This is an update of a sketch that I wrote many years ago about church ushers. With the arrival of Men in Black III, it is fun to introduce it to a new audience. Performance rights are granted as long as you credit me as author. (Acknowledging this blog would be appreciated. I would love to hear about your performance.)
Characters should wear black suits with white shirts. Dark sunglasses are required.
Old Agent (Tommy Lee Jones’ character) – hardened, confident, and serious
New Agent (Will Smith’s character) – young, cocky smart-aleck
Old Agent: Welcome to your first day with “The Company.” I hope you are ready for the challenge of your life.
New Agent: Of course, I’m ready. You only recruit the best, right?
Old Agent: We recruit potential. Don’t get too cocky. You don’t know what you are in for.
New Agent: Sure, whatever. Now, when do I get my offering plate?
Old Agent: Easy, kid. These things aren’t to be trifled with. This is a tough and serious job. Let’s start with something a little easier. Take this stack of bulletins and go to the side door. When someone comes in, greet them and hand them one. Can you handle it?
New Agent: Sure no problem. How hard could that be? <Walks off stage>
Old Agent: (to himself) These rookies just don’t get it…
New Agent: (after a pause, now short of breath) Chief, what are you getting me into? Do you know who is out there? The first person wouldn’t shake my hand, and the second family wanted bulletins for each person – even their baby. The third person quoted some Scripture to me while I was trying to greet them. His Bible looked really big. Then someone asked where the restrooms are. Someone said it was too hot; somebody else said it was freezing, could I turn up the heat. Then someone asked if I knew how Mrs. Jones’ surgery turned out. It was like they were, were, (looking out over the audience) aliens from different planets or something. What is going on here?
Old Agent: Calm down. That’s nothing compared to what can happen around here. Wait until the music minister cuts the offertory short and you aren’t down front. Everyone starts looking and fidgeting. Or when you have to give directions to the nursery to a woman with a crying baby. Or when the pastor asks us to hand out something to everyone without telling us ahead of time. Sometimes the pastor might even ask one of us to pray — out loud, in front of everyone. I have seen it all. God doesn’t gift everyone for this, but I think you can do it. You’ve got to hang in there and just do the job.
New Agent: Well, OK, but when is the offering?
Old Agent: Coming up soon now. You take the left side.
New Agent: But what if I see how much someone gives?
Old Agent: Don’t worry. Why do you think we wear these glasses? Its so people can’t tell if we are watching them or not. We are like deja vu. People know we are there, but they forget who we are. Besides, I have this neural atomizer that will erase your memories, should you ever choose to leave “The Company.” But you shouldn’t desert us. A Man in Back is a Man in Back forever. You may rotate off, but we always know where you are.
New Agent: And I thought this job was a joke.
Old Agent: No joke, sonny. Who do you think counts all these people every week? Who do you think cleans up all the note-covered bulletins after services? Who opens the doors so the people can be first to the restaurants? Who warmly greets everyone that comes every week? We do, the Men in Back. And the people sit there unaware of how their lives would be ruined if we didn’t do our job.
New Agent: Wow! This really is an elite unit. Thank you for letting me serve with you.
Old Agent: You’re created for it, kid! (hand him an offering plate) Now get down there are collect those offerings, the music is playing.
New Agent: Yes, sir!
“Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord.” I Corinthians 12:4-5 HCSB