The Army Sketch, by Doug Case and Ken Wilson

Scene:  An army parade ground

Characters: Captain, Private Large, Private Small, Private Potter

The Captain and Privates Large and Small can be played by male or female actors. Private Potter is always played by a female actor. If the Captain is a female, ‘sir’ changes to ‘ma’am’.

Enter Captain, Private Large and Private Small, marching

Captain:            Left, right, left, right, attention! Private Large!

Large:                Sir!

Captain:            Private Small!

Small:                Sir!

Captain:            Private Potter! (Silence) Private Potter!!! Where is Private Potter???

Large:                I don’t know, sir!

Small:                 I haven’t seen her, sir!

Captain:            (Shouting) Private Potter!!!!

Enter Private Potter, walking in a casual way 

Potter:               Here I am. Sorry I’m a bit late, I couldn’t find my cap.

Captain:            Private Potter! Get in line! Left, right, left, right, attention!

Private Potter gets in line next to Private Small

Captain:            Private Potter?

Potter:               Yes?

Captain:            Yes, SIR!!!!!!!/Yes, MA’AM!!!

Potter:               Captain, you don’t have to call me ‘sir’. I’m a woman!

or

Captain, you don’t have to call me ‘ma’am’. I’m a private!

Captain:            Private Potter! When you talk to me, you call me sir/ma’am!

Potter:               Oh yes. Sorry, I forgot. What do you want … sir?

Captain:            I want you to shut up and listen. Now … you’re in the army, right?

L/S/P:                 Right!

Captain:            And in the army, there are some things you must do and some things you mustn’t do. Isn’t that right, Private Large?

Large:                Pardon, sir?

Captain:            In the army, there are some things you must do and some things you mustn’t do.

Large:                Yes, sir.

Captain:            Give me an example!

Large:                I don’t know, sir!

Captain:            Private Large?

Large:                Yes, sir!

Captain:            You’re an idiot!

Large:                Thank you, sir!

Captain:            Private Small!

Small:                 Yes, sir?

Captain:            Give me an example!

Small:                 An example of what, sir?

Captain:            An example of something you must do in the army.

Small:                 Oh right, sir. Er …

Captain:            Come on!

Small:                 You must get up in the morning, sir.

Captain:            What?

Small:                 You must get up in the morning, sir.

Captain:            No, that’s wrong. Correct him/her, Private Potter!

Potter:               You mustn’t get up in the morning?

Captain:            No!!! Private Large!!!

Large:                Yes, sir?

Captain:            Did you hear Private Small’s example?

Large:                Yes, sir!

Captain:            It was wrong, wasn’t it?

Large:                Yes, sir!

Captain:            Why was it wrong?

Large:                I don’t know, sir.

Captain:            Private Large?

Large:                Yes, sir?

Captain:            You’re still an idiot!

Large:                Thank you, sir.

Captain:            (Quietly – trying to make them understand) Listen … getting up in the morning isn’t just an army rule. It’s a rule for everyone. Everyone has to get up in the morning.

Captain:            The rule in the army is this: you must get up at five o’clock in the morning. Isn’t that right, Private Large?

Large:                Yes, sir!

Captain:            Isn’t that right, Private Small?

Small:                 Yes, sir!

Captain:            Isn’t that right, Private Potter.

Potter:               Yes, sir….. but it’s stupid.

Captain:            (Pause) What?!?

Potter:               It’s stupid getting up at five o’clock in the morning. It’s too early.

Large:                I agree, sir!

Small:                 So do I, sir!

Potter:               Why can’t we stay in bed until seven o’clock?

Small:                 Or eight o’clock?

Large:                Or lunchtime!

The privates discuss this animatedly

Captain:            Stop! You have to get up at five o’clock in the morning because …

L/S/P:                 Yes?

Captain:            Because we may be attacked by the enemy.

Large/Small:     (Understanding) Aaaaah!

Potter:               But that’s also stupid.

Captain:            Also stupid?

Potter:               Yes! If the enemy knows that we get up at five o’clock …

Large/Small:     Yes?

Potter:               They’ll attack us at four o’clock!

Large/Small:     Oh yes!

Potter:               So, if we stay in bed until twelve o’clock midday …

Large/Small:     Yes?

Potter:               The enemy will attack us at eleven o’clock.

Large/Small:     Oh yes!

Potter:               And that’s a much more sensible time to be attacked!

Large:                I agree, sir!

Small:                 So do I, sir!

Captain:            Stop! You have to get up at five o’clock in the morning.

Potter:               But why?

Captain:            Because it’s an army rule! Now … can anyone tell me something you mustn’t do in the army?

Small:                 Yes, sir!

Captain:            (Pleased) Very good, Private Small. Give us your example. What mustn’t you do in the army?

Small:                 You mustn’t cross the road, sir!

Captain:            Eh?

Small:                When the little man is red, sir!

Captain:            What?

Small:                You mustn’t cross the road when the little man is red, sir!

Captain:            What little man, Private Small?

Small:                The little man on the crossing, sir. Like this.

Small demonstrates the little red man on the crossing

Large:                He/she’s right, sir! You must wait until the little man is green, sir. Like this:

Large demonstrates the little green man on the crossing, moving legs

Captain:            (Quietly) Private Large …

Large:                Yes, sir?

Captain:            You know I said you were an idiot?

Large:                Yes, sir?

Captain:            I was wrong.

Large:                Thank you, sir.

Captain:            You and Private Small are BOTH idiots!

Large/Small:     Thank you, sir!

Captain:            (Disbelieving) You mustn’t cross the road when the little man is red … do you really think that’s something you mustn’t do in the army?

Small:                 Yes, sir.

Captain:            But that’s ridiculous! It’s like saying: You mustn’t eat your food quickly.

Small:                Yes, sir. That’s another one, sir.

Captain:            Look. You’ve got to understand the difference between army rules and general rules.

Large:                General rules, sir?

Captain:            Yes, Large.

Large:                Does that mean ‘rules for generals’, sir?

Captain:            No! There are some rules just for the army.

Potter:               Can you give us an example, sir?

Captain:            Yes, Potter. An example. You must never give information to enemy agents.

L/M/S:                You must never give information to enemy agents!

Captain:            Now, what have we learnt about the difference between army rules and general rules?

Large:                Army rule – you must get up at five o’clock!

Potter:               General rule – you can stay in bed all day.

Small:                 Army rule – you must never give information to enemy agents.

Potter:               General rule – you can tell them what you like.

Captain:            Right! It’s time for lunch.

L/S/P:                 Lunch! Hurray!

Captain:            You can all go to the pub.

L/S/P:                 The pub! Hurray!

Captain:            And don’t forget the most important rule of all.

Potter:               What’s that?

Captain:            You must all buy the captain a drink! Left! Right! Left! Right!

They all march off

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