Saturday, August 18, 2012

Show Time

I've been dabbling in this stand-up comedy thing since the end of last year, because my self-esteem wasn't quite fragile enough and I needed to completely destroy it and put myself in public forums where my self-worth is determined by a bunch of strangers.

So far, so good. I've made the decision to just stop at least three times now, but because I can't commit to any decision I make, I'm still doing it.

I've always known that stand-up comedy is for young straight guys, so it is no surprise that 90% of the folks I'm with in "the scene" fit that description. What I was too silly to realize is that this is a scene that takes place at night, when I'm in bed. I can't do it from bed, however, thus my dilemma du jour.

The advice I've been given is "do open mics, do open mics, do open mics". I have been doing them, but since most start at nine, about the time I'm usually turning out the light so I can get up before five to get my day started, I can't get to many. I meet the young straight guys there and get to hear how they have done seven or eight that week. I few of them have jobs. A few. I'm an unfamiliar face, because I average about one a week, two if I'm wild and crazy.

I was fortunate enough to land a gig early on opening for a Drag Queen Brunch about a mile from the house. There are two things that should never be done in the daytime, in a well-lighted room; comedy and Drag. We did both. I had no idea what I was doing. The story is that when you first start out in comedy, your family and friends will show up for the first show, a few at your second, a sprinkling at your third and then you are on your own. That was an accurate portrayal of my experience. Again, I felt fortunate to have friends, family and co-workers show up. Those who didn't had excuses and asked me how things went. At first. No more. They stopped with the excuses by March, and they don't make eye contact if I say the word "comedy". Of course, this could be read in a couple of different ways. The first one is that they are busy people with full lives and families and other scheduled events and day to day chores and routines to attend to. The second way to read it is that I suck. I always pick Option B. It is just my nature.

Getting laughs and applause on stage is one of the biggest highs I've ever had in my life. It is clearly addicting as well. Getting crickets or seeing yawns or watching people walk out isn't quite the kicky cool sensation as getting the laughs for some reason. I'm getting used to it, however. I think I'm at about 50/50 these days. I truly have NO idea how good or horrible I am. I am basing a good performance on how many folks, preferably strangers or other comedians, come up to be afterwards to say "Great job, I really enjoyed that" in their sincere voice.

The brunch has ended and this Friday I am doing the first evening kinda sorta version of it, except now I'm the Host and not just the warm-up. And I am putting it together, which is something I've never done before. It has been fun, stressful and an adrenalin rush which is helpful because I'm having to do it in a limited amount of time and it kept me from sleeping. There is no time to sleep in Show Business.

We might get five people, we might get fifty. I might get a few laughs, I might get crickets. On Saturday I might decide to quit, or I might start my new plan to take over the world.

Stay tuned.