Every time I get on stage, I feel a bit more comfortable. Okay, truth be told, for some reason, I got very nervous a few minutes before I had to go on. More nervous than I was the last few times. Maybe it was because I was doing raunchy material. That’s what I call Blue Comedy. Raunchy. Not the way some of the younger generation likes to say embarrassing and disgusting things just to shock the audience. They say things like ‘eats ass’ alot. Probably because the younger generation follows the Kardashian madness and gets butt implants since they are having butt sex because they can’t get pregnant? I have no idea. That’s how I know I’m from a different generation, but I digress. 

         I went all the way across town just so I could get 7 minutes on stage. And if I didn’t get at least 3 people to show up, I only got 3 minutes. Anyway, I had 5 people show up for me. Two of them were my comedy buddies from a class I took. That’s when I realized that I had to make more of an effort to get out and support my fellow comedians. Yes, I can say that now. Call myself a comedian. I think I’ve done it enough to say that. Feels good. 

          I had to make some hard decisions. Travel across town for possibly 3 minutes on stage, when there are plenty of places out here in the East Valley. I’d heard that Stir Crazy was one of the best places for open mics. I’d heard good things, so I made a road trip out of it. Went shopping for shoes, met friends for dinner. One does not fight traffic in rush hour just for 3 or possibly 7 minutes on stage. Or does one? (keep reading)

  I am not sure why I suddenly got very nervous when I knew I was going on stage. Yes, I’ve been nervous before, but I think it was the raunchiness of my material that threw me. Could I say some of these things in front of civilized people? After all, I was a teacher for years and I would never have said any of these things in front of anyone. I couldn’t have parents and students know that I thought these things, let alone said them aloud. 

My heart suddenly started to race and I felt that nervousness that you get before a panic attack – almost. At my age, I never know if this is a heart attack or just nerves. I’m in good health, but you never know. Or maybe, it was being in the flow of the creative process.

So I did some deep breathing. 4 – 7 – 8. Inhale for 4, hold for 7, breathe out for 8. Repeat. That seemed to help. 

Well, ready or not, here I go. 

I like the smallness of this place. It’s cozy. And it’s dark. And I can only see a little of the front row of people. Everyone else is out there, but I’m up in the lights on the stage. It’s very surreal. Like I’m in some dreamworld. Like I’m in the Field of Dreams. 

So even though I was nervous at first, after a minute or two, I’m feeling more comfortable. I thought I was going to forget my jokes, even though I practiced and practiced. Made recordings. Listened to them a bunch. Amended my jokes. Edited. Made another recording. And continued the process over and over for 2 days until I couldn’t remember my own name. And yet, I’d forgotten my jokes before. That changed the timing of the joke. I had to add words that weren’t supposed to be there, or forgot to say things that made the joke work.

But tonight, I seemed to remember them. Suddenly, I was calmer. Not seeing the people, being in this little bubble of light, was what I needed apparently. 

But I could hear the people laugh. Or not laugh. Even as I working the stage, finally getting comfortable enough to respond to people when they said something – not hecklers – just responses. Every time they laughed, I made a note of it in my head, even though I had my phone in my pocket recording. Every time they didn’t laugh, I made a mental note of that too. 

I used to get adrenaline rushes doing cool shit, when my body was responsive, when my body was younger, when I could move without pain, when my body would recuperate quickly after any injury. Now, I’m getting my rush from this. From being on stage, from getting laughed at on purpose. From the sweet sound of laughter. 

Laughter has always been my elixir. Laughing at people, having people laugh at the things I say. I’ve always been able to make people laugh. I just see the world that way. But it wasn’t until I started writing jokes and learning about the structure of stand-up comedy that I realized – making people laugh in a doctor’s office or while having coffee or talking to random strangers – is NOT the same as standing on stage where people are daring you to make them laugh. This is the challenge.

We came here to scrutinize you. We came here so you could make us laugh – can you do it? It’s a lot of pressure. It’s writing a joke and twisting it a hundred different ways and seeing which way works the best. It’s writing a joke and delivering it to one audience who thinks it’s funny, but the next audience doesn’t even crack a smile. 

Well, I’ve got nothing to lose. I don’t need to do this to make a living. Do I need to do this? Perhaps. I just want to do this. It’s got my creative juices flowing. It’s gotten my attention.

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