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February 16, 2011

My lunch with Second City, part 2

A little bit more from my lunch at Iggies with Second City Does Baltimore ensemble members Tim Sniffen, Megan Wilkens and Dana Quercioli.

All three have worked in restaurants at one time or another, and all have either had a hand in developing a restaurant sketch or talked about their service experiences in their stand-up routines.

Quercioli talked about her favorite server trick. If she forgot to put in an order, she'd come to the table and say, "the kitchen overcooked your steak. I'm not going to serve it to you." They fell for it every time.

Sniffen tells this story about his first real waiting job, in San Francisco. 

He had forgotten, when picking up his appetizers, to tell the kitchen (already very cranky) to start the entrees. He'd have throw himself on the mercy of either the kitchen or his customers.. His solution -- he did nothing. He simply never returned to the table, and he was careful never to make eye contact with them again.

Eventually, the table called over a manager and said, "Yeah, our waiter has stopped speaking to us."

Amazingly, Sniffen wasn't fired.

We talked mostly about crazy customers and nightmare shifts (Quercioli had a memorable one at the Hard Rock Cafe -- "I thought at the time, 'this is the worst day of my life.'")

When the ensemble asks audience members, toward the end of their shows, to suggest specific settings for improvised bits, they very frequently get names of local restaurants throw at them. Just the night before, the setting for such an improv was the City Cafe.

"Wherever you find tension," Sniffen suggested, "comedy is nearby."

Who's got a funny restaurant story? 

Posted by Richard Gorelick at 12:30 PM | | Comments (3)


I was a busgirl at Chili's for a period of time in college. Every shift there was the worst day of my life.

I served an English afternoon tea for 13 years. In all that time, probably fewer than half a dozen folks asked for coffee, and uncomplainingly drank tea upon learning coffee was not on the menu. I was therefore kind of surprised one afternoon when delivering a steaming pot of tea to four folks who had just been seated - and were pouring Diet Pepsi into their teacups, with two six-packs arranged as the table's centerpiece. I smiled and pre-emptively apologized for (British-ly) not having ice.

Worked at Bo Brooks one summer and had to watch tourists slam crabs to pieces and be asked for the asian beer, yingling

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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