Total Time: 5 hours
Total Cost: 8 dollars for a drink at an Open Mic Night (results may vary)
Stand-up comedy had long been filed in the category of “things I’d like try some day”. I’m a huge fan of stand-up, and on more than one occasion I had brought myself as far as completing first drafts of a 5 minute set and attending open mic nights but had never been brave enough to actually step on stage.
This week (much like last week) was a struggle to keep under the 5 hour time limit. I didn’t want to stop short of writing actual funny material, and I didn’t certainly didn’t want to be unprepared and forget my act while I was on stage. This meant that I had to spend the vast majority of my time fine-tuning and memorizing a good idea instead of spinning my wheels trying to come up with good material. My tactic to save on time was to not spend any actual time creating the premise for my set, but waiting until I naturally came up with a funny idea and writing it down to be fine-tuned later.
In all honesty I came up with the premise for my act while having sex with my girlfriend. While doing something I’ll politely describe as “third base” I thought to myself “man, this would be so much easier if I had The Force”. After we finished up I wrote down a quick note of my idea in my phone, “do people use the Force to beat off?”, and by the time the weekend rolled around it was best premise for a stand-up bit I had come up with.
As the premise for my act was something that I came up with naturally I found it incredibly easy to rant and write about the subject of Star Wars and sex. By the time I had finished organizing my thoughts into what felt like a cohesive bit I had far more than enough material for my 4 minute set. I preformed the act for my girlfriend and my dad, took their advice into account, and trimmed the fat from my act to make the best 4 minutes of material I could. I spent my 5th hour pacing back and forth in my room repeating the act to myself over and over to find the funniest way to phrase certain ideas. By trying out different voices for my act (angry, calm, aloof, etc.) I found that my bit flowed best when I was animated and energetic. My tactic for not getting nervous on stage was to pretend to be as energetic as possible. If I was energetic and confident then perhaps I wouldn’t have any time to get nervous.
When the show started my heart began pounding in my chest. Every few minutes I had to close my eyes and take a deep breath while the performers before me were doing their acts. I was fortunate to not be the first comedian on stage as I wasn’t able to fully calm my nerves until midway through the guy before me.
When it was finally my turn to go the host mispronounced my name and asked the crowd to give me a warm welcome. When I picked up the mic and started my act I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was “in control”. I didn’t feel like I was spewing a memorized lines but flowing mostly naturally through my ideas. When I was given the one minute warning I was able to shorten the final piece of my act (the part about Mr. and Mrs. Fantastic having sex) and get off the stage without any major hitches.
Much to my surprise both the host and the other comedians were very complimentary of my confidence on stage. In all honesty I didn’t feel very confident in my material at all. It seemed that my stage tactic of channeling an energetic character had successfully created the illusion of confidence in my act, something I’ll definitely remember going forward if I ever decide to get back on stage.
At the end of the day my act was far from a huge success, but my mission had been accomplished. I finally got the monkey of stand-up comedy off my back and feel as though I have 5 and 50 to thank for that.
See you next week,