“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” doing her thing and looking mighty pulled together. I did not look like this, as you can see in the photographic evidence below.
My life has been filled with Mrs. Maisel moments recently.
And by that I mean, having things upended to smack you outside your comfort zone but you manage to deal with it and maybe even thrive a little — but my situation didn’t have the imploding marriage part, of course. I didn’t do anything nearly as dramatic as commandeering a standup stage, after all she is a fictional TV character. I am a real mom with incredibly real piles of laundry. But I was asked to do something I’d never done before and felt like I had to channel Mrs. Maisel’s moxie to do… improv.
It wasn’t like I had to slink out on stage and start, um, improvising. My job was easier — I was a contestant in a Tucson Improv Movement show modeled after a game show and cleverly called The Game Show Show. The theme was authors and so my fellow contestant was Katie Mullaly, who is way more badass than I and written books about ghost hunting and the paranormal and a hilarious eBook called “Thrift Stores: Cool Sh!t I Thrifted.” We both were in juvie, er, high school together. Though I am a year older and therefore theoretically wiser, she actually had the edge because she’d already done this game show thing TWICE before. Things did not look good for me.
Also not good for me: The night before I slept not a wink. I was so adrenalined up from the week before and its affiliated, highly emotional festivities relating to No. 3’s middle-school graduation and the blowout party the very night before that I was wide awake alllll night looooooooooong. I was literally in the bathroom before darting onto the stage wondering if I needed to slap my face to be more alert. I ended up doing some squats, which my CrossFit peeps would have loved.
Adding to my deficits were that the first part of the game show involved movies. Wellllll, I have fallen asleep in every movie I’ve been to after “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” Which totally gives away how old I am and why I am so very tired.
I brought my own buzzer because, well, I had one. It has a poop emoji on it and makes a farting sound and I had it tucked in my purse and as I watched the first act, I squeezed my purse a little too hard and the buzzer tooted — but of course no one else knew yet that I had smuggled in my own farting buzzer device.
So anyway, the first round mashed up movies and we contestants were expected to guess the new title. Example: Acting out scenes from “Dirty Harry” and then “When Harry Met Sally” to come up with “When Dirty Harry Met Sally.” Making it even harder: These were movies about authors, which I didn’t know existed. Isn’t that why Hollywood makes movies? People don’t read! People don’t care about lame ol’ authors!
The other games involved an audience suggestion as well as the three improvers acting out clues using only gibberish and mime. It was so haaardddd.
The troop joked about a totally random scoring system, which must have been true because in the so-called lightning round, Katie was popping off answers way quicker than I did, yet somehow I was declared the winner. Let me repeat: I won! I really, really like winning (even if it’s for something trivial*) and tend to get a little overly excited in any competitive situation, as the poor buzzer I smacked around that night will attest.
I came, I didn’t see (because those stage lights are blinding), I didn’t really conquer but I contested without totally embarrassing myself. I think. And, I lived to tell. What is that oh-so-true saying I saw on Instagram the other day? That which doesn’t kill you makes your drink stronger? Totally.
Here, host Kurt Lueders shows his acting chops by looking thrilled for me when I won a hand-drawn sketch that stank of Sharpie, an almost empty plastic tequila bottle and an improv member’s grad night badge from two days earlier. Author and fellow contestant Katie Mullaly looks appropriately gracious even though I know she wants to punch me because she’s done this show twice before and lost. Photo by Cathalena Burch.
One of my not-so-fabulous prizes. It says right on the TIM website the prizes are not fabulous but I still held out hope that the TIM folks were lying. Alas, they were not. Photo by Patty Machelor.
*A group of coworkers used to go in on lottery tickets every week and one time, we actually won. It was $100 — but divided up among, like, 20 of us. So, not a big sum of money. Still, when the cash register chimed “You’re in the Money” my friend and I were jumping around like loons. People thought we’d won a million bucks.