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Work In Progress
Original Broadcast Date
Evelyn/Chantal, Henry Dennis, Joe Frank
Absurd Monologue, Improv Actors, 58 minutes
Preceded by: Lines
Followed by: Five Part Dissonance

Gentlemen in striped pants, cutaway morning coats, white fronted vests.

Words is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Work In Progress. It was originally broadcast in 1988.


Joe's speech in this episode is distorted with the exception of the segment beginning at 8:50. A scholar at jfwiki.org claims that Theo Mondle told him/her 'that the robotic effect was from a Yamaha SPX90 effects processor, using an analog EQ and a a parallel processing technique that Theo came up with.'

The 10 minutes beginning at 33 is surreal, not synopsizable; I quote some of it. The cast has a woman, Evelyn, who speaks with a French accent; scholars at jfwiki.org think that she also plays Chantal, the woman who gives Joe a bath in Rain.

0: Joe describes a fancy concert, 'Gentlemen in striped pants, cutaway morning coats, white-fronted vests and top hats, and ladies swathed in gowns and Russian furs, dripping in fresh water pearls and rough-cut emeralds…' of a pianist. He scopes out the beautiful women, prepares witty remarks to charm them. During intermission he follows one into the ladies' room, talks to her from an adjacent stall. After intermission he kisses another, she responds, he runs out with her to his horse-drawn carriage, where he prepares remarks for the convention.

6:20: A woman with a French accent talks about how tired she is with everything, including the person she's talking to.

8:50: Joe asks where she'd want to go, suggests an out-of-the-way beach. He's a director, motivating her in performing a scene, not an interlocutor.

10:30: Joe delivers a speech telling of his fitness for office.

12:10: Joe tells of a family arriving on an oil platform in a flotilla of paper bags. After years they move to the mainland, take menial jobs, their descendants eventually succeeding by becoming lawyers who snare innocents in Kafka-like lawsuits.[1]

16:10: A man (Henry Dennis) recounts his time playing in the band Mascara. Beautiful women swarmed him, tore his clothes off, pursued him constantly. They kidnapped him. After he was freed he quit music and dedicated himself to public service.[2]

21:40: Joe tells the origin of 'balance of payments': the people had to pay the ruler his weight in precious metals. Thus rulers ate themselves fat. Eventually one burst, his digestive juices digested the entire population.[1]

27:10: Evelyn recounts the first time she fell in love.[1]

28:20: Joe describes the misbehavior of his electronic garage door opener, 'it activated my neighbor's jacuzzi, set off car alarms down the block, turned off the rotisserie and Randy's chicken and rib across the street, and detonated the entire field of intercontinental ballistic missiles behind my house, bringing us to the brink of fail-safe.'[1]

29:10: Joe tells a woman what he wants her to wear, to do.

30:00: Joe describes last night's dream.

31:00: Joe gets stuck in a revolving door because he's on roller skates, listening to a Walkman.

31:20: Joe defines eternity: a small bird sharpens its beak on a mountain…

31:50: Joe lists ordinary things of which he's tired.[1]

33:00: 'Yesterday I walked by the zoo and saw my entire family being fed. I need a new isle of Langerhans, a new endocrine system, a new set of polyps and eyelashes. Yesterday I passed the clown-broth house and was accosted by crustaceans, embraced by bivalves, pinned to the wall with a lobster pin.

'I like to paint organs and my work has been published extensively in textbooks. Everyone in med school is familiar with my open thorax and extended colon series. Though lately, I've begun to paint only along the edge of the canvas.

'In my dream last night, I was in a very dark and crowded place. I was not in the human shape that I am now, but I was rather a colorless and cylindrical object among many other colorless and cylindrical objects. In my darkened space, tucked between the walls of a soft and forgiving substance, feeling a bumpy, striding motion, I resided endlessly next to a huge dollar bill. Then, finally, pulled from the dark space which I'd occupied, the envelope around me torn open by what appeared to be gigantic fingers trembling with passion, and extracted from the oily bath in which I'd been immersed, I could hear the muffled grunts and groans of yet another creature, and I gazed down at a great spire. And then my shape began to unroll and lengthen until fully draped over the tower I was plunged into wet, seething darkness and then out into the light again, and then deep into the darkness again, and then out into the light again, and in and out and in and out, and I was strained to the breaking point. And then some dreadful viscous substance was pumped into my underside. And the great pillar slowly assembled. And the same large fingers would move me, holding me between their very tips, and drop me into a pool, and the pool began to whirl, and the great vortex carried me down out of the light. And when, once again, I regained the light. There were many others of my kind, each one with a similar, yet somewhat different story. And together we all washed up on a beach with dirty needles, syringes, and vials of blood, where children gamboled and frolicked in the surf.' (Sounds of children)

37:20: Joe describes his adventures while wandering in Beirut; they're surreal.

38:20: 'I'm going to Pebble, Fencer and Myre. In the mailroom, brown shoes, square, in the dead of night, I idle away the hours blowing seeds off dandelions and studying the crazy shapes of clouds, lying on my back in a summer field, among the hyacinths and forsythia. There are roadways paved with human skulls. Yes, the numbers are forever increasing in the legions of the dead.'[1]

39:00: Joe recalls 2 surreal dreams.[1]

43:30: Evelyn, her voice now distorted as Joe's, and Joe tell how sick they are of each other. Joe says he'll leave; she tells him to go ahead. They go at each other for 4 minutes.[2]

48:10: Joe says that he goes to museums to meet women, describes the conversations with which he tries to charm them.

50:30: Joe speaks at the Rotary club, makes the same speech he delivered at the convention.

51:40: The speech continues with Evelyn's lament of tiredness mixed in. The speech fades out, only Evelyn's lament is heard.

Legacy Synopsis

Joe in a low, distorted voice describes a upper class concert hall, stalking women at the concert. A woman in a french accent talks about being tired and wanting to escape, Joe coaches her dialog. A presidential candidate makes a speech: promising a vague but great future, immigrants mistaking an oil rig for America, middle class success for third generation immigrants. A rock star talks about being hounded and kidnapped by women, becomes an anti-feminist. Setting taxes by weighing noblemen. French actress talks about falling in love. A faulty garage door opener almost leads to nuclear war. Describing a fantasy woman. Monologue describing dreams: a dream of an inflating mother, being trapped on roller skates in a revolving door, eternity is a mountain whittled away by a bird, being tired of life, being attacked by seafood, painting organs, the life of a condom, wondering through Beirut, buying insurance by the hour, being interviewed about ways to kill people, being a cartoon character spun off as a plastic doll, a list of things one needs, being oiled by women in a room full of video games with a glass floor while a man reads holy books, wanting to go away, watching an old man dance with a beautiful young girl. Joe in a distorted low voice and french woman discuss being sick of each other. Monologue: meeting women in art museums. Candidate speech dissolved into woman saying she is tired.


This is an incomplete record of the music in this program. If you can add more information, please do.

Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "With Evelyn, Henry Dennis, and Joe Frank. It was produced in the studios of KCRW Santa Monica, and mixed by Jeff Sykes."

Shared material

Joe re-used segments from this episode in Road To Hell (Remix) and Lover Man (which is identical to The Loved One (Remix))


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 re-used in Road To Hell (Remix)
  2. 2.0 2.1 re-used in Lover Man