Comfortably Uncomfortable

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Every so often I need a challenge in comedy, something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be something I will succeed at, but something that will make me uncomfortable.

Two things are present now that I never used to experience. First, I am finally getting consistent sets under my belt. I don’t embarrass myself anymore onstage. The other important point is that I’m able to adlib or turn things around by going “off script”. I never used to be able to adlib to transition into the next bit. Not anymore.

That uncomfortability I speak of usually comes in the form of the big stage, in other words a paid gig at one of the pro comedy clubs.

As mentioned before, there are two things that usually accompany a paid gig at a pro club. The first is that people are paying to be there. They have expectations, and rightly so, that the performers that night will be professionals and know what they’re doing.

The second thing is that I usually get crippling fear or anxiety. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach before the show, and it’s usually a feeling that things won’t go well. With the guest spots I was a part of, there was no real fear. But when you sign a contract, when you are contractually obligated to deliver laughs for a half hour, what can I say? The expectations get to me. Every paid set I’ve had hasn’t gone rather well.

Aside from the very first one, at least my legs don’t shake anymore!

I’m able to deal with the silence on stage.  There may be some inner turmoil working within me but I never let it show.  I’ve failed enough that I have several options now to be able to dig out of that hole, which comes from being able to write and expand my material base.

The next time I get a paid spot at a comedy club (not an open mic but at one of the pro clubs here or in Regina), I almost want that to happen, hopefully with some people there to support me.  Just to have that room silent, the audience not knowing what’s going to happen next, how will he deal with this?  What will he say or do?  I enjoy those moments because it’s a chance to prove people wrong and show my experience in dealing with the situation to have it turn out in my favour, even if I have to make myself the butt of the joke to get the audience to react.

The anticipation of that show will be worth the wait, especially given my history of those shows.  They haven’t been overly successful, then again there are some openers that don’t set the stage on fire, which maybe are the reason why they don’t headline as of yet, right?  Openers don’t have to kick ass, they just need to warm the crowd up.

It’s also worth noting that with my appearances at the pro club in Saskatoon, I sold the room out on a couple of occasions.  People will come out to watch, maybe that’s what they are waiting for, me to get on a stage at a pro club instead of an open mic, maybe its legitimacy will give people a reason to come out.  With a bit of planning, I’d like it to be on a Friday night, the last Friday of the month when there is no church service, to get out folks from my church for an objective opinion on my Christian material.

Failure and being uncomfortable is just training for the next big moment.  I’ve found that in comedy there are those pockets of big moments, which I usually come about on my own, with nobody’s help.  Isn’t that strange, how some comics can get connections that land them on pro club shows, and I have to do the dirty work all by myself to get those same opportunities?  I guess it just means I’m humble enough not to take it for granted.  Plus it’s more satisfying to land those spots with my hard work.

If you aren’t uncomfortable, you’ll never grow.  Since a first date isn’t on the horizon for a bit, I might as well be uncomfortable on a comedy stage.  Look on the bright side.  At least if I get another first date at least I’ll be expertly equipped to deal with the awkward silence that a first date can bring.

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