[Santa’s Workshop, the North Pole. It is Christmas Eve, and the warm glow of the shop illuminates the gently falling snow outside. Stillness hangs in the air, but also the weight of expectation; of joys soon to come. Any time now, the elves will walk out to the nearby barn and hook the reindeer to Santa’s sleigh, where they will perform the time-honored duty of delivering to every good chil--]
BLITZEN: Augh, screw it! Screw Christmas in its cute little button-nosed face! (paws angrily at the warm earth of his stable)
PRANCER: Now, now dear. You know these outbursts don’t do you any good.
BLITZEN: Out of my business, Prancer! You know it just gets worse every year!
CUPID: (peers out from the top of her stable) Is old Blitzkrieg firing his guns again?
PRANCER: No, Cupid. And if he were, you wouldn’t be helping right now.
CUPID: Uh-huh. (shouts over) C’mon, Blitzen—cheer up! It’ll all be over before you know it!
BLITZEN: That’s exactly it! We do this job for one night every year without fail and what do we get? Less recognition and more disappointment every time we do it!
PRANCER: That’s not true, Blitzen. They still love us. Why, we’re a household name!
BLITZEN: Sure we are, if our name is “Those Eight Reindeer!” Do we ever get any applause for the each of us? No! But who does? Jolly old milk and cookie-ass, of course, like he’d ever be able to do it by himself. Oh, and who could ever forget—
COMET: Oh, no; here comes the “R” word…
[There’s a collective groan from the stables]
COMET: Seriously, man, you just need to let the whole Rudolph thing go.
BLITZEN: Why should I? The little freak makes one run—one run—and he’s an instant star!
CUPID: It helps when your nose shines like one. (giggle)
BLITZEN: But does Mr. Tinseltown stay? No! As soon as he’s “the most famous reindeer of all,” BAM!—Right out the door! Abandoning us for all his movie and record deals. Is that how a true reindeer should behave?!
DONNER: (rises over her stable) That’s not what I heard.
COMET: (sighs) It never is, Donner.
DONNER: I heard that Rudolph planned on coming back, but they found out his red nose was more than just genetics, if you know what I mean.
[Seven blank faces stare at her.]
You know… (raises a hoof to her nose and gives an exaggerated snort)
[A chorus of “Ohh…”s rise from the stables.]
BLITZEN: Still shows what a waste of fame and alfalfa he was, if you ask me. Yet he’s still the big name. Those stupid humans can’t even get all of our names on one try!
VIKKSON: (rises with a start) Who’s talking about names?!
COMET: Kris Kringle on a candy cane, Blitzen! Look what you’ve done now!
VIKKSON: You all think you have it bad, don’tcha. “Oh, woe is me! They don’t know my name!” Well boo freakin’ hoo to you! Be thankful that they don’t, or they’d just butcher it like they did mine! That lazy, fat toy elf couldn’t articulate one time and what did I get stuck as?! “Vixen, the slutty reindeer!”
PRANCER: It was the best the humans could do, Vik. Let’s be honest: your name does sound a little… odd.
VIKKSON: (huffs) Odd?! It’s Norse, woman! Means “Son of Vikk!” And not “Wait ‘til he passes out at the eggnog party and dress him in high heels and a bunny tail” like some people would think! (leers at Dancer).
DANCER: (smirks) Well, you know. The dialect can make things fuzzy sometimes.
VIKKSON: See?! Such disrespect! Why do I even take it?!
DONNER: Oh, please. It could’ve been much worse, you know. They could’ve mistaken you as “Donder” for all these years!
[Seven blank faces stare at her.]
What?! It sounds icky! Like a scalp condition or something!
BLITZEN: (ignoring Donner) Are we all agreed then that the humans have not given us the attention we sentries of the sleigh deserve?
[Several reindeer grumble in agreement]
COMET: Well, when you put it a certain way, maybe you’re right. I mean, every year we get a little bit older and more out of shape, yet we do the same work we’ve always had and no one seems to care anymore. (sighs) Every year they have to let out my straps a little more…
DANCER: Hey, baby. I’ve been hooked behind you for over 200 years, so let me just say that a little more junk in your trunk has been a worthy investment to your rear estate.
COMET: (stares at Dancer) Nice try, but you’re still never going to get any reindeer games from me, pal.
DANCER: Your loss, baby. I hear there’s a much easier target under the mistletoe, anyway (makes a kissy face at Vikkson).
VIKKSON: BY THOR, A THOUSAND BOLTS UPON YOUR HEAD!! (leaps out of his stable and onto Dancer. The other reindeer cheer them on as they fight until one who has been watching silently in the back finally rises to his feet.)
DASHER: Enough, you flyin’ flea buffets!
(The reindeer quiet down immediately, some stopping in mid-shout.)
Dancer. Apologize to Vikkson!
DANCER: (reluctant) Sorry…
DASHER: Sorry for what?
DANCER: (mutters) Sorry for mocking the prejudicial undertones unfairly accredited to you by the misconstruing of your name, okay?
VIKKSON: Uh… okay.
DASHER: (snorts his approval, then turns his attention towards the others) Now for all of you; I’ve never seen such rotten spirit in my life, and on Christmas Eve of all nights!
BLITZEN: Don’t fry the moss off your antlers, old timer. Of all of us here, you should agree with us most. You’ve had to deal with these no-glory runs the longest!
DASHER: You’re right; I certainly have. But unlike you stiff-tailed complainers, I’m thankful for my job! Don’t any of you remember our most sacred credo?!
CUPID: Only do your business over bodies of water and interstate turnpikes?
DASHER: Wise words, but the wrong ones nonetheless. No, the saying that bound the first order of flying reindeer was, “Live to deliver!”
PRANCER: Sounds noble.
BLITZEN: Sounds like UPS.
DASHER: You just don’t get it, do you. We’re not the best out there anymore. You know how long Boeing’s been crammin’ its nose down Santa’s chimney trying to secure delivery rights?! But he won’t hear any of it! You know why? Because the people still want their gifts brought to them by someone they know is devoted to bringing them joy!
BLITZEN: Then why don’t they learn more about us!?
DASHER: Because they can’t! Do you want to be a star like Rudolph? Swamped in attention, every little dirty secret about you exposed until there’s just an empty shell for people to hold on to? We’re appreciated more being the silent, distant givers that we are; that they know we are motivated by them even if we don’t always particularly enjoy it.
DONNER: Like XBox year.
COMET: That was a long night… (shudders)
BLITZEN: Fine, old timer. You’ve made your point. I’ll perform my duty, but I’m still in no mood to like it.
DASHER: Fair enough, but I think your mood will lift by morning.
(An elf walks into the barn holding a checklist)
ELF: All right, reindeer. I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the only thing any of the kids want this year is an iPod Nano.
(A chorus of cheers rises from the stables.)
COMET: Our backs are saved!
VIKKSON: May Steve Jobs be flown to Valhalla on the backs of valkyries!
ELF: Wait, now. The bad news is that our load is so unbelievably light this year that hooking up more than one of you to the sleigh will overpower it and seriously throw off our delivery times.
(The reindeer stare at the elf, wide-eyed. Several seconds pass in silence.)
DANCER: Not I!
DONNER: Not I!
COMET: Not I!
CUPID: Not I!
VIKKSON: Not I!
PRANCER: Not I!
BLITZEN: Not I!
DASHER: Whu—er, not—dangnabbit!