It wasn’t easy but my daughter got the organizers of the Pigapalooza Comedy Improv Festival to surprise me by announcing my birthday. My wife and I spent the day on Friday driving to Frederick, Maryland. We got there just in time to meet up with our son and daughter, who joined us for the show at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre. My daughter’s emails had gone unanswered, so she rushed ahead to the box office and spoke to a member of the tech crew moments before I caught up to her.
When my wife and I returned to the theatre for Saturday’s shows, they wished me a happy birthday again! I guess that emcee Anne Raugh of The Comedy Pigs finally got one of the emails, tweets or Facebook messages my daughter sent during the previous week.
The first group to perform Saturday was Ponch!, a team from Frederick. They finished their long-form scene with a little bit of time to spare. Clayton Myers asked if any audience members wanted to join them. A few of the members of other festival groups jumped up. Clayton then asked if Frank Murphy was in the audience and if I would come forward. As I did, I found myself blocked by the front row of seats, which I then hopped over. The guys in the group said things like “no way he’s 51” and “he’s pretty spry for his age.”
Clayton asked me to start them off with a monologue. I got a word from the audience, which turned out to be platypus. I instinctively used a New York accent to cover my nerves as I riffed about a platypus with webbed feet, big moist eyes and the ability to lay eggs. I got tagged out by Courtney McLaughlin of The Comedy Pigs, who expanded on the word moist. She was tagged out by some guys pretending to sell platypus eggs.
During one odd scene that followed, Clayton stepped forward and addressed the audience like Rod Serling. He said, “You’ve entered the ‘What the Heck’ zone,” except that he didn’t say “heck.” He didn’t say “fun” either but I’ll use that word instead of the actual expletive he used. One of the other audience volunteers proclaimed that she was in the safe zone, not the “fun” zone. Ponch! member Scott McVicker (a.k.a. Double-T) was on the far side of the room. He announced that he was in the Super “Fun” Zone. My wife remembers me saying something like “that’s where I want to be.” All I recall is running across the floor toward Scott and leaping into his arms. Just as I wrapped my legs around his waist, the lights went out… and scene.