#14 Perform Stand Up
I’m not entirely sure when it was that I first considered doing this. Maybe it was the combination of thinking I am pretty funny combined with the desire to overcome my horrific stage fright that pushed me towards it. What I do remember is sitting at the ImprovBoston bar with John and Tim talking about how we should all take Stand Up 101 together - just to see what would happen.
Luckily, we all honored our blood pact and signed up.
During the few weeks leading up to the start of the class we were all nervous and tried to put it out of our minds. None of us had tried our hand at stand up before. I thought about backing out many times with no regrets. I’m a very busy person as it as and giving up three hours during a Sunday afternoon seemed like a huge sacrifice at the time. And it was, but it was most definitely worth it.
On the way to the first class, I had a minor anxiety attack. Thankfully, this was the week our instructor, Dana Bein, did most of the talking about expectations and the comedy scene in Boston. He then had us do two writing exercises that I failed miserably at. Dana is a supportive teacher, so I didn’t feel like my “jokes” were being judged harshly and that the whole point of the exercise was to give you a jumping off point to start writing. Once I understood that concept, I was able to relax and enjoy the class.
The second week we also stood in front of our peers while they pointed out assumptions about us. This is everyones nightmare, but the worst thing said about me was that I look like I own a lot of teddy bears. If having a massive collection of Care Bear memorabilia from the 80’s is wrong, I don’t want to be right. (This is a true fact about me). This was a game I ruled at. I pointed out things like “You have someones name tattooed on you” and “You look like you recently lost a lot of weight.” I should work at a carnival. Hey, I call ‘em like I see ‘em, folks.
The rest of the classes were spent workshopping our material and formatting it to fit within the three minutes we would have to perform it at our grad show. There were some hilarious people in my class and it was really cool to be a part of the creative process along side them. Everyone worked so hard and there was a massive change in everyone’s sets from week to week as we became more comfortable as performers and writers.
My material had gone over pretty well in class. During the two weeks leading up to the performance, I only made some minor adjustments. Personally, I felt good about what I had written and thought it was original. I decided to focus my energy on memorization, delivery, and just becoming generally comfortable with talking about three embarrassing topics in my life in front of a room mostly full of strangers.
The day of the show I ran through my material all day long. In the bath, while running, while cooking, at the vet, drying my hair - EVERY POSSIBLE MOMENT was spent preparing. I was terrified to fail in front of my friends and co-workers. Even if I bombed, I would have to see all these people again. I couldn’t just fall of the grid. I am on the ImprovBoston grid. Big time.
For a little added insurance I wrote my set list on my hand (See below - no spoilers before the video!). I didn’t end up referring to it, but it was there if I needed it and that helped my brain relax a little.
I was slated to go on 3rd out of 20 and had the distinction of being the only vagina in our class (there were more that performed later from the level 201 class, but whatever, I’m special). The two gentlemen that went on before me did a tremendous job and made it so much easier for me to go up on stage AND KILL IT. Graduation show audiences are the best audiences that you will ever have. It’s a room full of people that know you’re new to this and want to see you be successful. They don’t want to heckle or boo or question your material. They want to be your cheerleader. And lucky for me, I had six cheerleaders in the audience that night - one of which was awesome enough to record my set on my phone for me.
I have a picture of the setlist that I wrote out on my hand, but that’ll have to be in another post because I can’t figure this tumblr thing out.
Will I do it again? It was a fun experience, but I am not disciplined enough to write. Occasionally things happen in my life that I think are funny and then work on how I would convince other people that those things are funny. I mean, my cat’s penis enlargement, that pretty much speaks for itself. So, I guess anything is possible. Look for me to potentially grace the stage of some open mic nights in 2012.
Click here for more information on ImprovBoston’s Comedy School classes. (In addition to stand up comedy, there is also sketch and improvisation.
#14 Peform Stand Up - Completed on 12/18/11
Original List of 30 Things to do Before I turn 30 is here