The story is of the moment that the clown loses control of what he/she is doing on stage and rebels against what is demanded of him. He does this firstly by not giving the audience the jokes they expect but by performing some forced rituals of entertainment – monkey noises, nut throwing - then by making some nonsensical statement rejecting “the teacher” and finally by leading them in a prayer to “Bill” [Murry?] and “Lenny” [Henry?], at which point the compere realises something is dreadfully wrong and tries to intervene.
The clues to the sub-text are all quite clear; The knife like microphone to the clowns throat and the complete lack of concern from the compere or audience tell a tale of an audience’s greed for entertainment at all costs and a cruel industry (the compere) that is working to give the audience what they want no matter the consequences. The only respite from the dark and gloomy script is the audiences shout of “We believe!” when the clown demands that they believe in him as he has in them.
The story ends with a hint of the clown characters schizophrenia in suggesting that he blanked out while on stage: “I keep waking up…and I’ve been asleep. I…I… What am I doing?” and also compounds the sympathy we (the audience) feel for the clown by the compere’s back stage reaction to the ‘performance’ in threatening to ruin the clowns career. The clown sits down, demoralised and seemingly not listening to the compere “Can I undo? Can I undo? Can I undo?”