I admit that I’m writing this post from a sad place. This past week has been hard on me, to say the least.
Thank God for Elders Price and Cunningham. Because I need them right now.
The scene has changed to the Salt Lake City airport. Elder Price and Elder Cunningham are all packed and ready to go, and their families have come with them to wish them well on their way to Uganda.
Which brings me to one of what I feel is the single greatest stage direction of all time:
Elder Price and Elder Cunningham have their suitcases and are each surrounded by their families. Note that Price’s mom is most likely going to have to be played by a male, so we can put a guy in drag and just have him sobbing into a hanky.
Elder Price is still uncertain about this whole Africa thing–“Maybe we should see if there’s any way I can get assigned somewhere a little closer to home. Like…Florida…or…”
I got news for ya, Elder. I’m from Florida, and while Orlando is awesome, there are also alligators there.
Anyway, the Price family is clearly close-knit, and they offer lots of encouragement.
Then we turn to the Cunningham family.
CUNNINGHAM’S DAD: Alright, son, remember, just do whatever Elder Price tells you. He is a great Mormon. The kind of kid any parent would be proud of.
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: Right! And I’m a FOLLOWER!
CUNNINGHAM’S DAD: That’s right. Do your best. Maybe your new companion can help make you not so weird.
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, we’re gonna have the most amazing time together. It’s like…It’s like I’m finally gonna have a best friend…
Poor Elder Cunningham. He totally had me feeling really bad for him at this point.
And then there was this:
CUNNINGHAM’S DAD: And REMEMBER, Arnold, what we talked about in regards to your…little PROBLEM.
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: Don’t worry, dad, my little problem is IN CHECK! Not gonna be an issue!
Elder Price overhears this, and he, like me, is slightly perturbed. So he inquires as to what this problem is, and as it turns out–
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: I LIE A LOT!
Elder Price’s dad reassures his son all will be well, and then
The families make it offstage. The lights go dark and a spot comes up on a LION KING-like character who enters stage.
The Lion King character does a little dance. It turns out to be a woman named Mrs. Brown who performed it. It is amazing. The families leave, after Elder Price’s dad calls out “Get out there and baptize those Africans, boy!” I cringed. And then, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham are left alone, and Elder Cunningham gleefully points out
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: From this point on, according to missionary rule number seventy-two we are never to go anywhere without each other, except the bathroom?
Ugh. That just sounds awful. What about introvert time? When is the introvert hangover?
I dunno about you all, but I need my introvert hangovers.
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: It’s so awesome because my friends always end up leaving me, but YOU CAN’T! HA HA HAAA!
Price looks sad.
There’s so much to unpack here. First off, Elder Cunningham is pulling at my heartstrings here. I know we’re supposed to be feeling bad for Elder Price, but DAMMIT. Who here hasn’t felt the exact same way? I know I’ve felt alone before. Sometimes I’ve felt like all my friends have left me.
Wow, Elder Cunningham. Maybe I’m you.
EXCEPT I’M NOT, because…
My favorite song from the show starts.
I have to say, Andrew Rannells NAILS this song. Josh Gad is perfect too, but Rannells definitely hits that winsome and charming yet incredibly smug space so well.
ELDER PRICE: I’ve always had the hope
That on the day I go to heaven,
Heavenly Father will shake my hand and say
“You’ve done an awesome job, Kevin!”
Price’s name is Kevin?
Cunningham is already latching onto his buddy, as he echoes with a “My best friend” that is plaintive and possessive. But Price ignores him.
ELDER PRICE: Now it’s our time to go out
And set the world’s people free
We can do it together,
You and me
But mostly me!
And the first time I heard that, I burst into laughter.
And see, I get it. I get it, Kevin. May I call you Kevin? I’mma call you Kevin.
I was your quintessential overachiever. At Kevin’s age, I was going to convert everyone too. I mean, I wasn’t Mormon, but, you know, I was raised Catholic and so I was gonna spread that around. And I was gonna do all of it.
The song goes on, and it’s so good, that we might wind up going line by line here:
ELDER PRICE: You and me–but mostly me
Are gonna change the world forever
Cuz I can do most anything
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: And I can stand next to you and watch.
There’s so much to unpack here. Kevin can do most anything, or so he claims, meaning he is probably about to face a rude awakening when they hit Africa. I seriously hope he isn’t an anti-vaxxer and got his malaria shot. And then there’s Elder Cunningham, who not only establishes his place as a follower, but he couldn’t even be bothered to rhyme his statement with the rest of Kevin’s song.
Even though the look on his face says otherwise, Kevin moves on:
ELDER PRICE: Every hero needs a sidekick
Every captain needs a mate
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: Aye aye!
ELDER PRICE: Every dinner needs a side dish
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: On a slightly smaller plate!
I’m not going to lie, these particular song lyrics have truly inspired me in my bouts of sibling rivalry. I have a brother and a sister, and my sister is a genuine badass, but since I’m, you know, 6 and a half years older than her, I frequently attempt to put her in her place. So, here’s a shout out to my beautiful, amazing, talented sister, who will always be my side dish. On a slightly smaller plate.
But with this discourse, our Elders have now reached common ground:
BOTH: And now we’re seeing eye to eye
It’s so great we can agree
That Heavenly Father has chosen
You and me
ELDER PRICE: Just mostly me!
Were you guys waiting for Kevin to grab a moment in the spotlight where he shoves Elder Cunningham into the background and completely ignores him while he sings? I know I was!
ELDER PRICE: Something incredible…I’ll do something incredible
I want to be the Mormon who
Changed all of Mankind
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: (in the background) My best friend
ELDER PRICE: It’s something I’ve foreseen
Now that I’m nineteen
I’ll do something incredible
That blows God’s freaking mind!
So. Much. Hubris.
But honestly, I’m going to take a side moment to note that Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Robert Lopez (the genius behind Avenue Q, who collaborated with them on this) are genius songwriters. This song is stylistic perfection, and every line Kevin says punctuates his self-satisfaction and confidence that he’s going to be the next Joseph Smith. Or at the very least Brigham Young.
BOTH: And as long as we stick together
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: And I stay out of your way
ELDER PRICE: Out of my way
BOTH: We will change the world forever
ELDER CUNNINGHAM: And make tomorrow a latter day!
For some reason, that’s not actually something that Mormons say. It might be because it doesn’t mean what Elder Cunningham seems to think it means, but it’s too bad, because that’s quite catchy.
BOTH: So stop singing about it, and do it!
How ready and psyched are we?
Life is about to change for you and
Life is about to change for me and
Life is about to change for you and
But lest we forget who this is actually about, Kevin really drives the point home here.
ELDER PRICE: But me mostly.
And there’s no limit to what we can do
Me and you.
But mostly meeeeeee!
Well, that’s it for today! I’ll see you next time in Uganda, for Hasa Diga Ebowii!