I was nervous.
More nervous than I usually am, but that’s to be expected after not being on stage for three months.
It took a while to finally land on what material I would present to a crowd who would expect to laugh at what I had to say and I didn’t want to disappoint them – more so than I expected myself to.
When all was said and done I did a hybrid set which combined two stories that I have told on separate occasions, fused them together, and created a new “tag” at the end to tie it all in a neat little package.
I felt good about the set. I had some success previously with them so this time it should be a home run!
It was two nights before the show that I started to freak out. Not entirely sure why though, probably because I hadn’t been on stage for so long and I wasn’t sure if my faithful fans would even recognize me!
The day of the show finally arrived and I was all set. I was going through my routine and hitting it with the accuracy of a Russian figure skater whose family was being held captive until she secured the gold.
I walked out of work with my head held high and walked the 20 blocks to get to the club while reciting my set probably four or five times and making small adjustments where I felt they were necessary.
Once I reached Gotham the typical pins-and-needles took over and I was ready to take the stage at that moment, too bad I was an hour early and when I went up to the mic to check the sound I got little to no reception from the empty room, except someone that sounded exactly like me was repeating my jokes.
Eventually I was told to get off the stage because “we don’t just let people walk off the street and perform” according to the club manager. I then told him I was performing that night to which he replied, “then someone made a BIG mistake.”
Confidence at an all time high.
The nerves started to kick in once again and I became more nervous and I knew to calm them I had to see where I was going on that night.
I got the list of names and started to search for mine. When I got to the halfway mark I knew I was in trouble. I desperately wanted to go on within the first five acts because I was rusty and wanted to get it over with. I continued on down the list and, unlike the “cut list” for my middle school baseball team, my name was sitting there on the bottom.
Second to last.
Between two pros.
The show went off without a hitch. I got to meet some really cool people that night and as each act went up my anxiety grew and pretty much because a person that was sitting next to me constantly asking if I had to puke yet.
“Next up Robert F. Peterson!”
I walked up on stage, grabbed the mic, and away I went. Plunging into the deep abyss that is my comedic material and hoping that the crowd didn’t all stage a walkout at that exact moment.
I wasn’t 100% happy with my set that night. I fumbled at a few points, but still got through it with my dignity – that’s up for debate though.
I may have been tougher on myself than I should’ve, or maybe people just took pity on me, because I got the best reception from the crowd I have ever gotten after the show ended. Multiple people made sure to tell me I did a great job and they really enjoyed my set, which meant a lot to me. The highlight was when I said thank you to the manager – who, to be fair, didn’t actually say anything I said before – and he told me I did a great job and that I was put in a tough spot being at the end and between two professional comics and that I should be proud of what I did.
It meant a lot to me.
Confidence at an all time high.