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Work In Progress
Original Broadcast Date
Tim Jerome, Tess Steincolk, Arthur Miller, Larry Block, Paul Mantell, Joe Frank
Improv Actors, Real People, Absurd Monologue, 60 minutes
Preceded by: Nausea
Followed by: Great Lives

"So what happened to my church was what happened to many churches..."

Bad is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Work In Progress. It was originally broadcast in 1989. It is similar to Building A Church.


A fellow with an East European accent (Tim Jerome) recounts running a church in his home country. It had all sorts of social programs, but when it introduced real religion it was converted to a public bath and mining camp and he was made a janitor in a factory.

1:30: He ran away by jumping onto a truck. When it came near a river, he jumped out, swam to a freighter, ended up on a banana boat to Indonesia. The ship got lost, ended up in England. From there he got work on a dirigible, flew to Indiana. From there he skateboarded to Kentucky, spent 3 days riding around on an amusement park train. Then he rode a motorbike to Salinas, Oklahoma, got a job at a church, became pastor, but left. When Joe asked why, he said it was in litigation, his lawyers told him not to talk about it.

7:10: A fellow, speaking in a strained, loud voice, tells a nonsense history of how churches were built, that stained glass was invented by spilling wine on glass.[1]

10:20: He continues describing the use of bells on ships and in churches.

12:20: Then he explains the invention of tools from stones and animal teeth.

13:20: An old Jewish man (Arthur Miller?) visits his son (Paul Mantell?), who tells him that he has converted to Christianity, to his dismay.[2]

15:30: The fellow with the loud, strained voice says that Notre Dame was built only after Victor Hugo's famous novel set there, then a bogus account of the building of the cathedral at Chartres. Then he launches into an extravagant account of Leopold I of Sardinia building a massive cathedral at Boganville (sp?) beginning in 1215. When it was finally complete, in 1815, it collapsed.

21:10: A woman (Tess Steincolk) tells about her mother getting mad at her and her younger sister, telling them she was going to sell them to the Gypsies. The mother kept this up long enough that they were in tears at the gas station, when she told them they were going to visit their Aunt Margaret, which they did every summer.[3]

28:20: 'The spirit cannot fail' (Bill Nelson)

30:10: 'I go to church I like to sprinkle two piles of broken glass, molten ashes, thumbtacks, and carpet tacks on the floor and kneel down on them for hours...' A masochist tells us what he does in church to get the attention of Esmeralda. A fellow reproves him for his behavior, then asks him to come to his office, he's interested in a business opportunity.[3]

32:50: This fellow becomes the messianic leader of his own cult, performs miraculous healings: 'deaf become psychiatrists,... Mutes ascend podiums, declaim from papal balconies, conduct telethons, and host talk shows. The crippled are transformed into decathlon champions... the dead rise, freshen up, catch up on the latest trends in music, science, hairstyles, and join the legions of the living.'

36:00: A carload of beautiful young women come to his mansion, have an orgy with him.

38:20: A naughty yogi falls for hippie girls with 'big boobies'.[3]

39:00: Loud, strained voice guy is back with explicit instructions for offerings to be made to him.

40:20: A guy (Eric Sears, uncredited?) recounts his bad behavior when he was young: mooching off his friends, stealing from them, driving over a bag lady, stabbing a guy in a restaurant so he could use the pay phone first, setting 3 or 4 nurses on fire. Then he wandered into a church, was uplifted, wanted to build one.

46:20: A guy explains that the burning of Giordano Bruno was a cooking accident. Then he goes on to say that the apostles fell into the water when they tried to follow Jesus, and gives a nonsense discourse on the Enlightenment, Moses and the 10 commandments, the conversion of churches into secular buildings and other things (sunglasses, Tupperware, Tiffany lamps...)

51:00: A guy (Larry Block) closes the show by telling Joe that he's disappointed with the turn his shows has taken, particularly this one; he liked only Tess Steincolk's story. He recommends Joe take a break, come up with new ideas.[3]

Legacy Synopsis

A minister is imprisoned, escapes using every imaginable transportation. Sounds of construction. The history of church building, windows, clock bells and time-keeping on ships by counting slowly, the history of tools, screws v/s nails. A son tells his Jewish father he's converting to Christianity. Notre Dame was built based on Hugo's description in NDDP. The cathedral of Chartres was originally a tiny church. A cathedral was built by slaves collapsed 600 years later and plunges the land into chaos. A woman talks about her mother pretending to sell her to gypsies. "This spirit cannot fail you" preacher. Mutilating oneself in church. Becoming the leader of a sect, an orgy in a tent, instructions for making offerings. The nature of love. A man takes advantage of everyone, kills people, experiences a conversion. Sounds of church building. The recycling of churches as secular buildings and consumer goods. Larry complains about the show, suggests Joe take a vacation.


Shared material

Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "With Tim Jerome, Tess Steincolk, Arthur Miller, Larry Block, Paul Mantell, and Joe Frank. This program was created in collaboration with David Rapkin, and was recorded and mixed by Jerry Summers. Special thanks to Richard Eisner and Nan Lieberman."



  1. This sounds like the voice Joe uses in The Dictator
  2. abridged from Jewish Blues
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 re-used in Woman And Bull In Paint Factory