Mary Radzinski is a Philadelphia based stand-up, writer, and comedian. She’s a regular feature at Helium, Goodnights, Cap City, and Punch Line comedy clubs. She’s opened for Dave Attell, Sarah Colonna, Jim Norton, Rosie O’Donnell and more, and you can see her on TruTV’s Greatest Ever. She just released her debut comedy album, Discomfortable this year. Recorded at Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia, Discomfortable features 21 hilarious tracks, including one-liners and stories about self-esteem, congratulating an expectant mother on her sobriety, and dating someone “smarter”. Discomfortable is available through iTunes, Apple Music, and Amazon. And now, she wants to help you save yourself from Small Talk hell, with these five tips that you will want to have memorized before you head out to Thanksgiving this year- a day overrun with terrible small talk traps. Buy Mary’s album, Discomfortable everywhere albums are sold, and good luck at your Thanksgiving table.
Small talk is enormous. Through trial and error and a desperation to avoid it at all cost, I’ve found a go-to response. These strategies will allow you to slip right through the social strangulation that is small talk. It’s not perfect; you may incur puzzlement and judgement, but trust me, it’s better than the alternative. Save yourself from wasting precious minutes of your life that you could otherwise spend watching murder documentaries.
“Do you have any kids?”
Believe me, there are zero potential follow-up questions coming your way. Once you’ve shared your answer, it’s important to half-smile and gaze toward something diagonally up and behind your inquisitor. A kite? A shooting star? A ghost from Christmas future? Doesn’t matter. This will ensure that your questioner continues to think about you through dinner that evening. “What did she mean??” An abortion reference? Did she lose her kids in a custody battle? Maybe she gave them away to a more maternal friend when she realized she wasn’t meant to be anyone’s role model (apparently it’s not kosher to leave anyone in the car while you get a pedicure, regardless how moderate the temperature). Either way, no one is going there. The half-smile will leave them thinking it’s probably the least tragic of conclusions.
“Are you married?”
A quick and easy way to express that you’re not interested in discussing your current relationship status. Again, a half-smile and Carebear stare through your querier will help to secure that this is the end of the convo. Divorced? Maybe. Widowed? Possibly. Complicated? Most definitely. A half-smile here ensures that your curious acquaintance will be looking for your face on every “Dateline” episode indefinitely.
“Are you single?”
Yet another handy way to express that you’re not interested in discussing your current relationship status, with a twist. You were single but now you’re in a relationship? You were single, got married, but things are complicated? (See Tip #2). You’ve met someone, but they don’t quite yet know you exist? You were single, but now you’re spending time learning ways to truly love yourself and not basing your identity through the lens of society? A subtle wink will leave them wanting more. Or at least they’ll shut the F up.
“You from around here?”
This is a fun one. Vague, cryptic. The half-smile is imperative here, as the only potential follow-up to this is, “What do you mean?”, and 9 out of 10 people aren’t interested in being that vulnerable with a stranger with crazy-eyes. You’re from here but you’ve moved? You’re from here, took off, and now you’re back? The neighborhood has changed so much that your soul isn’t at home anymore? You’ve never left but you’ve changed and this community no longer reflects the patchwork quilt that defines your truth? No telling, but good news, everyone gets to painlessly move on with their day.
“How about this weather?”
Grammatically, not a grand slam, but still gets the job done. Same rules apply with the half-smile, but now this serves as a surefire sign that you are not a stable person. The beauty of “Not anymore” in this situation is that no one can confirm or deny if you’re being rude. At first glance, you’re sick of this question. But upon further examination, maybe you’re highly evolved; meta. You’re awareness that the weather is completely out of our control and beyond our ability to even discuss will leave your prober hesitant to fall into this trap ever again. Think of all of the future people you’ve saved from the pain of this internal eye roll.
You may wonder if there are other examples where this response method can apply, and as nap time descends, I’ll just say, “Not anymore”.