Journal entry: May 18, 1996 (age 27)
As I pulled into the parking lot of The Little Café in Arlington, Va., tonight, I thought to myself, “There’s that foreshadowing feeling again. It’s more like fiveshadowing.” I was there to perform with Mprov, the improv comedy troupe I’ve been in for a year or so. I’ve missed the last bunch of performances, because I’ve been focused on teaching improv classes for beginners. But tonight, I made a point of being in the show, because my parents are in town and wanted to see it. My brother, Dan, his wife, Mary Jean, and our cousin, Art Grace, were also in the audience, so the pressure was on.
Improv should always be made up on the spot, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work in characters you’ve already developed. With so many of my peeps in attendance, I rolled out some of my old favorites. Deputy Barney Fife made an appearance, as did Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Dough Boy. To complete the weird impression trifecta, I also threw in the lockjawed President of the Hair Club for Men, Cy Sperling. But afterwards, no-one in my family wanted to talk about me. They wanted to talk about our newest cast member, Amanda. She had come to see our show in March, and then successfully auditioned for the troupe. Despite having hit it off with her right away, I haven’t had a chance to hang out with her much, and tonight was our first time on stage together.
While I relied on tried-and-true shtick I had done many times before, Amanda was creating really fresh, funny stuff. Her best moment came while performing a scene called “The Dating Game.” Before the scene began, the audience was asked to suggest occupations for the three contestants in the game show. Amanda was given the occupation of stewardess. During the scene, she was asked to describe her ideal date. She immediately stood up, and in a very loud voice, described an intimate restaurant. She made huge gestures to indicate all the exits from the restaurant, and then demonstrated the Heimlich maneuver on herself.
After curtain call, my father pulled me aside and said, “Who’s that girl who played the stewardess?” I said, “Oh, that’s the new girl, Amanda.” Dad leaned in closer and said, “She’s really cute.” I raised my eyebrows and said, “Yeah, you know – she is!” Now Dad had his hand on my arm, and was looking me right in the eye. In his deepest dad baritone, he said “Get on that.” It took me a few minutes to get over the fact that my father had just instructed me to “get on” someone. He hadn’t meant it in a literal sense, but still…
Then, when I got home, Dan called. He said that Mary Jean had brought up Amanda on their drive home. She had said, “That’s the kind of girl Tim should be dating. She’s perfect.” I told Dan that Dad had said the same thing, if in more prosaic terms. “Hmm,” said Dan.
“Yeah,” I said, “hmm.”
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