Applause, Applause

Gimme a “C,” a bouncy “C”

An aide dubbed the “Music Man” was tasked with playing calming tunes for Donald Trump when he went into rages, according to a scandal-filled book by a former press secretary.

Stephanie Grisham, notorious for not giving a single televised press conference while serving as Trump’s chief spokeswoman, writes in “I’ll Take Your Questions Now” that her boss went into “terrifying” rants.

To calm Trump’s moods, a handler known to White House staff as the “Music Man” would play him Broadway tunes, including “Memory” from the long-running hit show “Cats,” the book claims. — AFP

[Peppy music. A super appears on a scrim: MARCH 2020. We are in the Oval Office. TRUMP, wearing a dark suit, is sitting at the Resolute Desk, leaning way back. He has just finished ingesting his “formula”; the box, mirror, straw and razor are on the blotter, and there are traces of white powder on his nose and mouth. He tunelessly da-da-da’s some indistinct tune. Music fades. Through an interior door White House press secretary STEPHANIE GRISHAM enters wearing a short-sleeve scoop-neck dress with a grey plaid pattern that makes it look like a tablecloth. She comes in smiling but immediately gets an “oh shit” look on her face.]

GRISHAM: Good morning, sir.

TRUMP: Uh huh.

GRISHAM: How are you today, sir?

TRUMP: On a morning like this I could kill everybody.

[TRUMP gets up and starts wandering around the Oval Office, clenching and unclenching his fists.]

GRISHAM: Sir?

TRUMP: Roar of the Greasepaint. Anthony Newley.

GRISHAM: [Timidly, gesturing toward her own nose] Mr. President, you have some — some sort of — dust on and around your nose and —

TRUMP: [As if just noticing her] What are you talking about?

GRISHAM: Here, let me show you, sir —

[GRISHAM goes for a compact in her jacket pocket, but as she’s getting it out TRUMP goes to his desk, grabs the mirror, shakes some white residue off it and holds it up to his face; he squints, drops the mirror, points at GRISHAM.]

TRUMP: You. Clean me up.

GRISHAM: Of course, sir.

[GRISHAM gets a tissue out of her pocket and brushes the residue off TRUMP’s face.]

All done, sir.

TRUMP: You get it all?

GRISHAM: Yes, sir.

TRUMP: Bet you hear that a lot.

GRISHAM: [After a beat] Yes, sir.

[GRISHAM pulls out an iPhone and hits a few buttons.]

TRUMP: So where’s Mark?

GRISHAM: Paging him, sir.

[Knock at the door.]

TRUMP: [“Come in”] Yeah.

[TRUMP Chief of Staff MICK MULVANEY, just days away from leaving the job, comes in. He’s wearing a blue suit with a striped tie and Hush Puppies and looks like he’s having a very hard time pretending to give a shit.]

MULVANEY: Good morning, Mr. President.

[TRUMP goes to his desk and sits.]

TRUMP: OK. Got any news for me?

MULVANEY: News, sir?

TRUMP: Yeah, about the tunnels.

MULVANEY: [After a beat] Oh, the tunnels, yes, sir, we’re hard at work and on schedule.

TRUMP: But not under budget, I bet.

MULVANEY: All within budget, sir, don’t worry.

TRUMP: So we’ll be able to get enough water to flood the fuckers.

MULVANEY: We’re still working on it, sir.

TRUMP: What’s to work on? You just run some hoses down there and [makes a splashing noise].  

MULVANEY: The engineers are working on it, sir. To see if we can get the, the proper torque. You know, to run enough water to actually flood the Capitol.

TRUMP: [Almost winsomely] Won’t they be surprised, huh, when all that water comes in and drowns ‘em. I wanna go see it.

MULVANEY: See what, sir?

TRUMP: The tunnels.

MULVANEY: Well, as I’ve told you, sir, it’s very dirty and dangerous, and for security reasons, we can’t let you visit at this time.

[Pause.]

TRUMP: [Quietly] You didn’t dig any tunnels.

[Pause.]

MULVANEY: I beg your pardon, sir? [Beat] As I’ve told you, sir, we’ve been working on the —

TRUMP: BULLSHIT! BULL FUCKING SHIT! BULLSHIT!

[TRUMP is now red-faced and screaming. He stands. MULVANEY looks blandly at TRUMP, surreptitiously taking a step back; GRISHAM frantically punches numbers on her phone.]

THERE’S NO TUNNELS! I KNOW! IT’S JUST MORE OF YOUR FUCKING BULLSHIT LIES! YOU FUCKING IRISH MONKEY AND YOU STUPID FUCKING WHORE!

[TRUMP grabs the straw from the blotter, bends over and just sucks up some unchopped formula from the box; he gags and coughs, gets redder and madder.]

Fuckers! FUCKERS!

[TRUMP comes around the desk, fists clenched, just repeatedly lunging his face at MULVANEY and GRISHAM and then rocking back on his heels and doing it again. MULVANEY’s eyes are practically closed. GRISHAM keeps checking her phone.]

IT’S JUST LIKE THE, THE, THE, SOUND WEAPON THING IN HAVANA THAT FUCKS PEOPLE UP. REMEMBER THAT! I WANTED IT! YOU TOLD ME WE COULD KILL CONGRESS WITH IT!

[TRUMP gestures to the sky.]

I GAVE YOU MILLIONS OF DOLLARS! MILLIONS! AND WHAT DID YOU TELL ME?

[TRUMP goes back to lunging.]

WHAT DID YOU TELL ME? I’LL TELL YOU WHAT YOU TOLD ME! YOU TOLD ME IT DOESN’T WORK IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE! LIKE HOW WATER GOES DOWN THE DRAIN BACKWARDS IN SOUTH AFRICA, YOU SAID! FIVE MONTHS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS! WHAT A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT!

[TRUMP walks over to a couch.]

NOW WHAT THE FUCK AM I GOING TO DO? THAT FUCKING CHINESE BUG IS GONNA KILL MILLIONS OF PEOPLE!

[TRUMP leans on the couch. He’s panting, absolutely red.]

AND I’M STUCK HERE! STUCK HERE! WITH MY THUMB UP MY ASS! WITH YOU! BECAUSE YOU WON’T KILL CONGRESS! YOU WON’T KILL! Kill…

[TRUMP’s knee trembles; his eyes are glazed; he wheezes. GRISHAM quickly pockets her phone.]

Kill, kill them… you kill… but you won’t, they won’t kill…

[GRISHAM runs to the door and opens it. Ragtime traveling piano music is heard. A small macadam piano, pulled from the back by a MAINTENANCE WORKER in a light orange jumpsuit, rolls slowly in on wheels, followed and simultaneously played by MUSIC MAN, a slim white short-haired man of about 30 wearing a white suit and shirt, polka-dot tie, red suspenders, a straw boater, and clean white Converse sneakers. With his feet the WORKER clicks some levers at the piano’s base to anchor it in place, then goes over and stands by the far wall and plays with his phone; the MUSIC MAN segues into another tune. TRUMP sits on the couch and stares, enraptured. The MUSIC MAN plays and sings, in a pleasing light baritone:]

A weekend in the country —
It’s perverted!
Pack my quiver and bow.
A weekend in the country —
Aaaaat exactly 2:30, we go.

We can’t! We shall!
We shan’t!
I’m getting the car
And we’re motoring down.
Yes, I’m certain you are,
And I’m staying in town —

[TRUMP has run up to the MUSIC MAN, waving his hands in front of him.]

TRUMP: Hold it! Hold it! HOLD IT!

[The MUSIC MAN stops.]

What’s with the Sondheim bullshit!

[TRUMP winces and minces around, holding the tips of the fingers of each hand together and trying to sway his butt.]

Ibbidy pibbidy ibbidy pibbidy ibbidy pibbidy pibbidy!

[TRUMP stops mincing.]

Christ, it sounds like Gilbert and Gottfried! At the Grand Hyatt we had guys in the lobby, classy guys, Broadway musicians, they didn’t play that shit. They played stuff normal people like. Like Jerry Herman. Hey. Let’s do that number I worked up — [To GRISHAM and MULVANEY] Get a load of this. [To the MUSIC MAN.] Let’s go!

[The MUSIC MAN plays a brief into and TRUMP gamely, and very badly, sings to the tune of “Mame”:]

I gave a big tax cut to the rich —
Trump!
I told them Hil-la-ry is a bitch —
Trump!
Obama mocked and laughed at me, listen buddy, who is laughing now?
My wife starred in pornography, you are married to an ugly cow!

[TRUMP struts more or less in time to the music to his desk.]

I whip the white folks into a rage —

[TRUMP gestures and GRISHAM, MULVANEY and the MUSIC MAN join him in singing the tags:]

Trump!
I put the beaner kids in a cage —
Trump!
Black people think they got it rough, they protest and pray for me to fail,
But when I pack the courts enough, I’ll put every one of them in jail

[TRUMP is at the desk now, chopping a line and holding a straw.]

Bill Barr says I can do anything —

[TRUMP snorts while the others sing.]

GRISHAM, MULVANEY and the MUSIC MAN: Trump!

TRUMP: Soon I will be America’s king --

EVERYONE [including the MAINTENANCE MAN]: Trump!

TRUMP: That’s why they made me president, they know the U.S. is just a dump.
They loved it when I cussed it out —
The chassis’ broke and rusted out —
Wait ‘til this place is busted out

EVERYONE: Trump!

[CURTAIN.]