Hobbies are something you’re supposed to enjoy, right? Well, I’ve had a hobby on and off for the past 5 years that's been nothing but a neck-blotching source of stress: performing stand-up comedy.
I have terrible stage fright, but only when it comes to comedy. Being in front of people doesn’t bother me in the least; I’ve done a ton of public speaking in my writing circles, and my resume details years of my experience as a corporate trainer. So it’s not like I’m worried about people noticing my crappy hair or making mental comments on my age-inappropriate outfit. I couldn’t care less about those things.
Of course, I interject a lot of humor while I’m training, but my real purpose is to instruct; I need to get people from A to B so they can better understand something or improve their job performance. With stand-up, however, the only reason I’m in front of people is to make them laugh. And that’s what scares the shit out of me. Understandably, right?
Well. last night I did a set at the Royal Resort here in Las Vegas and for the first time, I actually enjoyed performing. I wish I could identify the specific variable that made me lose my stage fright, but there have been many other times when I knew I had good material and felt confident about my appearance as well as other factors and I still approached the stage with a sense of dread.
All I can say is that last night was different, and because my nerves were under control, I did my best set ever. Keeping your nerves in check is the key to a good performance; I know this from the acting classes I took 30 years ago. And I also know a variety of strategies on how to reduce performance anxiety (meditation, visualization, etc.), but I can’t say they’ve actually helped me.
So whatever the reason, I’m hoping that after 5 years I’ve finally turned the corner. It’s hard to believe, but I’m actually looking forward to getting up there again next week! Wish me luck, and if you can, come out to see the show (9 p.m. at the Royal Resort on Convention Center Drive, just east of the Strip).
P.S. How about you? Any wisdom to share about overcoming stage fright?