Daniel Handler’s Play for The Rumpus 2.27.11 – the full text




It is important to note that the narrator was played by Daniel Handler, Daniel Handler was played by Oscar Villalon, whereas Lisa Brown and Wesley Stace were played by themselves.

The Story Of Daniel Handler, And How His Wife, The Ravishing, Buxom And Occasionally Ill-Tempered Lisa Brown, Was Almost Completely Seduced By The Well-Researched Charms Of Mr. Wesley Stace, Rogue and Rapscallion.

NARRATOR: The Daniel Handler Players are proud to present a new play by Daniel Handler, entitled The Story Of Daniel Handler, And How His Wife, The Ravishing, Buxom And Occasionally Ill-Tempered Lisa Brown, Was Almost Completely Seduced By The Well-Researched Charms Of Mr. Wesley Stace, Rogue and Rapscallion. It’s an absolutely true story, with only the dialog and story completely altered.


(introduce actors)

NARRATOR: Our play opens in a Forest Glen.  Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown are walking hither and thither, holding hands due to the fact that they are very much in love.  There is not a sound except for the cheeping of cheepy little birds, until the silence is broken by the melodious voice of Daniel Handler.




LISA BROWN: Yes, Darling?


DANIEL HANDLER: Light of my life?


LISA BROWN: Yes, Cupcake?  What is it you want to say?




LISA BROWN: Yes, Chickadee?  My ears are a twitter with what you will say next.


DANIEL HANDLER: My dearest love?


LISA BROWN: Yes, my reason for living?  Please, please, tell me what you want.


DANIEL HANDLER: I just wanted to know if you were happy.


LISA BROWN: Happy?  Why, every moment with you is a zillion-way tie for the absolute best moment of my entire life.  Each word from your lips is like a sip of fine wine, and speaking of lips, every kiss of yours is like an adventure to a new romantic world of rainbows and vodka.  Your literary career is basically that of a corporate hack, which allows us to live in splendor, treating ourselves to luxuries like Humboldt Fog goat cheese and Moleskine notebooks whenever we want.  And yet you’ve somehow retained some sort of artistic credibility that finds you putting on self-indulgent theater pieces for aging hipsters on the stages of bars in the Mission that don’t even serve hard liquor.  Plus, you treat me like a queen and you’re hung like a horse, so yes, my turtledove, I’m incredibly fucking happy.


DANIEL HANDLER: I’m glad to hear it.  I’m very happy myself.  If joy were a liquid I would be so full of it that my eyes would be bulging unnaturally from my joy-filled head.


LISA BROWN: You haven’t lost your knack for brilliant metaphors, honey.


DANIEL HANDLER: And you haven’t lost your knack for making me the happiest man in the world.  I’m sure that nothing can shatter our happiness, and that this line is in no way an example of dramatic irony.


NARRATOR: Alas, Daniel Handler has spoken too soon.  Even while he and Lisa Brown continue to murmur sweet nothings into each other’s happy and attractive ears, villainy is lurking.  In a hidden corner of the Forest Glen, a wretched man is plotting trouble.  But this was no ordinary wretched man.  This man is Wesley Stace, the highly accomplished songwriter and musician, not to mention the skilled and acclaimed novelist whose new book, Charles Jessold, Considered As A Murderer, has been praised as “quick-witted and clever” in the Telegraph and makes an appropriate gift for any decent person you might know.  Also, he has a phony, phony accent.


WESLEY STACE: Alas and alack!  I am ravaged with jealousy for Daniel Handler, as all men are.  No matter how enormous my cultural accomplishments, I find myself cowering under his very handsome shadow.  How can I defeat this paragon of art, culture and manhood?


NARRATOR: At that very moment, Daniel Handler leaves the Forest Glen for a minute to check his email, and Lisa Brown skips through the forest singing a little song.


LISA BROWN: La la la.  How I love nature, as long as there’s a fancy hotel nearby.


WESLEY STACE: Why, that’s Lisa Brown, Daniel Handler’s charming wife.  I’d recognize her anywhere after her flattering write-up in the School Library Journal.  This is my chance!  Why hello there, little girl.


LISA BROWN: Hello, strange man.


WESLEY STACE: I’m not just a strange man.  As you can hear from my accent, I’m from the country of England, located in Great Britain.


LISA BROWN: That’s where David Bowie is from, and Belle and Sebastian.


WESLEY STACE: They’re actually Scottish.


LISA BROWN: Close enough.  Well, I’m intrigued by your accent, but I must now return to my beloved husband Daniel Handler.


WESLEY STACE: Not so fast.  Did you know that I have released a number of albums, ranging from angry-young-man pop to traditional English folk ballads?


LISA BROWN: Why, those are two genres of music that can melt the heart of even the grimmest New Englander.


WESLEY STACE: One of my recent albums is titled Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead, in tribute to the novel by Barbara Comyns.


LISA BROWN: Why, she’s the sort of writer only read by overeducated weirdos like myself.


WESLEY STACE: I’m the sort of writer who composes novels on an assortment of esoteric, slightly twee topics that just might interest a pretentious woman such as yourself.


LISA BROWN: Like what?


WESLEY STACE: Like vast country estates in the 19th Century.




WESLEY STACE: And androgyny.




WESLEY STACE: And British boarding schools.




WESLEY STACE: And ventriloquism.




WESLEY STACE: And World War One prison camps.


LISA BROWN: Hubba hubba.


WESLEY STACE: And Schoenberg.


LISA BROWN: Take me, I’m yours – wait, what?


WESLEY STACE: Arnold Schoenberg, the Austrian composer who was a pioneer of the serialist movement.


LISA BROWN: You’re talking about difficult 20th Century classical music with a girl?  Wait a minute – you’re not a charming British dandy.  You’re just a nerd!


WESLEY STACE: Wait, my angel, I have some clippings here about the World War II British vaudeville scene–


LISA BROWN: Get away from me!


NARRATOR: Daniel Handler arrives, as he usually does, just in time.


DANIEL HANDLER: Sorry to keep you waiting.  I was listening to the music of Arnold Schoenberg, but of course I would never do such a thing in front of a lady.  Come, my love, let’s go home and put on that new Decemberists album.


LISA BROWN: My hero.


WESLEY STACE: Curses, foiled again.


NARRATOR: Indeed, the treacherous and lecherous spell of Wesley Stace has been shattered forever, not unlike the time Daniel Handler beat him in a Literary Death Match with only a little bit of cheating.  Lisa Brown runs into the arms of her husband, and immediately begins to make out…with the narrator of this play.