Running Ahead A Week Of Chasing Fear
I’m going to try to get ahead of this one while I have some free time.
Two thirds of the team I work with is out of town for a wedding so my workload has lightened enough for me to find more than just pockets of opportunity to get things done.
I’ve been spending the weeknights slipping out to go to at least one open-mic to practice bombing. I should be more specific: because the act of bombing is incidental. You can attempt to bomb but that’s not really in your control. What I’ve been doing all week is actively avoiding using any prepared or tested material. Just getting up on stage and forcing myself to get comfortable just saying whatever is on my mind without worry of boring or offending the audience. It’s a hard feat. I’m naturally geared towards making sure the audience is having a good time. This is the ideal as a comedian: these people get me and we’re enjoying ourselves. Problem is being on stage, in the spotlight, with a time limit no less makes one sensitive to noticing the subtle ticks and clues as to what the viewer is experiencing. It’s usually wrong. The immediate thought when people aren’t laughing is: they hate me. This is boring. I suck. But the reality is we’re just not doing as good as we’d expected to do in our minds. And that’s what I’m combating.
The point is to make sure I’m comfortable working the audience with a blank head so on the off chance that my material doesn’t rock the fucking house I won’t go into panic mode. A week of playing the audience with no material sets the nervous systems expectations to a very low degree so when I’m on stage throwing out jokes that have worked in the past I’m not going to lose my nerve if they don’t laugh. I’ll hopefully just pivot.
This is the theory at least. I don’t know if it’ll actually work but lately I’ve been following the path of most resistance in getting myself to where I want to be as a comic (and in general a professional entertainer). Essentially: if it’s scares me, I should do it.