Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Comedy's Dirty Little Secret

As you should know, I suffer from performance anxiety. When I told this to a headliner friend, she told me that a lot of comics take beta blockers. So I started taking them before important shows.

Fast forward to this Friday night, where I was showcasing my incredible talents for this booker in Connecticut. I did a great 12 minute set. Unfortunately, I was onstage for 15 minutes. The problem? I forgot to take a pill before the show.

Around the 12 minute mark, I forgot what I planned to do for my next bit. A normal comic would probably be able to just think of another joke in their repertoire, but I couldn't. Even though I have about 30/35 minutes of material I'd feel comfortable doing in an A club, I couldn't remember any of them. I started doing crowd work, trying to remember any joke. The only jokes I could recall were either ones that I hadn't done in a couple of years and ones that I had just written and hadn't even put up on any show yet.

Of course on the tain ride home (which took forever), I thought of all the jokes I coulda/shoulda done, including my jokes about having stage fright.




Shieldmaiden96 said...

Sweetie, you get my utmost respect for even DOING it. People say to me all the time "You should do standup". I would rather stick my hands in a shattered car window and deal with a gnarly trauma (and as a matter of fact, I do) than stand there with everyone eyeballing me trying to be funny on purpose. I can't think of anything scarier.

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

And why again do you do this to yourself? When you characterize your profession, do you call it fun? And I agree with Shieldmaiden. Only thing scarier would be to do what you're doing naked.

Bring your pills next time!

Harris said...

hey shield,

sometimes it is scary, but sometimes, it's like art.

Hey Kathy,

see above (i do it for the latter times)


Abbi Crutchfield said...

It happens. It's going through moments like that that make you better. There is a label on this post called, "I Suck". Remove that concept from your brain immediately! You closed the show fabulously at a cafe that doubled as a sauna, where a dog was weaving in and out of performers' feet. Change that label to "I Rule".

@ Kathy: There is a show where you can do it naked.

Harris said...


I think I was down to my college weight by the end of my set.

I actually have a post here about going to that naked comedy show - too lazy to find and link to it.


Count Sneaky said...

Bravo! Pursuing your art in any field can be tough and produce much anxiety.
I had to ,during my working days as an art director and creative director, stand up before groupd of executive and deliver a pitch about the agency's creative ability. As a porop to hold on to I had a drumstick and would tell them something silly like "My wife gave me a matched set of pointers...I lost the other one! " I would change props during the spiel. Anything to associate parts of the presentation with a prop. Silly but it worked to keep their interest ad made it easier for me. At any rate, It's a very tough thing to stand up before a crowd and hol their interest. I aaplaud your courage. My best.