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Comparison of Pharmacist Transcript and Dead Parrot Sketch

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Allen08H
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Comparison of Pharmacist Transcript and Dead Parrot Sketch

Both Texts A and B focus on a ‘service encounter’, where a customer enters a shop, expecting an issue or complaint to be resolved. Whilst Text A follows many of the conventions of a service encounter, such as a question/answer structure, the parody purpose of Text B, coupled with the fact it is speech that is crafted to entertain the audience, both employs and mocks convention.
The common conventions of a service encounter are shown in a variety of ways in Text A. It opens with the pharmacist uttering the phatic ‘good morning’, who then follows this with the interrogative ‘can I help you’, which is to be expected in his role as advisor. Text B equally employs an opening greeting, ‘Hello’, but this unusually is from the customer instead of the shopkeeper, and the stage directions indicate that the shopkeeper wants to do anything but help, as he ‘tries to hide below [the] cash register’. This parody of generic conventions at the beginning of the scene sets the comedic tone for Text B, and emphasises that this scene is an artificial construct, created to amuse the audience and to mock social conventions. This is typical of Monty Python sketches, which often seek to ridicule convention and authority.
Both texts deal in different ways with the relationships between the participants. In Text A, the pharmacist shows a professional and helpful attitude by asking a range of pragmatic questions, such as ‘have you got a temperature’. He is consistently polite and seeks to maintain the customer’s ‘face’ at all times, and offers a range of advice and information, such as ‘mentholated bronchial balsam’ and ‘if you want to take it in…hot water’. The advice is expressed in declaratives which are politely softened by modals, ‘I would take’, ‘I would have thought’, and the pharmacist’s repetition of the customer’s elided phrase ,‘’bout two days’, suggests some professional sympathy with her complaint. The pharmacist is usually expected to use his knowledge and power to provide a solution to the customer’s problem, and here uses language that creates a tone of apparent sympathy and concern, in keeping with the professional requirements of this encounter.
Contrastingly, in Text B the shopkeeper is anything but helpful and refuses to sympathise with the customer’s complaint, as the pharmacist does in Text A. The shopkeeper has a determinedly positive view of the ‘Norwegian Blue’, using pre-modification to emphasise his reluctance to help, ‘remarkable’, ‘beautiful’. ‘Praline’, on the other hand, has a persistently negative attitude ‘…stone dead…definitely deceased…tired and shagged out…nailed…’, which is crafted as a humorous counterpoint to the shopkeeper’s blatant breaking of social convention, emphasised through the use of monosyllables, alliteration and non-standard slang lexis. These contrasting viewpoints ensure that the scene escalates in an absurdist and irrational fashion, which both allows the writers to demonstrate their humour and wit, and to entertain the audience.
The structures of both Texts A and B follow the conventional question/answer format of a service encounter. However, Text B contains the unusual structural device of the customer asking several questions of the shopkeeper, in contrast to Text A, showing the lack of respect for convention. Some of the texts’ structural devices are particular to their purposes and contexts. Text A contains many naturally occurring pauses and overlaps, as indicated by “.” and the brackets. These would be expected as Text A is largely spontaneous speech however, the customer is likely to have prepared some responses to possible anticipated questions, the pharmacist is likely to use the same opening greeting with all his customers, and the medical lexis is also likely to be frequently used by the pharmacist. The pauses may indicate the pharmacist thinking carefully about the best advice to give, and the customer considering the best way to describe their symptoms.
Structurally, Text B also includes a conventional question/answer format, but includes many non-sequiturs within this, ‘What do you mean, miss? / Oh, I’m sorry, I have a cold’. This use and swift undermining of generic convention contributes towards the text’s mocking purpose. The humorous stage directions which allow a shopkeeper to ‘hide’ from a customer again flout social expectations, as do the unlikely verbs ‘shouts’, ‘throws’ and ‘bangs’, which are carried out by the increasingly annoyed customer. The concept of a customer screaming and throwing a parrot in the air in such a situation is so comical, even his name ‘Mr Praline’, is intended to be ridiculous, that it is clear that such stage directions are intended to emphasise the absurdist approach to unwritten social rules.
The utterance lengths are also different in the two texts. Text A is dominated by the pharmacist, who speaks the majority of the time in order to establish the symptoms and to give pertinent advice. The customer speaks briefly to give such information and to give the monitoring utterance ‘yeah’ several times. However, in Text B, the script is relatively balanced, ‘Praline’, the customer, speaks more than the shopkeeper. This reversal of conventional utterance lengths indicates again the fact that the usual rules do not apply in this text.
In conclusion, both texts employ the rules of a conventional question/answer format, however due to the intended humour of text B the rules are less applied when compare to text A. Text B establishes the use of everyday conversations while using mockery to reach its purpose, while in text A the pharmacist uses the appropriate lexis and manners to deal with the patient effectively, clearly reaching the intended purpose.…...

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