Warning: Not for geography teachers

Greg and I watched our friend James perform a sketch comedy show Saturday night. The comedians competed during the show. They earned points based on how the audience ranked their skits. At the end, the comedian with the most points won.

The show began with a lightning round. Audience members named a category, and the comedians lined up on stage. Each comedian had to name something that fit the category, for example, a cocktail, until someone flubbed. That person lost a point.

The second category — a favorite of every school kid — was state capitals. The media always tell us how schools are failing and children don’t know the difference between California and Connecticut, but there were some smart people on stage. James is a computer engineer and has a master’s from the University of Illinois, one of the best computer science schools in the country (and I’m not just saying that because I went to U of I, albeit, in journalism). I knew he would fly through the lightning round.

The category worked its way down the line, each comedian calling out a capital.

“Boston”

“Austin”

“Atlanta”

“Alabama”

Alabama? Poor James. It seems even after taking classes on genetic algorithms and parallel computer architecture, a guy still can’t remember Montgomery.

We talked to James after the show, and he said he had desperately fumbled for the capital of Alabama as his turn drew nearer. Then, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

Hope you win next time, James!