Bless your heart. You’re a saint amongst sinners, a dessert amongst dinners, a steak on a friday Lenten vegan lentil hellhole and a breath of fresh air in a stale locker room of morning-after beer farts. You have elected to do the impossible, step up and offer yourself as sacrifice to Dionysus.
You have agreed to see a friend’s show.
Already, you’ve outed yourself. You’re not clever enough to invent rapidly convincing weekend-evening plans to distract your theatrical friends. Like a chorus of corpses reanimated by nefarious radiation, they’ve closed in on your hiding place and pounced, fervently masticating on the warm, stringy tendons of your no-longer-free time.
[NOTE: I apologize for any Walking Dead references I may make for the rest of this piece, because I’m very impressionable and watched the entire series in the last three days.]
All is not lost, true believer! You may, in fact, suffer an experience that might cause you to have an honest reaction. Admittedly, this reaction will most likely be revulsion, despair or fatigue of the soul. Despite all this, you may yet encounter an inspiring moment.
When struggling through the least-crafted, no-budget dreck you’ve been dragged into by someone you casually slept with, feel free to play this game: What Outstanding Thing Can I Comment On? You may please yourself simply with your own ingenuity in devising things to harmlessly compliment.
For those in a less happy predicament, allow me to offer you some guidance. First off, you’re going to want to rely on Prefabricated Compliments. This is an advanced Jedi negotiation tactic that states irrefutable facts in a strictly complimentary way. For example:
- That was an effectively dark black that you painted the stage with!
- When those lights turned on, they stayed on until they were turned off!
- I certainly believed that all of the actors were capable of walking across the stage at times!
- Entering the theatre proved surprisingly effective and effortless!
- Wow! That was a show!
If that doesn’t fully satisfy the awkward postshow conversation, you can rely on the next level of preparation, the Impossibly Positive Question. You must not ask questions that can have anything but a positive answer. Examples of What Not To Do:
- Fantastic! Will you be extending?
- How are the houses so far?
- What have your reviews been like?
- Where will you be touring?
- You pay your people super well, right?
Good Questions to Ask generally fall along the same lines as good first date questions:
- Have you worked with (select an actor, designer, etc) before?
- Do you work here often?
- Did you have trouble finding the place?
- Who’s your hairstylist? I’m very impressed.
- Try the fish. It’s lovely; I had it once with some friends at a birthday thing.
Should the worst occur and you get caught badmouthing the piece, perhaps around the creative team or fragile actor types, you can rely on these quick solutions:
- Immediately begin talking about someone’s hair.
- Set fire to something. Most small theatres are laughably non-compliant with emergency codes and should readily combust, providing an effective distraction. Many theatres, however, do not have a ready means of escape (despite legally mandated preshow announcements) so this is not a first choice.
- Ask if anyone would like a drink. Take advantage of the ready yes to pardon yourself and escape.
- Ask if anyone would like to smoke some weed. Take advantage of the ready yes to pardon yourself and escape.
- “But at least it’s not Andrew Lloyd Webber!” – this is especially effective if it is, in fact, Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Congratulations! With this handy guide, you’ll suffer as little as possible from your terrible decision to befriend/take pity on/sleep with that incredibly attractive theatre person. In the future, never admit aloud that your plan for the evening is eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and watching all of The Walking Dead. Also: don’t watch all of The Walking Dead in one sitting.