Thursday, June 26, 2014

No Brown M&Ms: A Model Contract for Literary Performances

Those of you who have booked me for a lecture, poetry reading, radio spot, celebrity roast, bris, or beauty pageant have been getting off easy—or so my attorney, Fallon McPhael Jr., Esq., of the firm Try & McPhael, tells me.  He and his team have racked up a phenomenal number of billable hours in crafting my new standard contact for performances, which I post here for the edification of all.  Please note that while the contract does not specify the presence of a bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones picked out, my head security goon, Waldemar, gets antsy in the absence of such refreshments.  You do not want Waldemar to be antsy in the Green Room.


WHEREAS, the organizer identified on the Signature Page (“Organizer”) wishes to procure certain services; and
                WHEREAS, Robert Archambeau (“Archambeau”) is willing to provide certain services; and
                WHEREAS, Organizer and Archambeau (each, a “Party” and collectively the “Parties”) intend to attach to their proposed transaction the appearance of legality,
                THEREFORE, the Parties agree to this Standard Contract for Performance (“Agreement”) as follows:
Organizer agrees to pay to Archambeau $____________ upon execution of the Agreement.
Organizer agrees to cooperate with Archambeau in characterizing the nature of the Payment for tax purposes.  This includes (without limitation) documenting the payment as Payment for services OR, at Archambeau’s sole discretion, as any of the following (all listed on IRS Publication 525 (2013) as categories of “Other Income”):
  • alimony
  • a bribe
  • an energy conservation subsidy
  • Exxon Valdez settlement income
  • a railroad retirement annuity payment
  • an IRS whistleblower award
Organizer shall arrange Archambeau’s transportation.  This transportation must be so smooth and continuous that Archambeau does not realize that he is being transported.  He must be able to lightly hold a cup of coffee during the entire experience and be assured that not a single drop will fall outside the cup for transport-related reasons.
Organizer shall arrange for a private area where, upon arrival, Archambeau may shed all his clothes, be measured by Savile Row tailors, and have a suit manufactured for him on the spot before proceeding to the performance venue.
On the way to the performance venue, Archambeau shall be driven through the streets in a chariot, in the manner of a Roman triumph.  A sad-faced clown shall accompany him, whispering to Archambeau to remember that he will die.
Immediately prior to the performance, Organizer shall provide Archambeau with a small conference room, five (5) packs of index cards, a Pilot G2 black ink pen, and a xylophone, which if played properly will produce an air of melancholy that may settle over the entire world.  A crock of poutine shall be manned at all times, with a crooked sign attached saying “All You CARE To Eat”.
In exchange for the Payment, Archambeau shall provide a Performance.  Any of the following may constitute a Performance, satisfying the terms of this Agreement:
  • inaudible murmuring, mixed with beatboxing
  • involuntary baptism of one or more audience member
  • an a capella performance of the Squeeze hit, “Black Coffee In Bed”
  • bare-knuckle boxing with former United States Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, or other former United States Poet Laureate of similar girth
  • founding a sovereign state
  • popping a wheelie (bicycle)
  • failing to pop a wheelie (unicycle)
  • polling the audience on the Oxford comma, pitting sides against one another
  • waxing nostalgic about library reference cards
  • making innocent comments about other nationalities
  • explaining in detail how to sort recyclables
  • disparaging the manhood of beloved comedy icon Bob Newhart
  • tearfully apologizing to beloved comedy icon Bob Newhart
  • something about poetry
This list is provided solely for purposes of illustration.  A Performance will consist of any action or inaction taken by Archambeau during the designated time of the event.
Organizer shall make have ready to following songs to be played on pre-set cues before, during, and immediately after Archambeau makes his presentation:
  • Gary Glitter, “Rock and Roll, Part 2”
  • The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, “Shake Your Moneymaker”
  • Bananarama, “Cruel Summer”
  • Bing Crosby, “Little Drummer Boy”
  • Deee-Lite, “Groove Is In the Heart”
Archambeau shall require, and Organizer shall provide, an entourage (“Entourage”) to consist of the following members:
Pursuer of Thieves to confront any audience member who may have stolen any personal item or idea from Archambeau, as determined in Archambeau’s sole discretion.  The Pursuer of Thieves shall be dressed in full military uniform, including with a spiked helmet of the style favored by the Kaiser in the First World War.
Hype Man or Woman to exhort the audience with false promises and blandishments, to shout nonsense excitedly, to gibber and moan, such that crowd is in mass hysteria before Archambeau utters a single word.
Fastidious Belgian with whom Archambeau may share private, disparaging remarks regarding the Organizer, the audience, and America.   The Fastidious Belgian shall also be in charge of the frites.
NOTE:  Belgian, not French!  Fastidious, not fussy!
An Adoring Biographer who Archambeau may intentionally disillusion by first refusing to answer questions directly, and then by bluntly stating the harder truths of a poet/critic’s life.
Frenemy of Archambeau’s who may say, or to whom may be said, “we’re not so different, you and I…”
All members of the Entourage shall be employees or contractors of the Organizer.  While Entourage members will be subject to Archambeau’s direction, under no circumstances shall Archambeau be required to pay bail for any of them.
In addition to the Entourage, Archambeau shall bring, and Organizer shall provide room, board, and a stipend of $100 a day each for, a retainer (“Retainer”) to consist of the following members:
Lila Archambeau Impersonator.  In the event of audience unrest, the Lila Archambeau Impersonator may rush onto the stage to plead for Archambeau’s life.  Due to the associated danger, Archambeau employs a variety of diminutive adult actresses to play this role.  Many actresses willing to play this role have a criminal background.
NOTE:  A designated indoor smoking MUST must be provided for the Lila Archambeau Impersonator.  
NOTE:  All Organizer employees who have backstage access must be cautioned not to in any way provoke the Lila Archambeau Impersonator.
An Illegal Cheese Mule.  Self-explanatory.
The Parties agree that all disputes between them shall be committed to binding arbitration (“Arbitration”), as described below.  Organizer shall bear the cost of arbitration.
Organizer shall select an island, atoll, or archipelago for Arbitration (“Arbitration Venue”).  Organizer shall assure that the Arbitration Venue is without any human habitation, and is not accessible to anyone other than those involved in the Arbitration.
Organizer shall bring twelve (12) infants under the age of six months to the Arbitration Venue (“Jurors”).  Each Juror shall be assigned to one of three Juror Panels.  
The First Juror panel shall be the Deontologists, or Deons.  The Deon Jurors shall be trained to articulate and uphold moral imperatives, whatever the cost.  Their sigil shall be a man on fire, refusing to douse it with water that isn’t his.
The Second Juror panel shall be the Stenographers.  The Stenographer Jurors shall be raised to observe and record, expertly taking in all sense-data.  In all other matters, they should be lean and ignorant.
The Third Juror panel shall be the Whoopsies.  The Whoopsie Jurors shall be raised by a team of improv comics, who will teach them that life is a joke, and the only rational response to tragedy is to take audience suggestions and be ready to imitate a bicycle horn.
Until they every Juror reaches the age of 18, the Juror Panels shall be kept isolated from one another.  When each Juror is at least 18 years old, they shall be locked in a building with one another and a Henry Fonda impersonator.  The Jurors will then have one day to decide unanimously the dispute between the Parties.  Should they fail to do so, the Jurors will be deported from the Arbitration Venue and Organizer shall convene a new jury from scratch.
This Agreement shall be the entire agreement between the Parties.  This Agreement completely preempts and displaces all other legal relations between the parties, such as might otherwise be imposed by contract, custom, municipal or tribal law, state law, federal law, the law of the sea, the law of averages, or Murphy’s Law.    
/signatures, etc/

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