Theater sports game played by legions of high school drama geeks.

The game involves two players at a time: the first player recites the line:

"Honey, if you love me, won't you please, please smile?"

To which the second player replies:

"Honey, I love you, but I just can't smile."

If the second player manages to make it through the exchange without smiling, they win. Usually the game is played with some kind of rotation or King of the Hill format.

The game is suprisingly fun (as I have recently rediscovered; my drama geek days being long behind me) and suprisingly difficult. Best played in groups of 8-10 (or more) it is not uncommon for the whole room to explode in laughter when someone smiles or laughs.

Tips for causing smiles: eye contact, and lots of it. Appearing as though you are fighting a smile is often effective. Resist the temptation to make funny faces.

Tips for not smiling: calm yourself. Breathe deeply and try to slow your heart rate. Focus on something that is very mildly funny -- this seems to be easier than attempting to focus on something totally serious. Talk under your breath so your mouth muscles have something to do besides holding a straight face.

This game is a very good way to observe the process (and power) of the laugh response. People's laughter engines take a little while to warm up, but then they are easy to start again (every comedian is aware of that).

Over several years of playing this game in various different drama clubs, I've decided that the best way to avoid smiling is this: count.

You can count from one up, or you can count down from 100, or you can perform any combination of mental arithmetic. You see, when you concentrate on the numbers and not on what your "attacker" is saying or doing to you, it won't even occur to you to smile.

The hardest part is halting your concentration long enough to say, "Honey, I love you but I just can't smile." That will take self-control, but you can do it.

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