A few days ago I tried something new. Got outside my “comfort zone” and invited friends to a standup show I was performing in. I don’t usually invite people to come see me do standup because, honestly it’s terrifying. I’m afraid people will think I’m not funny or that my pants are too tight. But I blasted it on Facebook and social media anyway. And you know what? No one came. None of my friends came. So I did my standup set for the 5 people who were there, and the other comedians in the show. Now I know what you’re thinking, you killed it anyway, right Heather?
I bombed. Big time. For the first time ever I couldn’t wait to get off stage. I cut my set short because I kept thinking, these people hate me. I’m not funny. What am I doing up here?? In other words, complete and total panic bomb. It’s not like me to have such an epic moment of insecurity. I am basically a superstar! I blame my mom for the ridiculous amount of self-confidence she instilled in me. Now here I am at almost 30 (ahem) trying to push myself to test my skills in another area of my field, and I’m terrible at it. All my life people have told me that I should “do standup.” And all my life I’ve resisted the idea because I’ve seen it done well and knew I could never be that great. Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Griffin, Sarah Silverman, Bette Midler, and the Queen, Roseanne Bar. Those are legendary comedians. I tell jokes about parenting and NWA. Funny? Yes. But not legendary. So it begs the question, if I can’t do it well why do it at all? Should I just stop now and focus my efforts on other things?
Driving home I started thinking about those poor people who had to watch me tell jokes. They gave a pity chuckle here and there, but they could tell I was sliding downhill faster than a greased ass. I kept wondering why this show wasn’t going well when other shows have been pretty good. Was it because my friends didn’t come? I don’t think so. I’ve had improv shows before where no one came and I was amazing. But standup feels more intimate somehow. You’re not playing a character, or doing space work (eye roll). You’re putting yourself, or a version of yourself, out there to be judged. That’s it! I was basically saying here I am, judge me! Good Lord just thinking about it now gives me the flop sweats. I can see how so many comedians have substance abuse problems. It’s gut-wrenching to go through that and I just wanted to slug some wine or do a line of coke to make the embarrassment stop. I can’t imagine bombing on a regular basis. Gah! I’ve never tried coke before but if I did this seemed like a good time to start. Major props to the comedians who do this night after night, bomb or smash and keep going. I envy you.
I was telling Chris about it when I got home and as usual he brought me back from the brink. I love that about him. He reminded me that this is a new muscle for me. Like improv, sketch and podcasting, standup is something I just have to keep doing to get good at it. I’m an old dog trying new tricks and it’s going to be challenging. (Chris wants me to tell you he did not call me an old dog). I realized that as terrifying as it is to think about getting back up on that stage and baring my jokes for all to hear, I have to try again. I can’t let one bad show ruin something I’ve been enjoying so much. It’s hard but it feels good. Like it’s something I should have been doing for years. I’m going to bomb again, I know it. It’s all part of the growing and learning experience and I’ll be damned if I quit now. Maybe in a year from now, but not now. All that’s left to decide is whether I want to invite my friends to see me along the way, or wait until I’ve reached Roseanne status to share my comedy gold.