Zoom – As It (Didn’t) Happen

Saturday Night Live zoom sketch
Saturday Night Live satirized Zoom meetings recently, but real life may have beaten it to the punch. (Image: NBC Universal)

Hal

(In his best presentational voice) OK. Ready for our regular meeting. Using Zoom today. Everybody ready and willing? (laughs to himself)

Tracy

Hello?  You there?

Can you hear me?

Dick

I’M HERE! CAN YOU SEE ME?

Ethel

My screen just went dark. Are you still there?

(beat) Oh, never mind. There you all are!

Hal

Is the whole team assembled? There should be about 12 of us, but I am only seeing five of you.

Tracy

Yeah. You have to have you photo turned on … Or something.

Dick

Is it working now? I wore a tie for this!

Bev

Sorry I’m late. I have brought the little one along. She’s colicky.

Gladys

Oh, that’s always a difficult time. Turn your camera on, Bev! I can’t see the baby.

Hal

We have a lot to get through this morning. Could we get started?

Tracy

I was going to ask if I could bring at least one of the kids. We’re home schooling them.

Tom

Yes. I have been working on numeracy with mine already today.

Hal

Could you all turn your cameras on? We can’t see you.

Tom

Oh. I haven’t really dressed yet. I thought this was more like texting.

Bev

What are you wearing, Tom? (giggles)

Tom

Well, PJ bottoms and a T shirt. Oh. And slippers.

Bev

Very sexy!

Hal

(clears throat) As I said, the agenda is quite full.

Gladys

Is that your kitchen, Hal? We were thinking of those kinds of cabinets.

Hal

Yes.

Gladys

They look good in glossy white. What did you use for backsplashes?

Hal

(annoyed) Another time, perhaps?

Tracy

Dick, are you in an office?

Dick

Yeah, it’s my home office. I built it under the stairs. Mostly to have a place away from the kids.

Tracy

Yes, I can hear them in the background. Screaming, are they?

Dick

Yes. It’s part of a game I think. (beat) Oh, fuck! The dog just bolted in!

Tracy

What kind is it? It looks like a Lab?

Dick

It’s a mix. Lab and Collie I think. Sorry for saying ‘fuck’.

Hal

No need for apologies, but could we get on?

Elenore

Hello, everybody! Can you see me? (Hellos, etc)

Sorry I’m late. I finally booked a food delivery. And they just came.

Tracy

You look shattered, Elenore.

Everything OK?

Elenore

Yes, mostly. It’s just getting used to all of this. I get a bit teary at times.

Tracy

Yes. Seems never to end.

Hal

And we are the lucky ones. Working at home and still getting full pay.

Tom

You say that. I’m not so sure. The anxiety level is miles high.

Hal

Well, maybe if you washed and dressed, Tom.

Tom

Thanks boss. I’ll take that on board.

Hal

Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound harsh. It’s hard times for all of us. (pauses, then) We’ve written a short paper about maintaining our mental health.

Should I circulate it again? (muttering and unclear voices)

Bev

I’ve just realized how many books are on the shelves behind you, Tom!

Tom

Yes, running out of room!

Bev

Have you read them all? (beat) Or are they just for show?

Hal

OK, gang! That’s about enough chit chat. Shall we make a start?

The clock is ticking and we have a lot to cover today. (more mumbling, then)

ON SCREEN: We are sorry but your allotted free time on Zoom has expired. If you would like to pay for more time and continue, please click “continue’ at the top of the page.

Hello?

Are we still on?

What do I do now?

I can’t see any of you?

My screen has gone black!

Your voice is fading!

(beat)

Hello, Hal?  Do you read me?

The End.

HAL 9000 light

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Kip Jones

Kip Jones is an independent visiting scholar at the Faculty of Media and Communication and the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences at Bournemouth University. He was executive producer and author of the award-winning short biopic RUFUS STONE (2012). In retirement, he plans to complete several books on performative social science and auto-fiction.

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