Time: a Thursday, 7 p.m.
Place: see title
Up on SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM and JOHN THE APOSTLE, both seated downstage center; adjacent to each chair is an end table upon which are glasses of water. The chairs are upholstered in academic beige; the end tables are simple, drum-shaped acacia wood, as to not distract from the tedious discussion.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Good evening, ladies and dozing husbands. It’s an interesting change to be here at the Ninety-Second Street Y with all of you disheveled people clinging to your begrimed canvas tote bags, which were no doubt free with some sort of intellectual purchase. It seems split ends are all the rage up here on this godforsaken Lexington Avenue. Y’all ever heard of hot oil treatments? Well, anyway, kindly give a big round of applause for our special guest, direct from the Four Gospels, Jesus’s favorite, John the Apostle. (total quiet) … … Big round of applause, please. (the sound of crickets playing “Sunrise, Sunset”) … … Put your dry, scaly hands together, goddamnit!
JOHN THE APOSTLE: It’s alright, Senator Graham Cracker. While I may have written the “Gospel of John,” the “Epistles of John,” and the “Book of Revelation,” I’m no Tony Kushner. Although my essay, “Shopping for the Last Supper,” was recently published by The New Yorker and received praise from Paul Rudnick, who in a tweet referred to my writing as “extraordinarily funny—for a saint.”
LINDSEY: John, you outlived all of the other apostles, dying of natural causes at age ninety-four. To what do you attribute your astonishing longevity?
JOHN: Avoiding martyrdom, along with diet and exercise.
LINDSEY: Your colleague, Peter the Apostle, was crucified upside down, Thomas was impaled, and your brother, James, was beheaded. How did you manage to evade such fates?
JOHN: I frequently overslept. At one point, I was suspended for tardiness by Emperor Nero, who said: “Punctuality is crucial to suffering and death and I won’t tolerate delays.”
LINDSEY: As I mentioned, you were the Messiah’s favorite, known to many as “the disciple beloved of Jesus.” I was known to many as “the enabler beloved of Trump” and known to Senator Chuck Schumer, after I begged him not to seek vengeance and political retaliation, as “that sycophant Sothern Gothic goyische goblin.”
JOHN: Peter was so jealous of my relationship with Jesus, so catty. He’d say, “I don’t understand why you’re His favorite. I’m a much better fisherman.” I’d say, “Peter, please. I have a thirty-two-inch waist and no one cares if you catch a lot of fish because all Jesus needs is two fish, preferably branzini, then He glances toward Heaven, He gives thanks, He breaks the fish, and somehow He feeds five thousand people—and the real miracle is that each and every portion is deboned.” I remember, once, Jesus hosted an intimate dinner for fifteen hundred and Peter proudly presented Him with ten fish, to which Jesus replied, “Peter, this is so wasteful.” To which Peter snapped, “You’re King of the Jews. Your guests will expect to take home leftovers.” Then Jesus picked up a twig, glanced toward Heaven, gave thanks, and broke the twig into fifteen hundred to-go boxes.
LINDSEY: Saint Peter has always been my personal favorite. No offense.
JOHN: None taken. Although I am compelled to ask: Why, queen?
LINDSEY: Because Peter patrols the pearly gates, so really he’s Heaven’s maître d’. I like to picture him turning away Gandhi because the nonviolent civil rights activist and philosopher is inappropriately attired. I love the idea of Peter saying: “I’m sorry, Mahātmā, not without shoes. This isn’t Olive Garden.” As you know, John, I am always smartly dressed in either a navy or charcoal suit, crisp white or pale blue shirt, and one of my many exotic repp ties. But I’m a United States Senator, a professional parasite, a barnacle with a pension, so every morning before leaving my Washington, D.C., home, I model my ensemble for my American Girl doll collection. Sometimes Ashlyn, a “princess-in-training,” will veto my necktie. She’ll say something like: “Lindsey, sugar, we’ve talked about turquoise. I know it brings out your eyes, but the last time you wore that color Marjorie Taylor Greene labeled you a ‘suspicious bachelor.’”
JOHN: You just need to butch it up a little.
LINDSEY: You should talk, John the Evangelist, John the Divine, John the Bottom!
JOHN: Yes, it’s true, Jesus and I had an intimate relationship.
LINDSEY: What are you sayin’, darlin’, you were His caddy?
JOHN: Jesus and I were lovers, shared a tent on the Mount of Olives on more than one occasion. I broke off my engagement to a wonderful woman, Leila, so I could sleep with the Son of God. But that doesn’t make me gay, right?
LINDSEY: Of course not. That makes you a starfucker.
LINDSEY: A man isn’t a reprehensible homosexual because he repeatedly has sex with other men. What makes a man a reprehensible homosexual is if he marries another man, coparents a child with another man, doesn’t tip “Dominant Viking” extra for kissing. I’m a proud Baptist who believes that the Supreme Court’s two thousand fifteen Obergefell ruling should be overturned and that gay marriage will most certainly lead to the legalization of polygamy and that Patti LuPone was robbed of the nineteen eighty-eight Tony Award for her performance as Reno Sweeney in the Broadway revival of “Anything Goes.”
JOHN: But I so loved what Joanna Gleason did with the Baker’s Wife in Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” and so did Jesus. Our Savior, Protector, and Redeemer has said that Joanna’s performance was “gorgeously nuanced,” while Patti was “vague and loud, as usual.”
LINDSEY: Well, the Source of Eternal Salvation for all who obey Him can kiss my ass. Patti is an unrivaled powerhouse. Former Vice President Mike Pence and I would argue frequently. He insisted that Betty Buckley was the greatest musical theatre belter of all time. I would say, “Mike, sweetheart, you know I love Betty—for the touring company.”
JOHN: Christ thinks Patti is overrated.
LINDSEY: Fine, I’m an atheist.
JOHN: Oh, girl, don’t be like that. It’s subjective.
LINDSEY: Patti LuPone is not subjective! She’s flawless, breathtaking, a virtuoso! She is the Source of Eternal E-flats for all those who worship her!
JOHN: Then why didn’t she play Eva Peron at the matinees?
LINDSEY: I really, really hate you.
JOHN: And why was Eva’s second act tour de force, “Rainbow High,” such a struggle for Patti?
LINDSEY: It’s a struggle for everyone—you bitch!
JOHN: We should change the topic. There’s something insidious now that wasn’t around during my time, two thousand years ago.
LINDSEY: Non-traditional casting?
JOHN: People call it “gay pride.”
LINDSEY: Qu’est-ce que ç’est—“pride”?
JOHN: It’s when homosexuals are open about their preferences, unashamed of their consuming desires, candid about their skincare regimens. It’s when they feel a sense of self-esteem, refuse to be perceived as lacking dignity, push for civility, equality, and mandatory background checks for sommeliers. It’s all the rage.
LINDSEY: I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and several rent boys.
JOHN: You expressed a concern that legalizing gay marriage would encourage a demand for legalizing polygamy. Why hasn’t that happened? Why haven’t polygamists organized?
LINDSEY: Exhaustion. Lack of focus. All those wives. Remembering their birthdays, the anniversaries, who hasn’t used her vacation days.
JOHN: Should we take questions from the audience?
LINDSEY: From these people? God help us.
JOHN: They do have a judgmental, hypercritical, unforgiving air about them. Very Leviticus. But I’m up for the challenge. Raise your hands, interfectores Christi!
LINDSEY: (pointing) Yes, you, the woman wearing the chunky baroque statement necklace.
WOMAN: (standing up) Hello. My name is Tzipporah Zablodowski.
LINDSEY: I’m sorry to hear that.
JOHN: Were you named after an eye chart?
WOMAN: I don’t believe in Jesus Christ.
LINDSEY: Quelle surprise.
JOHN: You don’t believe that He was the Son of God?
WOMAN: I don’t believe he existed at all because he was supposedly Jewish, which means his mother, Mary—like that’s a name—was Jewish and no Jewish mother would allow her son to walk around looking like that. The long hair, the beard, the tunic, the sandals. Who’s gonna hire him? If I’d been his mother, I would’ve said: “Jesus, bubbeleh, I know you cured a leper, but I still can’t say, ‘My son, the doctor.’”
LINDSEY: If you raise your hand, Ms. Za-blah-blah-blah, you’re expected to propose a question.
WOMAN: What is this, Jeopardy?
JOHN: Only for us.
WOMAN: Alright, John, alright, I have question: Was Jesus Christ, the alleged son of God… was he, y’know… good in bed?
JOHN: I’m not comfortable talking about The Almighty…
LINDSEY: Answer the fucking question, pillow-biter.
WOMAN: Suddenly you’re shy?
JOHN: I’ll say only this: Jesus was sexy, seductive, passionate, but, according to the Bible, He is also known for proudly exclaiming, “And, behold, I come quickly!”
LINDSEY: I think the Resurrection may have been premature as well. I mean, it was only three days.
JOHN: I know, right? Give us a chance to miss You.
WOMAN: I have a question for you as well, Senator.
LINDSEY: No, I have never received an injection of Botox and neither has Melania.
JOHN: Oh, please, her skin looks like suede.
WOMAN: I have a gorgeous Donna Karan belt made of Melania. But that wasn’t my question. I want to know, Senator Graham, if you have a special pet name for twice-impeached, utterly disgraced, former President Donald J. Trump.
LINDSEY: “Mister Snuffleupagus”—because Donald’s a mammoth and also my imaginary friend.
WOMAN: But why are you such a loyalist? Are you in love with him?
LINDSEY: Homosexuality is a sin. Swooning over Donald Trump is patriotism. You must admit, there’s something very alluring about Donald.
WOMAN: If you’re into influential garbage heaps.
JOHN: I should be getting back to the New Testament.
WOMAN: Is that like Narnia?
LINDSEY: And I should be getting back to a constituency for whom ignorance is bliss and Dairy Queen’s Cherry Slushy is an apéritif.
WOMAN: By the way, Senator, you’re even more Caucasian in person. And I loved you in “Steel Magnolias.” What’s your drag name?
LINDSEY: “Della Gate.”
JOHN: (as an aside to LINDSEY) Condemnant quo non intellegunt.
WOMAN: (pleased with herself, to JOHN) Veni, vidi, vici!
LINDSEY: (as an aside to JOHN) Blow out your candles, Laura.