I took some time off of doing stand-up for a while. It was mostly the fame that was getting to me. The constant stares, all the autographs, and possibly some delusion. I knew I wanted to get back into it so I dusted myself off – earlier in the day I tripped over a loose wire on the floor and fell – and decided that it was time for me to take that stage once again!
There is a website called Parodify that I have been submitting jokes on – it’s like Facebook for comedy but everyone is collectively depressed and doesn’t shield it behind selfies and Marilyn Monroe quotes – and I’ve gotten some good response which elevated my self-esteem and I knew stand-up would crush it immediately into a fine powder.
Yesterday, 1/6/15, I made my way down to the Gotham Comedy Club after work. I had ideas in my head all day about the set I would put together, had some decent premises, and was completely ready to test them out. I stopped to sit down at the Starbucks around the block to collect my thoughts and get an official set-list together for a 4-minute set.
Here, unbeknownst to me, is where the trouble started. I was flipping through my notebook and picking jokes at random that made me laugh when I was reading them again. I was excited so I added them to the list completely unrehearsed and, honestly, completely un-memorized. But like a sailor looking for new land I lied to the crew – myself – and kept voyage forward come hell or high water or a cold sweat that would eventually lead me to close up on stage and stand there frozen as literally tens of people watched.
I’m a confident person when going through my material. I hit all the points I want to hit, people laugh and then declare me their overlord, and then I hop into my gold limo-plane and soar above the traffic laughing at them while showering them with wads of money.
I had my set-list – uhhhhh – set and eventually made my way over to Gotham to perform my material. I made my way downstairs to the lounge that actually hosts the open mic and it was somewhat empty which, oddly, kind of made me feel better.
“If no one’s in the room and no one laughs it’s not my fault!”
Something along those lines certainly popped into my head at one point.
Low-and-behold before too long the room started to fill up – I’m sure there were New Year’s Resolutions behind upheld – and the small area was full of hopeful comedians living out their DREAMS!
I took a seat in the middle of the room and started my slow progression into anxiety, turning itself into fear and finally ending at self-loathing. This always happens and, I believe, on some level it happens to even the most seasoned of veterans. It’s putting yourself out there emotionally and if no one connects it just means they would never want to hear you speak ever again.
Finally it was my turn to go on stage and I got through my set the way a baby deer walks after just being born. It was unstable, un-secure, and somewhat awkward.
Do deer sweat?
I, like most beginning comics, froze – in a way – when my jokes didn’t hit. I became frazzled and started falling apart like that 1980’s Member’s Only jacket I bought at a Salvation Army a few years ago. I nervously finished my set and hurried off the stage happy that I got back up there, sad that I didn’t do as well as I wanted, but inspired to come back and try to make someone die from laughing one day.
I hope I kill one of you one day with laughter.