She Said, Z Said: Skittish About After-the-Fact Performance Anxiety? Rewrite
Just because it's Harvard, doesn't mean the lampooning won't require a do-over
Z: You know who I am?
She: Um ... Mr. Leslie Dinaberg?
Z: I’m the guy who’s still rewriting the talent show skit he was in three weeks ago. That’s who I am.
She: I saw that skit. You were brilliant. By far the most talented person in the Harvard Class of 1987. Happy Father’s Day. Don’t sweat it if those people aren’t smart enough to recognize your brilliance like I do.
Z: It’s ridiculous. I was asked to be in a skit for the reunion talent show on the day of the skit. I had two lines, which I read from a script on stage. And the skit totally bombed.
She: It wasn’t that bad.
Z: It was terrible. But I didn’t write it, I didn’t star in it, it was a five-minute skit that we rehearsed for two minutes, it’s three weeks in the past, and no one remembers it.
She: Case closed. You’re much better at math than I am.
Z: But that skit could have been very funny. And so, as I ride my bike to work, I try to figure out ways that I could have saved it, that I could have made it funnier.
She: Do you do that with your own writing?
Z: Never. But then, my own writing doesn’t get performed. I don’t really know when it bombs. The skit bombed, so I feel like I should save it.
She: A little late for that.
Z: I’ve always rewritten things in my head, especially confrontations or other heightened moments. Things where I come up with the perfect line two days later. I guess that’s why I’m a writer and not a stand-up comedian.
She: You need to move that energy into rewriting stuff that actually matters. You know, stuff that pays bills. Actual words that you write in the first place.
Z: That sounds dangerously like work.
She: Besides, I think a skit that only 15 percent of the audience laughed at fit in perfectly with that talent show.
She: Seriously? That was a fabulously random talent show. Not at all the juggling and drunken fight songs I was expecting.
Z: That’s what I should have done to save the skit. Fought a juggler.
She: There was an alumni jazz band that was awesome, a funny stand-up comedian, a world-class harpist, and a guy with a guitar getting 1,000 cynical people to sing along with him. American Idol has nothing on that talent show. Plus, Peter Sagal hosted it, the Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me! guy on NPR. He looks nothing like he sounds, by the way.
Z: It was definitely an odd show.
She: Spectacularly odd. So you want to know who you are? You’re a guy who went to a school where they could convince a bunch of randomly talented alums that they should perform for all the other alums, and convince those other alums to watch. Where else are you going to gather a room full of 47-year-olds to do that?
Z: Forty-seven-year-olds don’t really have a club house.
She: Which was one of my favorite parts about the whole experience. It wasn’t even my class or school, but we got to gather and see a bunch of people our own age.
Z: It’s a kick to hang out with 800 people who are all your own age.
She: Once college is over, that sort of clumping with your peers doesn’t happen anymore.
Z: But it was also a little disturbing to see what we look and sound like now.
She: We don’t look like that. Everyone else does. We still look like we’re 20. In fact, you look even better now than you did when you were 20, especially compared to all those old guys from Harvard.
Z: No need to rewrite that line, my sweet, delusional wife.
She: Stop trying to rewrite recent history, it’s a waste of time. I know who you are.
Z: Who’s that?
She: You’re the guy who’s going to be the sweet husband who rewrites this column for the next three weeks until it’s perfect.
Z: Nah. Too much work.
She: Yes, dear.