Laugh? I could have died ...

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Yes, it's true. I've been working on a film script for Oliver Stone based on Dorothy Parker's life. Actually, Oliver Stone doesn't know about this yet. It's just that - well, Dorothy Parker is big at the moment and Oliver Stone doesn't seem to have a film lined up, so I thought he might be tempted. Here's part of an early scene in the Algonquin Hotel.

Several of the most brilliant writers in America are sitting round a large table, carving each other's witticisms on each other's backs.

Robert Benchley: Why do we always come to the Algonquin for these little get-togethers? You can't even get a decent drink.

SJ Perelman: You can't get a decent drink anywhere in America. It's Prohibition, remember?

Harpo Marx: But Prohibition is easy to handle, if you know how. What I do is this. I get drunk at home first on moonshine, then I come on down to the Algonquin, so I don't need a drink when I get here.

Ross: It's a good plan, but you're hardly ever here, Harpo.

Harpo: That's because I'm usually too drunk to find the way here. Enter Dorothy Parker.

Parker: Waiter! Bring me an Old-fashioned!

Benchley: Hi, Dottie - where were you last night?

Parker: I took a new young writer home with me. He was very interesting - once I picked him up I couldn't put him down.

Benchley: Nearly a funny remark. Keep working on it.

Perelman: So, tell us, Ross, how's the new magazine coming on? And have you decided to call it the New Yorker or the New Jersey Out-of-Towner?

Ross: Some mistake, I think. I'm not starting a magazine. You must be thinking of Harold Ross.

Robert Benchley: So which Ross are you?

Ross: I'm the other Ross. I'm Lawrence of Arabia. But I'm incognito.

Benchley: Incognito?

Parker: Yeah. He's disguised as a man. In real life he dresses as a woman in Arab robes. Enter Stephen Fry.

Fry: Bit like an Oriental Eddie Izzard, really. Nobody laughs. Fry gets stage fright and leaves. Three Turkish gunmen burst in and gun down Lawrence of Arabia. Shouting "So perish all Caucasian cross-dressers!" they, too, leave.

Parker: God, the service is getting really slapdash here. Waiter! Where's that Old- fashioned?

Benchley: Why do you always order an Old-fashioned, Dottie? Nobody else that I know drinks them any more.

Parker: Because the service here is so slow that whatever you order, it arrives old-fashioned.

Benchley: Hmm. Nearly funny. Keep trying. Miffed, Parker gets out a pistol and playfully guns down Robert Benchley.

Perelman: So, Harpo, how's life?

Harpo: What's new? Groucho's chasing girls, Chico's chasing money and I'm running away from both of them.

Parker: Harpo! You can talk! It's a miracle!

Perelman: What makes you think he can't talk, Dottie?

Parker: He couldn't talk in his last movie.

Perelman: That's nothing. Charlie Chaplin didn't talk in his last hundred movies, and yet he talks in real life.

Parker: Not according to his wife.

Harpo: Yeah, well the thing is that movie stars who didn't speak were two a penny in the silents. I intend to be the only movie star who doesn't speak in the talkies either. Also, I get to learn my lines quicker that way.

Perelman: I've never worn a wig. Do you mind if I try yours?

Harpo: Not at all. Keep the head lice. Perelman puts on the wig and looks the spitting image of Harpo. At that moment Groucho, Chico and Zeppo burst in and shoot Perelman, crying: "Take that for being the only genuinely funny Marx Brother!" They leave, frantically borrowing money from each other.

Parker: Oh, God, why is it that all the men in life I really like are dead an hour later? Enter Humphrey Bogart through the French windows.

Bogart: Maybe that's the sort of effect you have on men, sweetie.

Parker: Come away from those French windows! Before you know where you are Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Scott Fitzgerald will be coming in through them!

Bogart: Nearly funny, baby, but not quite. He gets out a gun.

Parker: Hey, is that a gun you've got in your hand or ...

Bogart: Yeah, it's a gun. Shoots her. She dies. Well, I'll be damned. Ten minutes into the film and I've already killed off the person playing the title role. Who'd be in an Oliver Stone movie? Enter a waiter.

Waiter: Did someone order an Old-fashioned?

Bogart: Yeah, but she's dead now. Make it a Between The Shrouds instead.

Waiter: OK.

Bogart: And say Sir when you die. Shoots him.

Waiter: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Dies.

I'll let you know what Stone says when I hear from him.

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