The Surrender Committee

Nobody noticed the signal from space at first. It was coming across on the AM radio band for nearly a year, and nobody said anything because the AM radio audience was too small and too used to men yelling incomprehensibly about subjects they did not understand. But scientists finally discovered that the voice that announced it was coming to Earth to enslave humanity, belonged to the Grand Mott, the commander of enormous space fleet from the planet Vitoopria.

Of course, when the majority of the population heard about this message, they did what people do when an alien species announces its malevolent intentions, they panicked. There was looting, a huge uptick in liquor sales, and more than one fundamentalist father praying for guidance on whether he should mercy kill his oldest child first or start with the youngest child to save them from the aliens. Though, it’s true that the looting might have had more to do with societal injustices, the liquor sales might have been due to Daylight Savings Time, and the fundamentalists, well, anything could have set them off. But, even then, there was still panic.

In the midst of this hysteria and fear, scientists made a very important discovery. They had pinpointed the location of the fleet, and in doing so, realized that the Vitooprians weren’t going to arrive for another 300 years. The scientists announced that not only was there time for people to live happy and die peacefully, if that was their wish, but there was time for the next seven generations of their family to do the same. Plus that was 300 years for the worlds’ militaries to think up horrifying ways to kill aliens.

It was also at this point that it was decided that there must be a response to the Vitooprian message, which would require some delicacy, as it had suggested that the Vitooprians might not know that they had 300 more years of travel.

People who tuned in for this first communication between the people of Earth and the whatever Vitooprians were, turned on their televisions and saw a split screen, with one side featuring a small green room. Sitting at a conference table were two women, one older and very pleasant looking, one younger and slack-jawed, and between them, a middle-aged man with uneven patches of frizzy hair and sweat stains the size of basketballs under the arms of his short-sleeve shirt.

A moment passed with the three blinking blankly toward the camera, and then the Grand Mott fuzzed into clarity on the other side of the screen. An enormous Gila monster-looking creature with a tall starchy vampire collar, he narrowed his terrifying yellow eyes and hissed at the screen, “Who dares...”

“We surrender!” blurted the man with the weird hair and the stains, and then, after the older woman whispered into his ear, he added “Unconditionally!”

The Grand Mott snarled at being interrupted, “Who dares address the Grand Mot, lizard of lizards, copulator of planets, drinker of blood and other fluids?”

“I apologize from the bottom of our collective hearts, Grand Mot,” the harried-looking man on the other side of the screen said, bowing his head to the table, “My name is Roy Flanelle, these are my associates, Mary Richards and Veronica Saturday. We’re the Earth Surrender Committee.”

“I will snap your bones in my teeth, Fishburg. Only death awaits you,” hissed the alien lizard.

“Write that down, Veronica” the man told the younger woman.

“Only death,” the woman said slowly, as she transferred the words from her head to paper using a pencil.

“What are you doing?” the Grand Mott asked angrily.

“Well, as your liaisons for Earth surrender, it’s our job to streamline the enslavement of humanity, to make it more of a satisfying experience for you.” the man now known as Fishburg explained. “As our civilization is based on customer service, it would be our greatest achievement to make someone, in this case, you, Grand Mott, happy.”

That just made the big lizard with the giant collar chuckle.

The Surrender Committee was a group of toadying lackeys and cowards seemingly delighted to handle the administrative work for an evil extraterrestrial who had vowed to send them to the nuclear mines of MagMok 9. As embarrassing as it was to the people of Earth, it warmed the Grand Mott’s persecuting little heart, because he simply loved the power of ordering people around.

What the Grand Mott did not know was that the Surrender Committee didn’t have any power because The Surrender Committee was an hour-long comedy on Showtime, starring John C. Reilly as Roy Flanelle-slash-Fishburg. His associate, Mary Richards, was portrayed by the always-delightful Mary Tyler Moore, and the role of Veronica Saturday was handled, for the most part, incompetently by Rene Zellweger.

However, everybody agreed that the true star of the program was the Grand Mott, or as he was sometimes called, the Mott. A preening, self-centered lunatic who preyed on the weak and thirsted for the subjugation of the human race, he was the perfect villain. Sure, he was an actual psychopath, but he was a psychopath who was more than 175,000 miles from Earth. And that’s what made the show funny.

Thanks to the Grand Mott’s habit of talking about his own genius, it was discovered that the thanks for the coming invasion belonged to Voyager I. For those unfamiliar with Voyager I, it was a probe launched into the deepest reaches of space as a welcoming beacon. As it was launched in 1977, it had a kind of feel-good, “Free to Be You and Me” vibe, and a golden record attached that included pictures of violins, paper-making demonstrations, and senior citizens with balloons tied around their wrists. As the probe passed the planet Vitoopria, the images convinced the Grand Mott that Earth was a planet of weaklings, pushovers, and feeble misfits. Interestingly, the one photo that could have been a deterrent, that of a man measuring a dead alligator, the Mott interpreted as a spa treatment. In the his defense, if you based your knowledge of Earth on the images sent with Voyager I, you would never know of the existence of tanks, aircraft carriers, and AK-47s, or, for that matter, unsmiling people.

On a side note, thanks to this information, a decision was made to launch another Voyager immediately, but this time images of children smelling flowers were replaced by a throat-crushing montage featuring Darth Vader, footage of Mechagodzilla blasting Tokyo, and that scene from Miller’s Crossing where a guy is hit in the face with a shovel and his eyes explode.

Back on The Surrender Committee, the show got even better when the Grand Mott had Saturday-Zellweger beheaded because he just wasn’t “feeling it.” Her last words “Wait, what?” were comedy gold, though the delivery made middle school drama teachers cringe. Interestingly, the Grand Mott was just as trusting as he was tyrannical and he took it for granted that Saturday-Zellweger, much like the other 10,000 people he’d ordered killed, had been executed immediately after she’d been dragged from the room still saying, “No, really, wait, what?”

John C. Reilly’s character, Fishburg, had a special talent for provoking new levels of sputtering rage in the Mott. One favorite subject involved a monument that the lizard of lizards had ordered to be built prior to his arrival. The Mott had demanded that it involve 500-foot-tall statue of him standing on a mountain of human skulls. The statue, he explained, had nothing to do with poor treatment of slaves, it was simply a piece of public art that involved one million human skulls.

This culminated in an episode that started with Fishburg explaining that the statue had been finished. As a smile wrinkled around the corner of the Mott’s mouth though, Fishburg stuttered that there had been some unforeseen difficulties. At this, the Grand Mott’s smile unrolled just a smidge. What began with light bulbs of the wrong wattage and poor signage went downhill from there. And each time the Grand Mott would open his mouth to comment, Fishburg would awkwardly interrupt with another misfortune thing that had happened to the statue. The Grand Mott, a true master of the slow burn, looked more and more enraged, as his fangs started to dribble with poison.

It was toward the end of the show that Fishburg mentioned that the Mott’s head had been knocked off by some careless wrecking ball work and had then rolled into a poorly placed dynamite shed, which Fishburg helped explain with explosion hands. As his heat glands began to turn red and throb, the commander of the Vitooprian began to growl, but before he could say a word, Fishburg interrupted, “Oops, that’s all the time we have for this week” and the Surrender Committee side of the screen went blank. On the other half, the look on the Grand Mott’s face was priceless.

It was the comic genius of The Surrender Committee that got an alien sworn to the enslavement of humanity to spend all his time selecting high school bands for his victory parade and discussing the size of his “Mission Accomplished” banner. Combine that with the Grand Mott ordering an entire high school band from Michigan beheaded for poor choreography and it was People’s Choice Award gold.

There are those that The Surrender Committee and the popularity of the show are an indictment of humanity. That maybe people at heart, are mean-spirited jackasses with too much time on their hands. That by telling the Vitooprians that they need to turn back before they die in the cold reaches of space, it would actually be saving humanity from its own worst impulses. And while their arguments may have had some merit, the question you have to ask these people is, where’s the fun in that?


bikewrench said…
Though the alien may have been based on me...

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