My Italian grandmother cooked me some pasta with marinara sauce, baked eggplant, salad and apple kuchen. I had just come from lunch with my mother, so I wasn’t very hungry. So I sat there at the kitchen table and planned out, in my mind, how I would go about accomplishing the task of eating all that food. I figured I could eat all of the pasta, about half of the salad and one piece of kuchen. As I ate, we talked about how my cousins were doing (professional atheletes and models, they all seem to be), how she’s been invited to a half-dozen picnics, for which she feels obligated to cook large amounts of food, etc.
After I ate the pasta, and to take a break before dessert, I demonstrated the idea of an improv show to her. I told her it was like Saturday Night Live, but we didn’t write it out beforehand. I showed this by springing up from my chair, pantomiming and explaining concepts like the back line, two people doing a scene, etc. I suddenly felt a huge desire to have someone, anyone, understand what I do all the time.
After a 5-minute, breathless presentation (wherein my example scene was an Irish grandmother and her four year-old daughter baking apple pie — I played all the characters, briefly), it honestly looked like she really got it.
She also showed me something she’d picked up on the street “and washed real good,” a piece of fabric with a little loop for hanging, like maybe from a rearview mirror. It said, “The road to a friend’s house is never long.” She repeated this phrase over and over, holding up the little white embroidered square and bobbing it up and down for emphasis. She wants us all to visit more often.
Before I left, she explained to Seymour, the nice Jewish man she lives with, that I did improv. And she explained how we act, but without a script, and we play different characters. Success!