by Max Sparber in , ,

I used to like to joke that my goal was to be a professional basketball player, and that I hoped to play for the Washington Generals. This joke never went anywhere, so I removed it from my repertory, but now seems like a good time to explain myself.

The Washington Generals formed in 1952, since then have only managed to win six games. They have lost 13,000 times and counting. As a bookish art critic with a diet that consists almost entirely of gruel, if I have a shot at playing for any professional team, it is for the Generals.

They are, of course, the foil to the Harlem Globetrotters, who will be performing their signature comedy athletics this Saturday at CenturyLink Center. And the Generals might not be the best place to even start a discussion about the Globetrotters – I could easily wax eloquent for 1,000 words about their theme song, “Sweet Georgia Brown,” and the extraordinary version used by the sports team by the unfairly obscure Brother Bones.

But by now you must have noticed that I can wax eloquent about just about anything for 1,000 words. Since I mentioned a jazz standard, let’s move on to a related topic.

Some are content to listen, but for those of you inspired by great music to make some of your own, there is a workshop in songwriting starting on Saturday at the 402 Arts Collective. The three-part class, called “Find Your Voice: Songwriting Series,” is led by Kait Berreckman. Educated at the Berklee School of Music, Berreckman’s own music, or at least what I have heard of it on YouTube, pairs intimate, confessional lyrics with exquisite, jazz- and country-tinted melodies; it’s frequently exquisite.

I’m a bit surprised to discover improv troupe TheWeisenheimers are still about, only because they've been around so long, and improv teams typically have the lifespan of a garage rock band. I attempted to produce a series of late-night performances by them at the Blue Barn Theatre more than a decade ago, which, due to miscommunication that I still feel badly about, fell apart. I later worked with one of the former Weisenheimers, and he seemed sanguine about the whole affair, but still. You want to support local artists, and sometimes things go pear shaped.

They’re at the Pizza Shoppe Collective on Saturday, still doing the sort of short-form improv they were doing when I first met them – it’s the sort of improvised games that “Who’s Line Is It Anyway” made famous, and is about the most inherently crowd-pleasing sort of improv comedy out there. It’s a style that benefits from a quick wit and a sudden sense of the absurd, which I recall the troupe having in spades.

I still know one of the performers, in the way everyone in the local theater scene sort of knows each other. Theresa Sindelar is a mainstay of the local acting community, and is something of a Playhouse superstar, having turned in a series of brash, comically outrageous performances on their stage in the past few years. She possesses a certain performative fearlessness, which is always welcome in theater but absolutely essential in comedy, and should be on full display this weekend.

Max Sparber

Max Sparber is a historian, playwright, and critic. Follow him on Twitter or email him with your arts events at