Because I don't think I could pull off Jules from Pulp Fiction
June 24, 2014 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm taking a beginning acting class for kicks and giggles, and our instructor has asked us all to pick a 1-2 minute monologue we'd like to work on performing. I'm having a tough time coming up with something. Can you give me ideas?

Other than the "under 2 minute" requirement, there aren't any explicit limits - we can pick something from a movie, play, TV show or whatever (probably not a book, as I think we need to have seen it performed previously). Our instructor suggests that we pick a character that is like us, but I can't really think of many monologues by late 30s, cheerfully nerdy, not-at-all-feminine ladies, so while I'm not opposed to the idea I'm willing to go farther afield.

My favorite characters and movies tend to be silly or sarcastic ones (though I HATE things like Dumb and Dumber), or in the fantasy genre (I have watched the LOTR trilogy more times than anybody should admit); since I'm just doing this for fun, right now I'm thinking I might try something a little ridiculous, like this (modified) Vizzini monologue or the Booing Lady from The Princess Bride (I got the latter idea from this previous monologue question), or maybe some non-singing part from a Disney villain, or - I dunno - some extended George Costanza rant ... but nothing so far has really struck me as THE thing I'd like to try.

So that's where I am, and I'm open to pretty much anything. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them - thanks in advance!
posted by DingoMutt to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Steve Buscemi's rant on tipping from Pulp Fiction (you'll need to modify some to make it a monologue)

Chaos is a Ladder from Game of Thrones

Something, anything from the Vagina Monologues (my brain went immediately to the "combination of fish and lilacs" line.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:25 AM on June 24, 2014

Maybe Jodie Foster convincing suit guys about space travel could be fun?
posted by mbrock at 7:25 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Why I Got Into Comedy," by Mark McKinney from the Kids in the Hall.
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:29 AM on June 24, 2014

Some of Glados's dialogue from Portal? Reenacting her "death throes" during the final battle could actually work really well (she has a bit of an arc there, from cocky self assurance, to "oh shit, I might be in trouble, let's try to neg Chele into giving up", to desparation.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:29 AM on June 24, 2014

Annie's Church of Baseball/Love of Sex monologue from Bull Durham
posted by carmicha at 7:32 AM on June 24, 2014

How aboput Jack Nicholson's rant in the diner from "Five Easy Pieces?"
posted by Rad_Boy at 7:33 AM on June 24, 2014

I've always loved O-Ren Ishi in Kill Bill 1. It's just ~1 minute.
"As your leader, I encourage you to -- from time to time and always in a respectful manner -- to question my logic. If you're unconvinced a particular plan of action I've decided is the wisest, tell me so. But allow me to convince you. And I will promise you, right here and now, no subject will be taboo ... except, of course, the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or my American heritage as a negative is, I collect your fucking head. (holds up a decapitated head) Just like this fucker here. Now if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, NOW'S THE FUCKING TIME!! ... I didn't think so.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:37 AM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

There are a lot of collections of monologues expressly for students to use in class.

However - I'm trying to assess your gender, because if you're a chick there is an awesome monologue from the play M. Butterfly I used in class once which was amazingly fun. (You're a ditz talking about how funny it is that guys are so obsessed over the size of their penises.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 AM on June 24, 2014

Or, in 9 to 5 when Dolly Parton confronts Dabney Coleman about spreading the rumor that they were having an affair?
posted by carmicha at 7:39 AM on June 24, 2014

You might consider slightly abridging Alec Baldwin's scene from "Glengarry Glen Ross". It's so stupidly over-the-top masculine that pulling it off as a woman would be great.

Alternately, you could go with a shortened version of Ned Beatty's "Forces of Nature" speech from "Network". If you stop at the "YOU. WILL. ATONE.", it's almost exactly 2 minutes. This would also be a great cross-gender vibe (I would love to see Meryl Streep do this one, or even Angelina Jolie).
posted by DWRoelands at 7:46 AM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Dory's speech about being able to remember when she's around Marlin from "Finding Nemo" is a particularly good one and heartbreaking.
posted by inturnaround at 7:50 AM on June 24, 2014

Steve Buscemi's rant on tipping from Pulp Fiction

I just want to say for the record that I know that the scene is from reservoir dogs, and I knew that I typed the wrong movie, and I made a mental note to fix it and didn't and then 5 minutes went by while I watched the final boss fight from Portal again.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:54 AM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

However - I'm trying to assess your gender, because if you're a chick

I am a woman, but not at all feminine - I generally avoid things that feel too gendered to me (I don't even like calling the bag I carry around a "purse"). So while parts for women or men are both cool, I think I'd prefer ones that aren't really focused on girls vs. boys type stuff (although the scene you're describing does sound like fun for the right actor, EC!).

Thanks for all the great suggestions so far - in just a few minutes I've gone from having a hard time because I couldn't think of anything to pick, to having a hard time because I've got so many cool ideas to pick from (but do please keep them coming)! I love Metafilter.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:56 AM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

I recently did this one from "The Worker" for an audition and it was fun. It seems to start fairly normally and gets more and more unhinged as you go, plus the length is about right.
posted by Monster_Zero at 8:04 AM on June 24, 2014

Thinking of Network (1976), if you don't mind building to a big ol' scenery-chewing finish, the "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" speech is a good one.

If you wanted to play it a bit... cooler, the Agent Smith "Humanity is a virus" speech from The Matrix might work.

Break a leg!
posted by Tara-dactyl at 8:06 AM on June 24, 2014

Bill Murray's story about the Dalai Lama from Caddyshack.
posted by xil at 9:02 AM on June 24, 2014

Also, the "Greed Is Good" speech by Michael Douglas in Wall Street
posted by DWRoelands at 9:11 AM on June 24, 2014

I really love this incredibly stupid dog eulogy from Half Baked.
posted by mskyle at 9:21 AM on June 24, 2014

Is there anything by Janeane Garofalo, Roseanne Barr, Daria or Rosie O'Donnell that piques your interest?
posted by jillithd at 9:32 AM on June 24, 2014

This speech from The Fisher King by Mercedes Ruehl is a good one.
posted by tomboko at 9:34 AM on June 24, 2014

To the Pain from Princess Bride?

Also - there was recently a post on the Blue called the Beyoncelogues - If I were a boy taking story-ish song lyrics into a monologue? Any songs that pique your interest?
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 9:40 AM on June 24, 2014

Top Dollar's monologue from The Crow. Bonus points: Michael Wincott.
posted by bfranklin at 10:11 AM on June 24, 2014

Chevy Chase's rant at his boss from Christmas Vacation is pretty funny/ridiculous.
posted by forforf at 10:15 AM on June 24, 2014

You could do a lot worse than Bruce McCulloch's monologues from Kids In The Hall.
posted by carsonb at 10:54 AM on June 24, 2014

Do the opening speech from Patton.
posted by The World Famous at 12:01 PM on June 24, 2014

Here's the speech.
posted by The World Famous at 12:03 PM on June 24, 2014

You can't go wrong with Tennessee Williams. Here's a classic clip from Night of the Iguana: a drunk Richard Burton (the Rev T. Lawrence Shannon) almost loses his job escorting religious old ladies on a bus tour of Mexico:

Shannon will emerge triumphant

I will now demonstrate to you how a man of integrity brings an almost insolvable situation to a triumphant conclusion.

I think it would be a fun one to work with ...
posted by kanewai at 1:39 PM on June 24, 2014

Chunk's confession from The Goonies? (text)
posted by zix at 3:27 PM on June 24, 2014

Miranda is female and nerdy in a very funny way!
posted by Mistress at 4:34 PM on June 24, 2014

I love, love, love the marquise de Merteuil's speech about how she became so calculating. I just watched it again and got chills. A perfect two minutes.

You seem really cheerful and fun so it's definitely playing against type! But it would be a challenge to perfect the timing and cadence and subtlety, and there's a million different ways to give that speech so it'd be fun to try different ways.
posted by mochapickle at 4:49 PM on June 24, 2014

If you want kooky, there's always V for Vendetta, the "Voila, in view a humble vaudevillian veteran.." self-intro.
posted by xyzzy at 10:56 PM on June 24, 2014

This suggestion might be a bit obscure, but Sean Penn did a really swell mumbled soliloquy in the 1990 film State of Grace. Text in the Quotes: "So I was in Boston..."

It's a really sharp edge between straight and self-parody. Gotta play it straight.
posted by ovvl at 5:23 PM on June 25, 2014

Demigod from A... My Name is Alice. This piece was written by Richard LaGravenese
posted by luckynerd at 8:28 PM on June 26, 2014

Just realized I'd never gone back to update this, but thank you all for the excellent ideas! I ultimately decided I've always wanted to play at being a Vizzini-like character, so I went with a monologue from him after all, but our instructor ended up letting us pick a second monologue as well so I'm going with mbrock's suggestion of Jodi Foster from Contact for that. I've favorited a few others I want to keep in mind for future classes (I'm already rather bummed that my current one is almost over!) - sparklemotion, I hadn't even thought of pulling from a computer game so thanks for opening up that whole other source for mining. Every choice here sounds like an excellent one - I only wish I could do ALL THE MONOLOGUES ...

(and for anybody reading this who might be considering a first-time acting class themselves, I would heartily recommend it - it's been so much fun!)

Thanks again, everyone!
posted by DingoMutt at 6:27 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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