledge?
TIM PAINE: Definitely not.
COMEDY WRITER: Can I sell it to Matthew then?
TIM PAINE: Sure.
From off stage, Matthew Wade emerges, grabs the sledge from Tim Paine’s hand and tosses a fifty dollar note at the comedy writer.
MATTHEW WADE: Yippee!
He scurries off stage.