Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stage fright, you're my bitch

As I've mentioned before, my stage fright is pretty much under control and I've finally reached the point where I actually have fun doing stand-up.  Yay--after all, hobbies are meant to be enjoyed, right?

I had a ball Thursday night at the open mic at Savannah's in downtown Albany.  It was almost going to suck--I got there just a few minutes after the sign-up time and all the slots were already filled.  Fortunately, Russ, the guy running the stage, recognized me from other stages in town and let me close the show.  If I bumped any other comics, thank you for giving up your time.

A ton of people came to see me, so it's good that I was able to perform.  But as I was standing there watching the other comics, a bit of my old pal stage fright resurfaced.  At one point during the show, Russ said something like, "We have a very special guest performing" and I was like, yikes, don't build me up too much--I don't want to disappoint everybody. 

But the root cause of my anxiety was the fact that there were so many people I know in the audience.  My son, my first ex and a bunch of his friends, my roommate from college and some other Plattsburgh State friends, my sister Lori's biker buddies... It's much easier to perform to a room full of strangers than people you actually know, especially those who've known you for years.  And especially because--I've told you this before--so many people, when they learn I've been doing stand-up, say, "Gee, I never remember you as being that funny."  It's one thing to move to the other side of the country and reinvent yourself, but quite another to present the "new you" in a place you lived for the first 43 years of your life.

The nature of performing--no matter what kind of performing you do--is that sometimes you're just gonna have an off night.  You can't hit it out of the park every time at bat, you just can't.  With 18 people in the audience who came explicitly to see me, I wanted to do well; that's why the stage fright resurfaced.  But as I stood in the back of the room waiting for my turn to go up, I silently chanted my new mantra, "Stage fright, you're my bitch."

I hit it out of the park.  Russ was kind enough to give me a great intro and I flew with it from there.  Coming off stage to everyone's accolades, especially from the folks I didn't know, was a real high.  I sold a bunch of books, too, which was great. It turned out to be a really fun night and I was glad to be the impetus for a gathering of so many people, some of whom hadn't seen each other in years.

Lori's biker friend Mick and me
The lesson here is that you just have to plow through the fear, people.  It's taken me long enough to realize that, and it's much more easily said than done, but it's true.  Make fear your bitch.

This is funny.  You know how I telecommute from Las Vegas, but work in the office when I'm back in Albany?  Well, Thursday afternoon I was reviewing my set list in my cubicle and then after work met my friends for a drink.  I was a bit unnerved when I arrived at the pub because I was afraid I'd lost my set list somewhere in the office.  I thought I forgot it on my desk, but when I went back for it, it was gone.  I imagined someone coming across a crumpled piece of paper with a list that reads

1.  Breasts
2.  Fart shirt
3.  Dating
4.  Periods
5.  Blow jobs

... as well as the supporting details.  We all had a great laugh about it--hell, my contract is over at the end of the month anyway--but fortunately, I did, in fact, put the list in a separate compartment in my pocketbook. (As you can see, my humor is extremely highbrow.)

Anyway, I have just two nights left in Albany and then I fly back to Vegas on Monday.  It's been a great trip and yesterday the sun finally came out, so that was nice, too.  Hope you're all enjoying your weekend!


Josie said...

Wow, if that's your set list I have to see you perform. Hilarious!

Tender Heart Bear said...

I am glad you are having fun with your stand up. It is hard to get over stage fright. Just keep having fun and that will all pass.

Fragrant Liar said...

Sounds like you're doing GREAT! So glad to see that. I'm talking about fear over on my blog too. Different way of performing though...

Good to hear you're doing so well making stage fright your bitch.

raydenzel1 said...

Forget about watching you, I want to date you! lol

Vegas Linda Lou said...

HA! You're funny, Ray.

Josie, it's nothing to be proud of, that's for sure!

Debbie said...

Linda ... I SO RESPECT YOU. I think you're brave and hilarious and smart. Really and truly and I wish, really wish I have half the balls you have to get up on a stage and make people laugh. You're a gem!


Coming to Vegas 9/23 ... gimme a ringy dingy (562-756-5466) ... we must have a drink together and I've told my friends all about you!!!