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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