The Supporting Role

I’m the comic-relief,
lower class, a bit plump,
and a little past my prime,
but I charm you with a line,

don’t I, know the ins and outs—a wink–
the doings of the great and small?
I gather gossip like pocket lint, and
hold it there, to share with all

(but only when I need it). I never play a noble, only
a servant at my betters’ beck and call–
forgotten in-between the scenes, and I never get the handsome guy–
but I let it fly—because,

well, you know why?

When after all those touching songs and breathless sighs
the sweet, young lovers die (a tragedy, I’m sure)–

here I am hearty and alive

and furthermore– I thrive.

For Ingrid’s prompt on dVerse to write in the voice of a fictional character.

I heard this song (it is funny) performed by Broadway star Rebecca Luker, who died of ALS in December. It made me think of the opposite, what the comic-relief characters might say—for example the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet or Madame Thénardier in the musical Les Misérables.

71 thoughts on “The Supporting Role

  1. What a wonderful, thriving character you have conjured up here, Merril! I think echoes of the Wife of Bath as well. I especially love these lines:

    I gather gossip like pocket lint, and
    hold it there, to share with all

    And of course, the closing couplet 🙂

  2. Shakespeare’s Nurse is one of my favourite characters, she has a tragic background, losing her own child and bringing up Juliet only to lose her too. What would a main character be without the supporting role? You captured some of her essence in this poem, Merril, and I think a Dickens character is in there too. I love the lines:
    ‘I gather gossip like pocket lint, and
    hold it there, to share with all’.

  3. You have created a fantastic character in this poem. I also love the line about gathering gossip like pocket lint. It made me laugh. I feel like I know this lady.

  4. This is exquisitely drawn, Merril! 💝 I especially love; “I never play a noble, only a servant at my betters’ beck and call–forgotten in-between the scenes,”.. but oh, they are never truly forgotten now, are they? 😉

  5. I love the light hearted and comedic voice. I also like this part:

    I gather gossip like pocket lint, and
    hold it there, to share with all

  6. The background characters are often the most interesting to me, and this proves it. A supporting role is exactly what it sounds like to the main role, but we never stop and think about their lives either; the past before the main events of the story or what happened leading up or in-between for the supporting characters. It’s interesting and I have not thought about it that way until reading your wonderful poem. Makes me acknowledge more of the inner story of those characters and how it could potentially impact the main ones. Brilliant work here. It’s beautiful and humorous as well. I enjoyed reading it very much!

  7. I gather gossip like pocket lint, and
    hold it there, to share with all

    This sounds like politics saving up the gossip to use for future gain!
    The wise one laughs last!

  8. Many can relate to the sentiment in this, including me. I won awards in academia but not so much as a writer, often playing “the supporting role.” I can relate to the lines “and a little past my prime,
    but I charm you with a line,”
    I write because I love it and savor the connection with other writers.

    Exquisite!

  9. Oh, Bravo! For all the glory given to the leads, it truly is the supporting characters that make a story worth the telling. What would “Twelfth Night” be without Fool? Bond without M and Q? Frodo and Samwise without Merry and Pippin? Any Broadway musical without its chorus line? They are called support for a reason and your witty charmer knows her self-worth indeed!

  10. Merril- I love this. Not sure if you’ve seen Bridgerton, but Lady Whistledown immediately came to mind. She writes a gossip column, and no one knows for sure who she is, although it was revealed in the season finale.

  11. Great concept, and I love these lines “I gather gossip like pocket lint, and
    hold it there, to share with all.” The lovely contrast of hold it there/share with all.

  12. I love your gossip-collecting character – she sounds like great fun. Thank you also for sharing the video of Rebecca Luker – a wonderful talent.

  13. Wonderful poem!!!
    Stoppard’s ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead’ is one of my favourite plays, a poignant comic take from the point of view of secondary characters in Hamlet. Your poem reminded me of it.

    • Thank you so much.
      Yes, it’s a clever play. A few years ago, a Philadelphia theater did Hamlet and then Rosencrantz and Guidlenstern with some of the same actors.

  14. Luker’s song was truly funny … thank you for sharing it, Merril. How tragic she died so young.
    Like all your readers, I love the line about gathering gossip like pocket lint. How perfectly rendered, and though your character is fictional, she comes to life with your words 🙂

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