Lost Journal: Finding My Funny Valentine

Journal entry: March 9, 1996 (age 26)

Pulling into the parking lot of The Little Café in Arlington, Virginia, I thought to myself, “Tonight feels special, in a foreshadowing kind of way.”  I walked into the crowded restaurant, and up the stairs to a nondescript room.  I can be found here most Saturday nights, performing improvisational comedy with a troupe called “Mprov.”  Our tagline is “It’s All Fun and Games until Someone Loses an I!”  In response to the groans this inevitably produces, I always point out that the name and tagline were chosen long before I joined the troupe.  My suggestion that we change to “The David Hasselhoff Repertory Company:  Preserving the Works of an American Master” had been met with cool derision.

I’ve been doing improv for years now, and I’ve learned that there are relatively few women who are interested in performing this style of comedy.  As is the case in the stand-up world, there just are a lot more guys than girls who want to stand in front of people and imitate Nikita Khrushchev at a roller derby.  The founder and leader of Mprov, Becky Anderson, is an exception.  But at any given performance, her ad-libbed songs and literary references are frequently drowned out by the feigned flatulence of four XY fools.

At tonight’s show, we didn’t even have Becky.  Without her moderating influence, the show quickly and irretrievably went blue.  Indigo blue.  My friend, Mike Karabinos, excels at this, and he was on a roll tonight.  I usually try to stake out the high ground, but I, too, couldn’t resist joining the testosterone fest.  A loud table of fraternity brothers egged me on as I strutted and bragged in the persona of a Bronx gynecologist named “G-man Bobby.”

After the show, I saw some excitement going on near the exit.  Two very cute female patrons were encircled by my “fellow” performers.  As I approached, Mike was chatting up one of the girls, whose name was Diana.

As if to say, “Move along, nothing to see here,” Mike handed me a form that the other young lady had filled out on the back of her program.  Whatever she had written had stirred up this little scene, and she was struggling to keep up with the rapid-fire questions from three more male comics.  Before entering the fray, I looked over her written responses.  Her name was Amanda.  She had quite a bit of improv experience.  In fact, like me, she had founded and directed an improv troupe while in college.

“Pretty.”  “Smart.”  “Funny.”  The three words battled each other for supremacy in my brain.  Elsewhere in my body, two of the words lost that battle, decisively.  I hastily jostled aside the other gawking admirers, and stood behind the lovely Amanda.  I placed my hands on her shoulders, spun her around, and said “Mprov needs women!”  I fervently hoped that my voice and expression didn’t give away the powerful subtext of my statement, which was “I need a woman!”

Journal Addendum:  January 1, 1999

I married Amanda.

Journal Addendum:  May 8, 2004

Mike married Diana.

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