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TRACI SKENE has appeared on VH-1's Standup Spotlight, A&E's Comedy On The Road and Lifetime's Girls Night Out, all of which has done her absolutely no good.

Traci Skene


Traci Skene

SHECKYmagazine Chief

Indecent Proposal

I am not what you would call a romantic person. This, it turns out, was very good news for my husband who is not what you would call a romantic man. In all fairness to us, I'm defining the word romance as forced and unnatural gestures of love. (As defined by me, not Webster. I'm also defining Webster as that big book with all the words in it, not the small boy with all the words coming out of him.)

During the 34 years I have roamed the Earth, I've realized that the stereotypical notions of romance worked much better in the pages of my adolescent diary than they ever did in my adult love life. Not that I haven't tried. Once in Las Vegas, my husband requested the Italian classic "Al Di La" from the accordionist whose job it was to serenade tableside all the lovers in the restaurant. Not only were we the only lovers present, but we were also the only people available. So, along with "Al Di La," we were forced to smile through "Three Coins In The Fountain" and the perrenial favorite "Lady Of Spain." I quickly discovered that nothing kills a romantic mood faster than trying to supress a laugh for 12 minutes.

My idea of romance is based on spontaneity rather than careful planning. I've always loved the scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are sent into a panic when the crustaceans they were planning to cook for dinner try to escape their kitchen. On paper, there is nothing romantic about it, but it is their reaction to the situation that makes it one of the greatest love scenes in cinematic history.

I am also a great believer that romantic gestures--whether forced or natural--should be done in private, far away from those of us who are easily embarrassed by such things. Therefore, I am quite disturbed by the not-so-recent trend of men proposing marriage in front of large groups of unsuspecting strangers. I've seen men propose on DiamondVision at baseball games. I've seen men propose in crowded resturants. I've even seen a famous man propose to an equally famous woman on a famous late night talk show. Yuck! Get a room!

Imagine my surprise when, during a recent engagement at the Comedy Zone in Burlington, VT, I was asked by management to help a man propose to his beloved from stage.

My intitial reaction was to say "no," and for two very good reasons: First of all, as a comic, I was terrified that his girlfriend would refuse and that somehow the crowd would hold me responsible for his rejection. The thought of bombing after such an incident did not exactly appeal to me. Secondly, on principle, I did not want to help perpetuate a ritual that I find so completely appalling. All of this went through my head in the five seconds before I heard myself say, "Yes, I'll do it."

I made it quite clear to those involved that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it my way. At approximately the six-minute mark of my act, I do material about engagements and bachelorette parties. I wanted the experience to look as spontaneous as possible and I wanted the crowd to believe that I was the one who was forcing this young man to make a commitment. I figured that only when he pulled the ring out of his pocket would people realize it was a setup.

My evil plan worked. The blushing bride-to-be said yes and the crowd response was thunderous. After the show, some folks still weren't sure if the events had been planned in advance.

It didn't really occur to me until later how important a role I had played in their young lives. That moment is one they will remember forever. Someday they will tell their grandchildren about the female comic who helped their granddad propose. Of course, they won't remember my name, but then again, I won't remember their names either. Who says I'm not a romantic? HOME Back to the Top