I wore Groucho Marx glasses to my Titanic callback and they still didn’t let me on
When some people think of tragedy, their mind immediately goes to the Hindenburg. When I think of tragedy, I think of a disaster eleven times greater than the Hindenburg. This is the all-too-true story of my Titanic audition.
(This is hard for me to write, due to the personal nature of the content. So, please: read on with caution.)
It all started two and a half years ago. I was a wily freshman. ‘Improvised comedy?’ I thought, ‘sign me up!’ Little did I know, I was on a crash-course to catastrophe.
I got a callback. Of course I got a callback! I know how to ‘yes and.’ I do bits. I do great bits. People love my bits. Or so I thought.
I knew I had to make myself stand out in the callback. I couldn’t just be another one of those improv people with fun pants and a faux-casual demeanor. I needed an in. And when I was at my lowest, about to lose all hope, it came to me. All I had to do to be accepted to the Northwestern Titanic Players was buy a pair of the novelty glasses—commonly referred to as ‘Groucho Marx Glasses’ (you know, the ones with the big nose and the mustache)—and do all my scenes with an Italian accent. It was perfect. I couldn’t lose. Or could I?
I was up. It was my time to shine. The scene started. I waltzed on stage, an air of confidence about me. I reached into my pocket. My secret weapon was there. I pulled out the Groucho Marx glasses. Gingerly placing them on my face, I opened my mouth to speak: ‘It’s-a me! Did you order a pizza?’ I was stifling my own laughter. I knew I was brilliant. But one question lingered: did anybody else?
The answer: no. My genius launched itself over the heads of [redacted] and [redacted]. There was not a lick of laughter from [redacted]. ‘Excuse me,’ said [redacted], ‘can you please take off the Groucho Marx glasses and stop doing the Italian accent?’
It’s funny the way some people in positions of power on this campus can look Einsteinian brilliance in the face and be too dumb to see it. But I knew it was my job to appease them. I took off the glasses, lost the accent, and—of course!—the scene fell apart. I heard nothing else from Titanic.
With the gift of hindsight, I am able to understand that those people were just not my people. They weren’t ready to push the form. They weren’t ready to challenge audiences. They weren’t ready for comedy.
I say this with complete sincerity: I am much happier to be a member of The Bix.