The Calvin, Hobbes, and Paine Show
Calvin lit his cigarette, waiting for the curtains to part. This was always the hardest part; what happened just before each night's show started. How big was the audience out there, and what were they thinking.
Before he could think too much, the regular fanfare started and Don Pardo's recognizable voice began his usual announcing:
"LIVE! FROM BURBANK, CALIFORNIA! IT'S THE CALVIN, HOBBES, AND PAINE SHOW! STARRING: HOBBES! PAINE! FEATURING CALVIN'S MOM AND DAD! AND NOW, YOUR HOST, THE MAN OF THE HOUR, CALVIN!"
The curtains parted and Calvin took to the stage, happy to see a full house! He greeted the crowd and kicked off that evening's show with his standard monologue before eventually seguing into a Spaceman Spiff short. But in the back of his mind, one thought permeated everything else: Christ, he missed the Watterson days.
From 1985-1995, Calvin and Hobbes had been Bill Watterson's creation, and they had, in Calvin's estimate, put out their best content. Pretty much all of Calvin's favorite episodes had come from that era. Who could forget such classics as the original Duplicator story, or Calvinball. Scientific Progress Goes "Boink!" Revenge of the Baby-Sat! Weirdos From Another Planet! Those had been the years.
But Watterson had left the show after It's a Magical World and the new brass at the network wanted to take the show in a new direction. For the next two years it had been The Calvin and Hobbes Show and adopted the variety show format it still retained. Then had come the biggest change. As a ratings ploy, Calvin had been given a baby sister named Paine (continuing the philosopher name motif). Paine had been a welcome addition to the cast and Calvin certainly loved his sister dearly, even if she was a "slimy girl." But then the problems had started.
Miss Wormwood, getting up there in years, had left the show. Fine, Calvin thought, they'll just replace her with a new character. Maybe a young teacher who I'll cause more mischief for. But as it turned out, no new teacher was ever created. Instead, any storylines involving Calvin in the classroom were just discontinued. Principal Spittle stayed with the show though, though it was hard to shoehorn him into any plots when you didn't have a teacher. Another one of Calvin's favorite episodes from the Watterson era had been when he had brought his Stupendous Man costume to school. That had just been classic! In recent years they had tried to redo that episode with Calvin dressing as Stupendous Man in Principal Spittle's office, but to less effect.
What about Rosalyn? Surely her adventures in babysitting Calvin would continue to be one of the show's highlights. Well, not really. Rosalyn was still a regular on the show, but was now married to her formerly-unseen boyfriend Charlie and was raising her baby son Chandler (that's what happens when you're competing for the same timeslot as Friends). They had been given their own Rosalyn & Charlie subset of stories, which aired along with the Spaceman Spiff's, Stomp Calvin's, and Calvin's Ancestor's. Those bit-stories always played well.
But worst of all had been the celebrity guest-stars, which had been unheard of in the Watterson days. Some weren't so bad. Celine Dion had been a musical guest and fit the vibe of the show, while Claire Danes had become a semi-regular and even appeard in a few classic episodes such as Time Is But Mine and Damn Martians! In the summer of 1999, when Blair Witch had been at the height of its popularity, the brass had pressured them to do a spoof, just like every other comedy show out there. So they had aired The Claire Witch Project, in which Calvin, Claire Danes, and stuffed-doll Hobbes had gone out into the woods trying to film a documentary. Still, Claire was a loyal friend of the show and Calvin had a soft spot for her. Stick Stickly had only guest-starred in one episode, but Lord Almighty, what an episode it had been: the birth of Paine!
So those had all worked out. Other guest-stars, however:
Tom Jones had guest-starred in a Christmas themed story. Calvin once again was struggling to act good to impress Santa, and upon learning that Susie Derkins was a Tom Jones fan, introduced him to her. The plot had just been lame. Bart and Lisa Simpson had done a crossover to promote their own show, but Calvin just loathed Bart. Robert DeNiro had blown his lines during his live appearance, and ruined the next sketch. Still, at least that had been an honest mistake. The worst guest-star of all had been David Arquette. Guest-hosting in 1998, when the Scream movies were at the peak of their popularity, Arquette had actually tried to take over the show and framed Calvin of being Andrew Cunanan, only months after Gianna Versaci's murder. Fortunately, Calvin had won the show back.
And through it all, The Calvin, Hobbes, and Paine Show had endured. Just like that show Bart and Lisa did, it was just too popular to ever get cancelled no matter how mediocre it got.
As the Spaceman Spiff piece was coming to an end, Calvin took a heavy drag of his joint. He always mixed a little tobacco with the Marijuana when he rolled up his fillies. Moe had taught him this, along with his brother Joe, another recent addition to the cast. Could Moe ever guess that "Twinkie" would one day be taking his fixes backstage during ever live show? Well, never mind that now. It was time to get on stage for the first original story of the night. It was a piece called Adventures In Babysitting, Claire was in it, and he had to be ready. And so, he took to the stage, ready to start.
Calvin, Hobbes, and Paine
"Adventures In Babysitting"
It's Friday afternoon, and Calvin is getting off the school bus, running to his house at top speed. It's been an especially long week, and he's only got thought on his mind: a weekend full of cartoons and Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs! He runs up the steps, opens the door while beginning to say "I'm home!"-
Hobbes pounces on him, knocking Calvin about ten feet back and causing a pileup of dirt.
[The audience cheers at this, one of the show's longest running hallmarks. At least this element was retained from the Watterson-era]
"Get off me, you oaf!" Calvin grumbles, shaking the dirt off his familiar shirt.
"Why are you in such a bad mood?" Hobbes asks, "It's Friday! Let's go play some Calvinball until your mom calls us back in."
"Hold on," Calvin says, "It isn't just any Friday. It's a three-day weekend. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Yeah, we're fresh out of tuna!"
[The audience goes wild at Hobbes's joke-or is it an artificial laugh track? Truth is, Calvin can't always tell the difference]
"No," Calvin says, "We need to have an emergency meeting of G.R.O.S.S. C'mon, let's go to my room and get Paine."
Paine is still in her crib, but she lights up when Calvin and Hobbes enter, and she giggles as Hobbes makes his usual funny faces. At least she can see Hobbes in his true form, which is more than Calvin can say for his parents.
It's too dangerous to bring Paine up to their treehouse, so lately G.R.O.S.S. meetings have been held underneath a carboard box, though they have to be careful; when turned upside-down, the box becomes a transmogrifier, and might unintentionally go off on them while inside. Hobbes has repeatedly suggested holding their meetings inside the box when it's turned right-side up, and thus becomes a time machine. Hobbes still gets sick during time travel, but still, an accidental trip to medeival times is preferable to an accidental transformation into a slug.
[Besides, going to the past isn't so bad; they might even run into Melvin and Robs, their ancestors who have been featured in some of the Calvin's Ancestors stories from previous episodes]
But no, Calvin insists that box must be upside down for the sake of absolute secrecy. Paine is the first female member of G.R.O.S.S., which necessitated a change in name. Hence, it had ceased being the Get Rid of Slimy girlS club, and instead become the Get Rid of Susie derkinS club.
"Hear ye, hear ye!" Calvin says, "This meeting of G.R.O.S.S. will come to order. Club founder and dictator-for-life Calvin speaking."
"Hear hear!" Hobbes says.
"President Hobbes and Prime Minister Paine are also present and recognized. Tonight's item of business is getting rid of that slimy girl known as Susie Derkins-"
"I have a request," Hobbes says.
"The club recognizes President Hobbes."
"Can we make some folded-newspaper hats?"
"It's just not really a meeting of G.R.O.S.S. if we don't wear the folded-newspaper hats."
"Listen, pea-brain, we don't have time for that!"
"I say we put this to a vote. Who else agrees we should spend at least the next fifteen minutes making hats out of folded newspaper?"
Hobbes quickly raises his hand and Paine does the same.
[This gets tremendous laughter, as well as a lot of "Aww's" from the audience]
"Two against one!" Hobbes says.
"Every time you pass a vote, you get Paine to agree with you!" Calvin fumes, "You know she doesn't know what she's voting for! She's just copying you!"
"I'm afraid the motion has already been passed and the meeting is adjourned," Hobbes sticks his tongue out, "Let's go find some newspaper!"
In the middle of going through old newspapers, Calvin comes across an article. He quickly brings it to Hobbes's attention, but Hobbes is already in the middle of creating a masterpiece of a hat.
"Hey, look at this!" Calvin says, "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie: The Kablooie Movie is playing at the multiplex! Think Mom and Dad'll take us see it?"
"Well, your dad would rather commit suicide than ever have anything to do with Hamster Huey again. Your mom maybe, but she's still pretty sore over the noodle incident."
"Man alive, are we still talking about the noodle incident?" Calvin says, "I mean, I know I'm only six years old, but sometimes I feel like we've been talking about that for over twenty years."
"Exactly what did happen?" Hobbes asks, "I mean, you're always saying you were framed, but I'd like to know. What is your official version of the noodle incident?"
"Alright, that's it," Calvin says, "I'm sick of always being asked what the noodle incident was, so I'm just gonna tell you. Here it is, once for all. You see, what happened on the day of the noodle incident was-"
"Calvin! Are you playing with your sister under that carboard box again?" Mom calls from downstairs.
[The audience laughs at this, though there is a bit of a frustrated sigh from them as well. I can't believe we're still playing up the mystery of the noodle incident, Calvin thinks, We've been doing this shtick since 1987 and they still think it's funny! They'll never find out what really happened]
"Yeah, Mom," Calvin answers.
"You know that's dangerous. Paine's less than a year old and she's still very fragile."
"Hey, Mom! Wanna take us to a movie this weekend?"
"Actually, your father and I were thinking of going out tomorrow night. We're gonna need a babysitter."
The next evening, Mom and Dad are getting ready while Calvin is groveling at their feet.
"Please don't leave me with a babysitter! Please please please please!"
"Maybe your friend Claire Danes can babysit you tonight," Mom says, "Remember that Christmas you stayed with her at the Plaza Hotel? Or what about Celine Dion? She used to come visit here all the time."
"Ugh, I'm dying!" Calvin says, pretending to choke himself. "Can't you see I'm suffering?"
"Suffering builds character," Dad says.
[The badum tish sound of two drums and a cymbal accompany Dad's delivery of this punchline. The audience cheers wildly as they do every time Dad says his trademark slogan. Dad has appeared on The Tonight Show and hosted Saturday Night Live, and both times has had to say his slogan. He's also authored the bestselling book, actually written by his personal assistant, entitled Still Building Character!]
Suddenly the doorbell rings. Calvin screams in horror as Mom walks to the front door. Standing there are Rosalyn, her husband Charlie, and their infant son Chandler.
"Hi, Rosalyn," Mom says, "I guess you're able to babysit Calvin tonight after all. But-any reason you brought the whole family?"
"Well, we wanted a night out ourselves," Rosalyn says, "By the way, an advance would definitely be helpful."
"Didn't we pay you an advance last time?"
"Aww, shucks," Charlie says, tugging at his cowboy hat, "It sure is tough raising a baby. I remember the night Rosalyn gave birth and I got so drunk I woke up with a stripper. Remember that, honey?"
"Of course I do. That was the day before our wedding."
[The audience laughs wildly at this, remembering the classic two-part episode where this happened]
Suddenly Calvin comes running back over.
"Alright, look, Rosalyn. You don't like me and I don't like you. But if you take Hobbes, Paine, and me to the movies, we'll make your lives easier."
"Aww, shucks," Charlie says, tugging at his cowboy hat again, "I'd love to the movies."
"Alright, it's a deal," Rosalyn says, "but we're a pretty big group. We're gonna need another advance to cover all the admission."
"But-" Mom begins.
"Mom, pleeeeeease!" Calvin begs.
"Oh, alright," Mom grumbles, forking over more money.
"I told you we should have just gotten a dog," Dad says.
[Badum tish! And on that punchline, the curtain closes and the crowd goes wild!]
As soon as the story ended, Calvin took a breath, then quickly ran out on stage.
"This story arc will be continued in a Rosalyn & Charlie short that we got coming up for you next. But first, a brief word from our sponsor, Chewing magazine!"
The commercial started and Calvin headed backstage to his dressing room. He was gonna need more weed to calm his nerves down. Outside, the show continued.