11. Attend dinner theater.

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You’re looking for a fun evening out. You’re going on a date, perhaps, or maybe you want to entertain your parents while they’re visiting, or you’re possibly just so lonely and pathetic that anything other than sitting alone in your bedroom for several hours and crying yourself to sleep would be considered a successful evening. Whatever the reason, there’s a good time to be had, and by gum, you’re going to be the one having it.

So here’s the predicament: You want food, but you also want entertainment. You want something that will not only sate your desperate hunger, but also fill you with mirth and merriment. You want both sustenance and a veritable laugh riot. The answer is clear: dinner theater. Or, dinner theatRE, for the classier folk among you.

The marriage of terrible food and terrible acting are never so pronounced as the kind that populate your standard neighborhood dinner theaters. The evening starts off innocently enough. You mingle, you sip your water, you comment on the set “design”, which consists of a sole wooden panel painted up to depict a living room wall, though it more closely resembles an emergency room floor after a quadruple homicide.

Suddenly, the lights dim and all manner of raucous characters make their way onto the scene. They are loud and boisterous. They are wearing clothes that have most assuredly been rescued from the bargain bin at Bozo’s Discount Clown Supplies. They are painted up like common whores. Fake moustaches abound, as well as feathery boas, Hawaiian shirts, and all manner of fedoras. The improvisation begins, which, as these actors were most likely cast directly out of Larry’s Comedy Shack’s Beginner 1 Improv class, is not good. It consists mostly of yelling, singing off-key, and mercilessly mocking the audience. After a “plot” is established, usually by the commencement of a wedding reception, or a funeral, or a highly improbable murder of some sort, the end of the first act arrives. This is usually signified by a poorly-choreographed musical number and the suggestion that this mystery can only be solved with the diligent help of cunning audience members such as yourselves. So let’s get cracking, gumshoes!

Wait, wait. That festering corpse can wait – the salad course must be served first. The evening continues to abound with surprises, as you had no idea that such classically trained thespians were also versed in the art of food service. Out they come with platefuls of withered greens, moldy tomatoes, and dreaded cucumbers, shouting as they plunk the inedible salads in front of you and brazenly ridiculing your sorry excuse for an outfit. You thought you’d try to look nice for your fun evening. Now you realize that there was really no point in trying, as the man in the muumuu and sequined fedora has just informed the entire audience of your inability to decently clothe yourself. For shame.

The rest of the evening continues on in an endless cycle of deplorable theatrics and prison-grade cuisine. More zaniness occurs. Faces are pied. Ethnic stereotypes are flung about the room with reckless abandon. Perhaps another character is killed, most likely the Elderly Millionaire, the Village Slut, or Tony the Woppy Guido. Unidentifiable pieces of meat arrive as the main course, and you’re sure that if you dropped yours off the top of a building, it would bounce well into the next county. It’s all you can do to hide under the table when the inevitable time comes for people to be pulled up on stage and made to perform some sort of rain dance. Even the bathroom provides no refuge or escape, as those feisty little characters follow you right in, loudly announcing the arrival of your irritable bowel syndrome to anyone who might be listening.

So if you want to suck, attend dinner theater. Not only will you be out forty bucks, but you’ll also suffer a nasty bout of diarrhea, fail to solve the mystery, and end up feeling like more of a disappointment than ever. On the plus side, you’ve learned a thing or two about any and all desires to engage in merriment in the first place. They should never be trusted.

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