It’s impossible to do something out of the ordinary when you’re 51 years old without someone saying “is that on your bucket list?” It’s like they believe that I’m going to kick the bucket just because I’m older than they are! Certainly I drink too much, I eat too much, I drive too fast, but I still expect to live forever! But why does running a marathon, jumping out of an airplane, buying a sports car, and doing a pro-am night at a comedy club become a bucket list item? Maybe I just want to challenge myself!
For years, I have come up with ideas for comedy. I do my best work riffing with a friend or one of my brothers in a very spontaneous way. When I’m with a small group, I come up with some hilarious stuff! But my audience is clearly biased towards laughing at me. They know me, they know my twisted mind, and the still like me. So how do you transfer that spontaneity to a structured, easily translated comedy bit at a local comedy club? You can’t! You can’t take a “had to be there” moment and turn it into a comedy bit that strangers will find funny. That’s the challenge of doing stand-up. Making strangers laugh.
I finally decided that I was going to enter a pro-am night at a local comedy club. There were about 15 people who were just like me. Some of them had experience while others of us were rookies. Some were really, genuinely funny while others struggled to get laughs. While I was in the audience waiting for my turn, I would laugh for the comics out of courtesy because that’s what I would want for me. I have no fear of performing in front of a group of strangers, I have a fear of failing in front of a group of strangers! Now that I’ve written that, I see how ludicrous that statement is! If the audience is a “stranger,” why do I care what they think? Failing in front of people you will never see again is not a problem! It’s actually a strength. You can free yourself to be yourself when you know you’re trying to impress strangers! Fuck them if they don’t think you’re funny!
The video of my first attempt at standup is at https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3930959439355 I’m pretty sure it’s public, so you should be able to see it.I was really nervous before it was my time to go up there. I had a lot of friends come to see me and I didn’t want to let them down. But once I got up there, I relaxed and had a great time! Since then, there are lots of people who are offering me jokes by saying “you can use that the next time you’re up there.” Everyone, without fail, has said “I’d like to do that but I don’t have the balls to do it. You must have some big balls!” I don’t know how the size of my balls became a topic of conversation, but, thanks?
I guess the moral of the story is, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will always get the same results. If you stretch yourself, you may be surprised by how much you’ll grow.