Lie To Me: Pathology Of Improv

Sticks Author: Steve

In 1993 I didn’t understand how jobs worked, but I was certain that companies across America were waiting, bald heads plugged into Cerebro, searching for my special DNA tone among the masses.  They needed writers, I was assuming.  Who better than me –  a person published several times in the UConn student newspaper?  Hadn’t they seen my tendency for overwroughtity and my aptitude for word makeruppery?  I prolifically wrote about the swim team AND the cross country team.  I had once written a fluff piece on the football team – FOOTBALL – as they took on New Hampshire in which I publicly admired their license plate motto.  Live Free Or Die.  Live.  Free.  Or.  Die!

Oddly, I was not plucked proactively from the bulging hordes of UConn grads as I made my way to live with my girlfriend (now wife) in Buffalo.  I assumed that when I arrived in Cheektowaga, word would have preceded me and perhaps there wouldn’t be a parade per se, but there would surely be a ringing phone in our apartment with employers treating me like a blue chip basketball prospect.  Come work for us son.  We’ve got great facilities and plenty of coeds.  I was young once too son!  I see a little bit of me in you.  The writing comes easy, right son?  Yeah.  Well, now’s your chance to show it off on the largest stage in town.

Talent I guess isn’t a rare thing and it’s graded on a curve.  Sure I can string some words together, but writing is about writing.  Like all the time writing, never stopping, writing, typing, erasing, editing, writing, writing, writing.  Writers are everywhere and most of them are better than I was.  Am.  Are.  Whatever, screw grammar anyway.  Anyways.

Writers like me it turns out are the trees that fall in the forests with nobody else around.  You write, you get it published or you simply aren’t heard.  So instead of writing for a magazine or a tv show or a greeting card company, I got temp jobs stocking paint in the middle of the night or typing (that’s a lot like writing!) for a lawyer’s office.  I taught acting.  I tried to audition for an improv show.  I slept.  I managed a video store.  I got a job making pancake batter during which I ate a lot of pancakes.  I got a job making pizzas during which I ate a lot of pizza.

And finally, I lied.

In the end, it wasn’t my writing ability or my quasi understanding of when to use semicolons that got me what I needed; it was my ability to make stuff up.

While temping at a mortgage company, I learned of a real opening in the customer service department.  I learned that the hiring manager liked lacrosse.  It took a book, some discussion with actual athletic people, and two weeks to prepare, but by the time I interviewed I had an entire character built around a love of lacrosse and I sold it.  Got the job.

I owe almost everything I have now to that lie.

I’m still not the brightest bulb because putting this down on the internet is probably a great way for people like my past/current employers to learn that I never played right wing or what the hell ever on a club lacrosse team at UConn, but I’m pretty sure I could talk my way out of it if confronted.

I’m not saying that lying is improv, but pretending you are somebody else is a pretty big part of it.  Who doesn’t like trying on the ill-fitting clothes of some character?  I can always be Steve the insurance marketing guy.  That’s every damn day!  Why not be Luke the buff lacrosse psycho?  Or James the shy beekeeper?  Or Jacob the wayward rumspringa?

I’ve matured now and I totally understand that with great power comes great responsibility.  I don’t think I’d ever use improv powers to lie  to secure a job.

But Charles the awkwardly suave electrical engineer?  That dude would lie in a heartbeat.

 

 

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