Sunday, July 23, 2017

Take Door #2, Son

Sometimes you just need to take a break and catch up with friends.

That meant brunch at Helen's with the girlfriend I'd run into at several shows in the past two weeks, but hadn't sat down to dish with in eons. We'd both had too much life going on of late not to make time to debrief the other.

We timed it just right, sliding into one of the two window tables just as the early crowd was paying their checks. I'd forgotten about the charming flowered oil cloths that lend such kistch charm to the tables at the classic Richmond spot.

Because it had been far too long, we took turns eating and talking, so I got to hear about her life while diving into a well-constructed BLT with avocado on crusty sourdough toast while she listened intently to me while inhaling huevos rancheros.

In that typical Richmond-is-so-small way, when she began telling me about a guy who'd caught her eye but is looking at moving to the Big Easy, I knew who she was talking about before she even mentioned his name. When I shared details about my recent second trip to the beach, she already knew about the group house I'd gone to and with whom.

Small world.

We have no true secrets in Richmond, just the most delicate tendrils connecting us all whether we know it or not.

When we parted ways after giving each other love life advice, it was to do weekend girly-type things: go shopping for bras and flowerpots.

My evening's plans had been decided a few days ago when FotoBoy reached out to me.

I'm dateless Saturday I just found out and am wondering if you wanna do something with me?

Coincidentally, I was also dateless tonight, so I immediately suggested sharing some laughs at the Comedy Coalition, which got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from him. My idea was to meet here and walk the 6 blocks there even if it was still 97 degrees outside and he knew me well enough to agree.

En route, we passed a dozen or so people milling about and taking photos at the Maggie Walker statue and he marveled at the sheer amount of merchandise on the sidewalk in front of Circle Thrift. How do they get away with that?

Although we were greeted by a major blast of cold air inside the comedy theater, the air soon rose to a comfortable but not especially cold level once humans started filing in and soon we were joined by a third, a buddy of his, also dateless and looking for some Saturday night fun.

Turns out he'd found out 2 hours too late about "Stop Making Sense" playing the Byrd the other night and was mildly envious I'd been there, at least until he heard about the interview with Jonathan Demme and David Byrne that proceeded it and then he was hugely jealous.

I, in turn, was mildly envious he'd seen the film originally at the Biograph in 1984 when he was in 10th grade. I only became hugely jealous when he shared that he'd seen Demme and Werner Herzog interviewed in NYC and actually spoke to Herzog on the street before the event.

We put our petty jealousies aside when the show began.

Host Ryan reminded the crowd that what we were about to see would never be repeated and exhorted us to, "Breathe it in! Live in the moment!" before our evening of long-form improv began.

Ambassadors were up first and their verbal starting point was "old pants." That somehow took us to a closed Old Navy store ("I thought I had some idea of what capitalism would be like when it collapsed, but no!"), remorse about Circuit City closing and memories about the highs and lows of Orange Julius (there's a throwback).

The team was fairly young, so their comedy included references to pretentious young people, technology ("I'm swiping left and he\s still here!" about an intruder) and fluids.

Their climax involved kicking down a door, cocking a shotgun and yelling, "Biscuit!" but you had to be there to see how they got there.

Second team Da Vinci got started with a cue of "bike tires" and a couple of witches wanting to switch from brooms to bikes to save their magic.

Naturally, the witches weren't very nice. "Do you burn children?" they were asked. No, why, they wanted to know? "I have a nephew I don't like."

They made us laugh with comedy that referenced "Game of Thrones," accusations of infidelity, "Survivor" and boob sweat. There was also a cigarette-smoking bad father who needed to learn to hate less.

Big Bosses, the final team, was made up of the long-standing coalition members, the people who've been doing this since before they had a brick and mortar place to do it and were nomads.

These are the people who make it look so easy.

Their cue came from a guy in the front row after they asked the audience what our favorite soundtrack album was and the guy shouted out "Titanic." He was then mercilessly razzed about whether he knew anything else on the soundtrack besides "My Heart Will Go On" and he didn't seem to.

Naturally, their improv began on the bow of the Titanic, with passengers explaining how they got their tickets (murder, theft, death) and how they planned to find the American dream and segued into a bit about a Russian and American sub in the Arctic Ocean, each being manned by a guy who'd eaten too much chocolate and needed to poop.

One of the funniest bits concerned two passengers on a first date, one who was obsessed with his dead grandparents to the point of taking her to the cemetery to talk to the man who'd buried them.

After amusing herself playing Candy Crush while he chats up the gravedigger, she gets tired of waiting for him to finish questioning the man about them.

"Hey!  You can live in the past or come with me and at least get a hand job!" she calls out, bored and impatient.

I thought I had some idea how my Saturday night would end, but no. Hand jobs aside, I think we can all agree there's no point in living in the past.

And biscuits? Well, they'are always a good idea.

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