This is one of those weeks that my creativity has been drained and I’m not sure what to write about. So I thought I’d tell you why my brain isn’t coming up with anything terribly original for this week’s blog. It’s been on overload for quite awhile.
As many of you know, I successfully completed a six-week course to become a stand-up comic at the Students of Stand-up School at the Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano. It was one of the most fun experiences of my life and “graduation” was a live performance in front of an audience, presumably filled with family and friends. I had a wealth of material just from living the life I live, so that part wasn’t hard. The hard part was being able to tell those stories and make people laugh.
By the way, I don’t think anyone who ever takes the course fails. Therefore, I probably didn’t need to use the word “successfully” in the opening line of this paragraph.
I was a wreck that whole day of my debut performance/graduation…I compared it to knowing you are going to have labor induced. The end result will be great, but you have to get there first.
I was with an exceptional group of people in our class and we had a great camaraderie right from the start. When your classmates are still laughing at the same stories you’ve told to them every week for five weeks that speaks volumes in itself. Tom Riehl, our instructor (for lack of a better title) has been performing for 18 years and happily shared his expertise, even helping each of us come up with some punch lines and tag lines for our bits.
You know what I learned most of all? Comedy is hard!
I came away with a new respect for people like Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld. Granted, they each probably have a stable of writers to help them out now, but when they started they were in the same boat we who graduated just set sail in. Originality in comedy has a formula. That was something else I learned. I have been watching my favorites perform for so many years that it just seemed natural, which is a gift. Next time you watch one of them on TV, pay a little attention to their rhythm. Good comics should have a laugh every 15 seconds…Robin and Jerry (very forward of me to refer to them by first names only, don’t you think?) probably have a laugh every 5-10 seconds…and applause.
If I had a laugh every minute I was thrilled. Wait, correction…every minute and a half!
Despite my anxiety, I didn’t panic …I attribute that to the glass of wine I had before going onstage. I’d made sure that MOTNSO (“More Often Than Not Significant Other”) was not in the front row because those were the only people I could actually see because of the blinding spotlights.
It didn’t start out well when after Tom introduced me and left the stage I couldn’t get the microphone in the right spot for my height…I talk with my hands so I opted to leave it in the stand instead of holding it. A call out from a friend in the audience made me laugh (“You go, girl!”) and suddenly I felt almost at home there. And so it began…
It felt really good for seveal reasons:
First, people did laugh even though some of them already knew my stories because they knew me. I missed a couple of spots and forgot at least two of my jokes (but as Tom kept telling us “If you forget one the only person who will know is you.”)
Secondly, I went waaaaay out of my comfort zone for the first time in a long time. I kept telling myself ”What’s the worst thing that can happen? people will laugh at you?” Wasn’t that the idea? (I didn’t dare think that the worst thing would be if people didn’t laugh at me.)
Thirdly, I did something I’ve always wanted to do but before this never had the courage. This was on my bucket list! With the support of my new comedy buddies ( BIG shout out to Wendy “Gwen” Gallo, Barry Gorelick, Walt Stevens and Nancy Pirozzi…and, of course, Tom Riehl!) I got up there and had a fantastic time…if you’ve missed it (although I’ve had it all over the place so it would be unusual if you haven’t seen it!!) Here’s the link, as well as links for my professional friends’ websites…I’m officially their “groupie”…hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
My performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kl1fMgnYbk
Students of Stand-Up (Tom Riehl, Unriehl Productions)
http://studentsofstandup.com/ … also:
South Coast Comedy/Honey Productions: http://southcoastcomedy.com/
Camino Real Playhouse: http://www.caminorealplayhouse.org