Originally published on Medium.
Every day, there are men and women around the world acting their asses off to make a living. I’m not talking about the ones on stages or on television, I’m talking about the ones in restaurants and cafes.
I know, the title might seem a little silly, but bear with me here.
Recently, myself and my lovely wife went on a month-long trip to Canada/US. It was an awesome experience for sure, but this post isn’t about the trip, but about what I noticed when we were served by the waitresses and waiters.
It’s a phenomenon. It really is. Millions of individuals working in the food industry work for tips in order to make a decent living.
Make no mistake — I’m not writing this post out of pity, nor am I writing it to talk about the confusing nature of America’s minimum wage system, but about the remarkable way these workers perform. They perform much like an actor or a street performer would.
Performing With Miraculous Spontaneity
Picture this for a moment — you’ve just received your food, you’re in a party of six and all of a sudden, one of your mates says, “Um — this isn’t what I ordered. I’m a vegetarian. This has meat in it. And there’s a hair.” Sure, it’s likely that this scenario is somewhat uncommon, but humour me. The poor server has seconds to react to this huge cock-up in fear of looking like an idiot in front of the guests. This scenario can go in a couple of different ways;
- The server will freeze. He’ll look incompetent and will eventually take care of the issue
- The server is quick on their toes and will immediately react to the problem. They’ll grab the situation by the balls, smile and rectify it
It’s this ability to be able to react these situations and perform in an improv situation that makes them a
These talented workers adapt to each situation like it were a different scene, a different act, even, and their efforts are rewarded – in some cases, quite well.
Improv in itself is a wonderful sight. Some of today’s most successful actors had their humble beginnings in improv (see: The Groundlings) and have made a career (for the most part) on improvised performance.
Word to producers looking for fresh new faces: go to your nearest food joint or Cheesecake Factory. You’re gonna find performers who know how to react when you find a hair in your soup.