Editor’s note: Every Friday, HLN brings you the "My First Time" series, which explores the first time your favorite celebrities did something significant or memorable (so get your mind out of the gutter!).
In this installment, actor and comedian Craig Robinson -- who stars in the upcoming film, "Peeples," a comedy in which Robinson's character tries to meet his girlfriend's parents for the first time and ask for her hand in marriage -- shares his secrets to impressing the parents.
HLN: What was it like to meet the parents of a serious girlfriend for the first time?
Craig Robinson: You know, I was always a polite kid, I was serious, I played piano. I think that worked with the parents. I’ve never had a mishap-after-mishap situation.
HLN: You’ve never had any trouble impressing the parents?
CR: Not really, no. Of course, I haven’t been invited to any houses lately…
HLN: So what’s your advice for guys who have a harder time than you making a good impression on the girlfriend’s parents?
CR: Clean yourself up. Maybe tuck your shirt in. Be yourself but be polite. Be honorable. And hope for the best: She’s daddy’s little girl -- it’s not going to be easy.
HLN: In the film, your girlfriend’s dad, played by David Alan Grier, is quite the control freak when it comes to his daughter. Do you think you’d turn into that kind of parent?
CR: I probably would be that kind of parent. He’s very protective of his family. It might be a little overboard, but what shines through is that he loves his family and is trying to protect them, so he forgets to give them a chance to grow and be themselves.
HLN: Any good go-to jokes for diffusing an awkward situation when meeting the parents for the first time?
CR: It depends on the moment, but one joke I like is: “Why did the man get fired from the orange juice factory? He couldn’t concentrate.” I don’t know how that would help in an awkward situation, but it’s good to throw out there. Or you could always sing, “Awwwwkward!”
HLN: What has been the most fun in filming this project?
CR: The whole cast would sing at work. That’s the best for me, because I grew up in church singing harmony. If you ever try to harmonize with somebody, a lot of people don’t do it -- they just don’t know how to do it. You’ll sing something together and they’ll jump to your note, and if you move to a different note, they’ll follow you -- it’s so frustrating. And when we would sing, we’d all be doing harmony, and David [Alan Grier] would sing this crazy note! Every. Single. Time. And it crushed us [with laughter]!
HLN: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from working on this movie?
CR: This whole film was about being yourself. I can’t speak for anybody but me, but sometimes it’s hard to do that. So that’s what I’ll take away: Try that first before you do anything else.