Completely unavoidable, sometimes even unexpected, everyone has had a “first time.” Be it painfully awkward or disturbingly perfect — get your mind out of the gutter, folks — there isn’t a soul unable to identify with the countless emotions that surface before, during and after a first-time experience.
Chances are, there’s also a pretty good story — one likely loaded with nuggets of comedic gold — behind that initial junior high school slow dance or home perm job gone awry.
Shaye Troha knows firsthand about first times; the veteran member of San Francisco’s celebrated sketch comedy group Killing My Lobster makes her directorial debut in “For the Very First Time,” a comedic cornucopia about first time experiences that span from a child’s preliminary encounter with the boogie man to an interpretive dance number set to really bizarre pick-up lines.
“For the Very First Time,” which opens tonight and runs through Dec. 8 at ODC Theater in San Francisco, is not only a new experience for Troha, but also the Killing My Lobster team; the show marks the company’s first-ever all-female production in its 10-year history.
“It just seemed the right way to go,” says the director. “We have so many amazing women in this group; it was time to give all these ladies a bigger piece of the pie.”
The piece of pie for these funny females is certainly huge — considering the endless amount of material the subject affords. The writing process alone, says Troha, resulted in approximately 80 sketches, which were then narrowed down to 15 segments for the stage.
A Killing My Lobster production wouldn’t be complete without audience participation; show-goers are encouraged to participate in first-time theme nights scheduled for each Friday performance. The theme nights range from dressing up like it’s the first day of school to your first celebrity crush; the best costume scores a prize.
While none of the director’s personal firsts made the cut for the live program — Troha won’t be sharing details about her least favorite first: the time she was introduced to the slimy sensation of okra — she’s confident that the stories will strike a chord with audiences, no matter how wacky or completely random they are.
And random they are. One of her favorite sketches involves the first time an alien eats a bagel; the alien doesn’t quite understand how a bagel is different from a piece of bread.
“Whether it’s a job interview or the first day of school, your emotions are all over the place when it’s a first time anything,” says Troha. “Revisiting that in a comedy sketch conjures up all kinds of stuff and definitely makes for a good laugh.”
IF YOU GO
For the Very First Time
Presented by: Killing My Lobster
Where: ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday; closes Dec. 8 (no performances Nov. 22-23)
Tickets: $15 to $20