Last night, Harry and I went to Ask Roulette at the Housing Works Bookstore & Cafe in SoHo. This was our second time to go to the quarterly event (the first time was our first date—I’ll hold for your aww), and it was just as much fun as last time. Maybe more, since we were a whole lot less nervous and it was also Ask Roulette’s one year anniversary.
In case you don’t know how Ask Roulette works, you come prepared with a get-to-know-you question of some sort (Who’s the last person you kissed? Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met? If you had to either kill a chimp with your bare hands or have sex with it, which would you choose? If you could confess something to someone without consequence, who and what would it be?). You write it down and put it in a box attached to a number, and take your seat. Host Jody Avirgan calls someone up by number, asks them a question, which they answer, and then they close their eyes while he calls someone else up by number. Split by a screen (see photo), the first person asks the second person the question they wrote down earlier, and after it’s answered satisfactorily, the first person sits down. The now only person on stage closes his or her eyes, Jody calls another number, and the process goes on for about two hours.
What’s really great is that any question is pretty much always good—you’re going to ask it of a complete stranger, and you never know what they’ll say. You don’t have to play, if you’d rather observe, but there’s really nothing more fun than getting on stage and being able to do a little bit of jokes while you’re up there.
To make things a little more fun, there are always a few local celebrity guests. Last night’s guests were Esquire editor AJ Jacobs, writer/performer Julieanne Smolinski, and How to be Black author Baratunde Thurston. Last time we went, the guests were comedian Chris Gethard (who I’d recently seen in ASSSSCAT! 3000 at UCB), Improv Everywhere founder Charlie Todd, local newsman Pat Kiernan and The Hairpin editor Edith Zimmerman. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Eli Bolin of Sesame Street is off-stage with all of the keyboard improv you could want. Last night, Harry got played on stage to Here Comes the Bride (they’d just been talking on stage about Say Yes to the Dress) and I was played on with The Girl from Ipanema, so that was great.
It’s a quarterly event where the best (or most interesting) questions and answers are cut into a podcast released within a few weeks, which you can find on iTunes.
All in all, it’s a really great time, and if you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it. The next one is in March, so if you’re there, I will see you then!
PS If you don’t know about Housing Works, it’s a small chain of NYC thrift stores that are run entirely on donations and volunteer power, and all proceeds go toward the HIV/AIDS community in the city. If you have a hand or time or some stuff or some money that you don’t need, please consider donating it to these wonderful people.