Recently I was going through a box of junk, and came across one of my old stand up notebooks. It was here I would record my “genius” bits to try out on stage. I flipped through it cringing and smiling at the same time. Which I guess is a good analogy of how stand up was in general. It can be awkward, humiliating, and empowering all at once.
Everytime I went up, I would bring a mini digital recorder. Then I would go home later and listen to it. I would write down what worked and what didn’t. Soon my notebook became a place not only to write bits, but also sort of a journal too. Here let me share some exerpts-
- When using the urinal tonight, a guy kicked the bathroom door open and yelled “This is where the dicks hang out!” At first I was startled, and kind of angry. But then again, he did have a point.
- A prop comic went up today. His stage name was Mario Jazzberry. Not very good at comedy. But very good at naming.
- Big weird bald guy was standing by me and not saying anything, carrying a camera, and breathing heavy. He leaned over to me and whispered, “Hey did you go yet?” I told him no, and he replied, “Good.” I didn’t want to go up anymore.
- Played Phil Collins “Invisible Touch” on a boom box before my set, to pump up the crowd. It shows potential, but not there yet.
- Fellow open miker got heckled by an Elvis impersonator, who really looked like Neil Young. When this was brought to his attention on stage he and his family threatened the comedian with violence.
- Tied for third place in the competition with a guy named “Crazy Larry.” Again. Will be having my own eating contest with myself tonight. That I will win.
I also got wasted before my first real show, and made call backs to jokes I never told. But that is a much longer story, and you get the basic idea of what my journal was like.
I’m glad I did stand up, and I have some good memories. But I was never fully committed. If you want to do stand up, you need to jump in and be there for the long haul. You have to really love it, to pursue it. Because it can be soul sucking and miserable. I figured I would always sort of learn to enjoy it like church or after school sports, but that never really happened. I only did it for two years during college, where I spent a majority of my time driving from open mic to open mic. Occasionally I got onto a booked show, that people actually had to pay to see. And I owe my friends a lot for always being so supportive and coming to them. Two drink mininums plus admission prices can be expensive, especially when you’re a broke college student.
Eventually I spent more time writing then I did preforming, and I found I enjoyed it more. I can’t say I miss almost barfing before a set, or waiting until midnight to go up on stage. But there’s nothing like crafting a joke from scratch, and seeing a whole room laugh at it. When you’re up there, you get instant feedback. You always know exactly where you stand. You’re either funny or your not. And that I’m glad I got to experience. Even if it was for just a little while.