TONY SOPRANO LIVES HERE
Two college students, MELISSA and nerdy IVAN, are dressed in all black; half covered from the waist down in sleeping bags. They sit atop a comforter with flashlights, and a deck of cards scattered in front of them.
MELISSA: James better get his rump out here soon, I’m freezing.
IVAN: You just called him James!
IVAN: So... We agreed not to call him exclusively by his first name until we got to know him a little bit better.
MELISSA: Ivan, I’m the president of the James Gandolfini fan club, I can call him whatever I like!
IVAN: But just because you’re the president you can’t just...make up rules... we had a pact, Melissa. You can call him James Gandolfini, or just Mr. Gandolfini... don’t call him James until he says to you, “Call me James.”
MELISSA: You know that I could demote you for talking to the president that way.
IVAN: There’s only two people in the club!
MELISSA: Still, I could revoke your vice presidency.
IVAN: I was merely trying to say respect the name “Gandolfini.” You can’t have the “James” without the “Gandolfini.”
Ivan picks up a handful of cards, and then resumes playing.
IVAN: Do you have any sevens?
MELISSA: Go fish.
Ivan draws a card from the pile. They sit in an awkward silence for a few seconds, as he stares at her.
IVAN: Aren’t you supposed to say something?
MELISSA: What? Oh, oh right... got any fives?
IVAN: (in a half-baked Jersey accent) “Go sleep with the fishes!”
MELISSA: Excuse me?
IVAN: (sheepishly) It’s what Tony Soprano would say.
MELISSA: I don’t think Tony Soprano sits around playing Go Fish. He’s a big TV star.
Ivan slaps down his cards.
IVAN: Well, now you’re drawing a divide here. Maybe James Gandolfini doesn’t play Go Fish, because yes, as you said, he’s a big TV and movie star, so he probably has a lot on his plate and he just can’t find the time. On the other hand, I predict that Tony Soprano, his character on the show, would absolutely play Go Fish, because he’s a big time mobster. Those guys all revel in winning large amounts of money in their card games, and he had to start somewhere.
MELISSA: Look at us. Sitting in a tent, on a freezing cold night. Barely two inches above a soaking wet lawn. Fighting over the logistics of an imaginary character.
IVAN: (snaps his fingers) You know what’s wrong! We haven’t said the mantra today.
MELISSA: Oh, Ivan, we don’t need to say the mantra.
IVAN: Yes, we do. We need to get into the Gandolfini spirit. You know we’re supposed to say it right before we go to bed, and seeing as tonight’s exceptionally special and we may NOT be going to bed...
MELISSA: Okay, fine.
TOGETHER: JAMES GANDOLFINI....
MELISSA: Great actor.
IVAN: Greater man. Oh, it’s true.
MELISSA: That...was pointless...
Ivan picks up his cards again, and then looks at Melissa, waiting for her to follow his lead. She doesn’t, and merely sits there with her arms folded, staring in the opposite direction.
IVAN: Got any fours? Sorry, I take that back. Threes? Do you have any threes?
MELISSA: Oh, come on, Ivan, I don’t want to play Go Fish anymore.
IVAN: What else is there to do?
MELISSA: We could sit. And wait. Quietly.
IVAN: You don’t want to play the James Gandolfini trivia game?
MELISSA: Not really.
IVAN: I thought of something the other day. The name Gandolfini makes me think of Gandalf. From “Lord of The Rings.” Like what if James Gandolfini had played Gandalf for the movie instead of Ian McKellen. Did you know Ian McKellen is gay? I didn’t know that until I read his IMDB page. Remember when James Gandolfini played a gay man in that movie The Mexican?
MELISSA: Haven’t seen it.
IVAN: Oh, well, good movie. I bet those two men would have a lot to talk about if they sat down some time.
IVAN: Do you know what we should do some time? Me and you? I can’t believe we haven’t done this yet. I would suggest a Sopranos viewing party, but those are a little bit clich�d. What about just a James Gandolfini movie viewing party? I could host it in the dorm sometime, and ...
MELISSA: I’m sorry... he really isn’t a movie star. More of a TV guy.
IVAN: He’s done movies.
MELISSA: Not that many...
IVAN: Did you see Where the Wild Things Are?
MELISSA: Yeah, what does that have to do with anything?
IVAN: Well, he was in that.
MELISSA: He was? When?
IVAN: He played Carol! And you know what, unlike some actors who do kids movies just for the money and phone it in, he actually played Carol. When they were filming he had to wear the gigantic suit and head and everything.
MELISSA: I wasn’t paying too much attention to it. I don’t remember names or anything but I thought Carol was a girl?
IVAN: What? No, he wasn’t a girl!
MELISSA: Isn’t Carol a girl’s name?
IVAN: No! Not only a girl’s name! Carol was played by James Gandolfini. I can’t believe you didn’t make the connection that Carol was James Gandolfini; Carol was exactly like Tony Soprano with like, horns and fur. Few actors can pull that off you know, that sort of brutish charm combined with a little bit of a scary edge...that was a scary movie, too!
MELISSA: Scary? Please.
IVAN: Scary for kids!
MELISSA: I saw it with my baby cousin and she almost fell asleep. Not a successful scare-fest for your friend Tony Soprano.
IVAN: What has gotten into you today? For a president of the James Gandolfini fan club, you’re not acting all that proud of the fact we’re at the man’s house. Any minute now he could open up his blinds, realize we are sitting on his lawn and come give us a warm welcome.
MELISSA: I think this has gone a bit far. You do realize we’re on private property, right? This is illegal.
IVAN: I know it’s illegal. Although I usually abide by the rules, I recognized how awesome this opportunity was and fully ignored that. Come on, there’s no police around. It’s three in the morning.
MELISSA: I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe I should just forget the whole thing. You know what? I’m taking a leave of absence. The club is yours. You can be president of the James Gandolfini fan club...it doesn’t matter to me.
IVAN: You don’t think James Gandolfini is awesome anymore?
MELISSA: He’s okay...I guess? It was stupid to come here and camp out on his lawn and expect...
IVAN: So why are you here, Melissa?
MELISSA: I really don’t know. I’m kind of bored, to be honest.
IVAN: You’re not even the least bit excited by the fact you’re sitting on a celebrity’s lawn? It doesn’t even matter to you a tiny bit that a multi-millionaire with a face that screams recognition could be standing fifty feet away from us? This is James Gandolfini we’re talking about!
MELISSA: I honestly never really thought he’d be that cool to meet in person.
MELISSA: (shrugs) He’s always a jerk on TV. I just figured he’d be kind of a dick.
IVAN: You can say what you like about James Gandolfini, but he is a good man. A great man. He’s famous and rich but he is not the least bit conceited...he’s humble about his fame. I read an interview with him where he literally stated that acting is no different than any other job. He is hard working, he’s been married twice...he has a child! James Gandolfini is just like any one of us except he has done something with his life and he is AWESOME.
MELISSA: If he’s so soft and cuddly, why did he pick a role that basically painted him out to be TV’s biggest a-hole?
IVAN: He’s just an actor. Sometimes you’ve got to against the Hollywood grind. Somebody needs to play the unpopular roles. Trust me, he’s not like that. He describes himself as a 260-pound Woody Allen, he does have a shy, quirky sense of humour!
MELISSA: But he said it himself. He’s just an actor. He’s just a man who acts! Why are you so obsessed with him?
IVAN: I’m not obsessed. Sometimes a guy just needs a hobby. I could quit Gandolfini any time.
MELISSA: You talk about him like he’s a drug.
IVAN: Maybe he is.
Another silence follows, while Ivan moves some of his card piles into a bigger one, and then shuffles them a little bit.
IVAN: You’re done with these cards, right?
IVAN: The tournament’s over?
MELISSA: I think so. You won it. Do you want to just go home?
IVAN: What’ve you been playing at, Melissa? Why did you start this James Gandolfini fan club if you really don’t care for the man? I mean, what was the point of it all? The presidential position? The vice presidential position? The mantra, the badges, the name tags... all for a man you don’t particularly like?
MELISSA: Fine. Here it is. When we met in film class six months ago, do you remember our teacher’s first question of the day ...the very first thing she ever asked us?
MELISSA: She asked us who our favourite actor was. You were sitting right next to me. You said James Gandolfini. I remember I laughed quite hard. Because I just thought it was so random. He’s not particularly prominent in movies, or anything...
IVAN: But he’s an actor...
MELISSA: It just struck me as an odd choice. We were in film class, he’s not a big film guy.
IVAN: Well, I just explained to you the qualities that I liked about him.
MELISSA: I know. That’s great. I think it’s great that your choice was so different than everyone else’s. That’s when I knew you were a funny guy. That’s something that’s really important to me. And I decided to make this James Gandolfini fan club...yes, it is entirely a joke.
IVAN: To make fun of me.
MELISSA: No, not to make fun of you! To get to know you! Those fan club lunches we’ve had together...I’ve had fun with those. You might not know it, but you are one of the funniest people I know, Ivan. Thank you for taking me camping with you.
She leans a little bit closer to him. He pretends not to notice. She leans a little bit closer again, about to kiss him, but he moves out of her reach.
IVAN: Oh. Well, that can’t happen.
MELISSA: (taken aback) Why?
IVAN: I have a girlfriend.
MELISSA: You do?
IVAN: Yep, her name is Kelly. She’s a Social Studies student. An S.S.S. She’s actually in the year ahead of us, so maybe you don’t know her.
IVAN: Does that surprise you?
MELISSA: You’re actually not lying. I know that because if you were lying you would have waited to say that until after I kissed you.
IVAN: No, I’m not lying.
MELISSA: Well, I hope that goes well for you.
IVAN: It really is. Thanks.
MELISSA: Okay, provided that didn’t work out tonight, which it obviously...didn’t... I admit that I did have a backup plan.
IVAN: Let’s hear it...
MELISSA: Okay, I just thought...how funny would it be if we actually got to met him?
IVAN: Well, that’s what we were trying to do!
MELISSA: You were really, actually, expecting to meet him? You didn’t doubt whatsoever that he would look out his window at three in the morning and peer down his fifty foot front lawn and see us here?
IVAN: I was hoping.
MELISSA: I just thought this would be a really funny story to tell one day. Like, what if we just ran right up to his front door, knocked on it, and he answered, and invited us in?
IVAN: That would be amazing.
MELISSA: Then once we’re inside, I turn on the charm and get him to pour us a drink. Then I just grab a bottle of whatever he’s pouring, probably some rich Italian-man type liquor, and just RUN.
IVAN: That’s theft.
MELISSA: It would be so funny. Then we could just laugh and drink and laugh and I could finally claim, after nearly three years, I finally have one hilarious college memory.
IVAN: You only came camping with me so you could get drunk?
MELISSA: Oh yeah, I’m thirsty. And since my first plan went out the window...I want to drown my sorrows over you.
IVAN: That is so stupid. I’m not going to ruin my chances of being on friendly terms with the man for that.
MELISSA: I am camping in James Gandolfini's backyard, and I refuse to move until he forfeits his entire liquor stash.
IVAN: Why would he do that? He’s a rich man but I hardly think he’ll just start giving away expensive bottles of alcohol...
MELISSA: I don’t know. Let’s go up there. It’s worth a try.
IVAN: No, it really isn’t.
MELISSA: What if you got in a fight with James Gandolfini? Wouldn’t that give you some sort of mad superiority complex? Like, you finally defeated the thing you love most in this world. You could say you beat a strong He-man like Tony Soprano.
IVAN: Why would I want to fight him? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, he’s awesome. I don’t fight awesome people.
MELISSA: What if, what if he picked a fight with you?
IVAN: I just told you, he’s a very tame person. Unlike Tony Soprano in many ways.
MELISSA: Maybe things would be a little bit different with expensive alcohol involved. If I was having a pricy bottle of Italian wine stolen from me I think I would turn a little bit violent. If James Gandolfini was chasing me as I evacuated his house with a bottle of stolen of Brunello or something, and he tried to beat me up, would you do something about it? Would you show him who’s boss?
IVAN: What are you talking about?
MELISSA: You wouldn’t do that for me, Ivan? You wouldn’t be my saviour?
IVAN: Who are we kidding? I could never beat James Gandolfini in a fight. Let’s go home.
MELISSA: So you’ve given up on trying to catch a glimpse of him?
IVAN: It’s cold. He’s probably asleep. I can admire him from my TV set any time instead.
Ivan gets out of his sleeping bag and starts rolling it up. He shuffles the cards and puts them back in their box. Melissa follows his lead, and the two of them spend the remainder of their time on the stage space cleaning up.
IVAN: Are we at least in agreement that The Sopranos was a great show?
MELISSA: Yeah, it was a good show.
IVAN: Greatest show of all time.
Long, awkward pause
IVAN: To the very end.
MELISSA: Well, not really, Ivan. Good show on the whole, but not to the very end.
IVAN: No, to the very end!
MELISSA: Okay, I agree with you that the show used to be pretty good, but I hardly watched the last three seasons because the time between them was just getting ridiculous.
IVAN: You didn’t even WATCH them?
MELISSA: Not all of it.
IVAN: Well, it was worth the wait!
MELISSA: Well, I guess I’ll never know now.
IVAN: Unless you rent the DVDs....
MELISSA: Which I won’t.
IVAN: You don’t want to know how it ends?
MELISSA: Oh, I know how it ends. I just haven’t seen a lot of the three years of filler in between. FYI, I have seen the finale episode, just because it was...well, a finale. I thought it might be worth it to tune in.
It wasn’t that good.
IVAN: Sew your mouth shut, it was amazing!
MELISSA: The ending was so stupid.
IVAN: It created an aura of suspense.
MELISSA: Nothing happened, I was expecting some big gangster-style shootout and all I get for years and years of viewership devotion...
IVAN: Hardly...as you just proved...
MELISSA: ...Is some stupid scene in a diner with Tony giving blank looks at people.
IVAN: It wasn’t for everyone...but I thought it was... satisfying, albeit in a weird way.
MELISSA: The writers on that show don’t even know how to finish their
IVAN: Melissa....you are one lame duck. That’s not even funny anymore. Making fun of the Sopranos finale is so old now.