A Sucker…..For Punishment?

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It’s okay. You can admit it. At some point during my comedy career I’m sure some of you must have thought I was a sucker for punishment, based on the inconsistency at times of my sets. Some days are average, most days are below average, and very few turn out really well, at least so far.

I asked that question because tonight at the open mic it sort of dawned on me as more of a philosophical question more than anything. Do I do stand up comedy, do I continue to pursue it after four plus years because I look forward to the chance to fail and look bad, or do I pursue it because of the possibility, however small, to really do a kick ass set that night?

I have to admit that a part of me hopes to fail or at least not do as well as one would have liked just so I can add fuel to the fire to keep going. My friends first came out in bunches when I started comedy but had zero clue of what I was doing. Now that I have an idea what I am doing, I can’t seem to get those same people out to a show. Talk about irony, hey?

I don’t mind failing, or at least I used to not care that much depending on who was in the audience on that particular night. If there is a room full of people I don’t know and I do an “okay” job, I can live with that. But if that same room has some people (aside from the comics) that know me and I do that same “okay” job, it bothers me. It’s like I take more pleasure in failing when there are people I don’t know in the audience.

Do I do comedy because I want to succeed, or do I do comedy because I look forward to not hitting the mark on nights like tonight?

I had one comedian tonight tell me that on their worst night they would be better than me, even though they have a loose idea of what they will talk about. It’s not to say that I am throwing this person under the bus. I am sure they were being honest and sincere in their assessment of things, but it still made me wonder why I do comedy if even some of the comics don’t think I will do any better?

I have two guest spots booked at the professional comedy clubs in Saskatoon and Regina in the next couple of months. The stage in Saskatoon I have been on four times. Twice were average and the last two times were a learning experience to say the least. The show in Saskatoon in mid-February will undoubtedly for sure be piss-your-pants nerve wracking, nervous and scary for me. The shows at this pro club here in town have added significance to me and that much more pressure. It’s a completely different crowd than one that comes to a bar for an open mic. Even though things are slowly starting to see some improvement (like the crowd work, being spontaneous with the crowd) it’s still intimidating.

Frank Sinatra once said in an interview that before he heads on stage, the moments before the curtain rises, he wonders if he still has it, if it will still be there in the first few notes. Shit, when I get on stage I sometimes wonder if it will be there at all!

It’s scary, although fear can be a good thing. But the fear of fucking it up has held me in bondage so much at times, I am not able to properly harness that fear and use it to my advantage to do a good job.

The only thing that I need at my show in mid-February is the most important person in the world to be sitting near the front of the stage, or at least close enough where I can see them. I don’t know what it’s like to feel like a success on stage yet, or maybe that one moment happened so long ago I forgot what it feels like. It’s going to be scary, and I sure as hell cannot do it alone. At the same time, even though failure is a good teacher I have failed more often than not over these last four years. It’s time for me to start to justify the faith and confidence that people have in me to deliver the goods. Not to be awesome, just to do a decent job. I hate being comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s time to step up my game and be better for the one person in the audience that matters more than anyone else.

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