So I was eavesdropping on that troupe of squirrels doing improv in the backyard when I noticed there was this chipmunk, dressed in a bow tie of all things, looking up at me and grinning in this way that just screams “sunflower seeds”. I tried to just sort of smile and shuffle off without committing to anything, but he started talking about how great it was that this gang had a venue in which to perform now, and how they were looking ready for great things, and how somebody really sharp with a modest investment could see them rocket out of the sticks and into at least regional importance.
I tried not to look offended that my backyard — mine, mind you — was being called the sticks, and I didn’t explain that all the giggling from the pond was not because it’d been installed as a laugh track (“it’s wonderfully awkward, laughing at all the wrong beats, it really throws the performances into this whole new area, and challenges the audience” which what?) but because we’d put fish in it.
Still, I made my getaway as quickly as I could. I know when somebody’s warming up to hitting me for cash.
I was impressed when the little squirrel improv troupe that’s been running out of our backyard got named by the local alternate weekly as one of the “20 Great Things Under 20 Inches” in their entertainment column this week and I went out to congratulate them. Of course it’s not that simple.
See, for visual interest, they included a photo of one of the squirrels — Alan — in a spiv outfit, and that was from a sketch that they thought was just “hack” and “too Monty Python pastiche, not enough us”. They’d been planning to drop it from the revue altogether, but with the press attention now they feel like they’re stuck with it. Worse, Alan doesn’t like being on stage; he’s happy developing characters and doing other backstage work and only ever went on in the first place because they needed somebody and the rest of the performing cast was already committed.
Well, I was sympathetic, of course, but isn’t it some kind of cosmic rule that when the public decides they like you, it’s going to be for the stuff you’d rather they didn’t like you for? Anyway, maybe in a couple weeks they can drop the whole sketch and Alan can go back to the work he really likes.
So maybe you remember I was trying to keep squirrels off the bird feeder by having a stand-up comic keep them rolled up into balls of cackling fur that would roll downhill from the bird seed, and that this just ended up a mess as the comic instead on telling controversial material. After that horrible scene I just tried not looking in the backyard after all and trusted that I’d come to regret this for some original reason.
Now it turns out the squirrels were bothered by that comic too, and disappointed that I didn’t find anyone to replace them, which explains that week they spent kicking my shins whenever I went to my car. (This was more effective than kicking my car’s shins, so good on them.) Turns out they’ve organized an improv comedy troupe to keep themselves entertained, and set up a little proscenium at the back of the garage, and the local free weekly’s named them one of the Up And Coming Events (comedy division) for their summer program, “Not Every Block Of Four Words Is A Potential New Band Name”.
I have to admit, I don’t get it. I think it’s squirrel humor. But now there’s a bluejay squawking about putting on a modern-dress version of Ibsen’s An Enemy Of The People, which seems ambitious for a couple birds’ first time out, but who am I to call anything impossible now?