My Stand-Up Comedy Debut
As you know, one of my goals for this year is to learn 12 new things. One of the things I’ve wanted to learn for a very, very, very long time is stand-up comedy. I met a woman who teaches stand-up comedy when we were both on the board of the Arts Council of New West and I thought “That would be so cool to do!” And then a bajillion years went by with me saying “I’m too busy to do that class”. Then a pandemic happened and I said “I don’t want to do comedy on Zoom. I want to do it live in a comedy club”. Then the classes went back to live and I kept saying “I’m too busy to do that class.” Then one day earlier this year, I realized that I am never not going to be too busy, so I made a commitment to myself that the next time the course was offered and I was actually not out of town, I would do the course. And when the course dates went up for September, I was available and I signed up.
Now, I have this thing that I’ve noticed that any time I find myself freaking out about a decision I’ve made, like there’s a knot in the pit of my stomach and I think “Oh my god, what have I done??!! I can’t do this! It’s going to be too hard!”, it’s turned out to be a great decision. Doing a PhD, playing in a hockey game for 10 days straight, doing an MBA, adopting my cats. So now when I find myself feeling that way, I know that I’m on to something and I just need to feel the fear and do it anyway. There’s no growth that comes from sitting still, doing only what is comfortable and safe. Doing a comedy class was one of these times.
I knew that comedy would be work, but I vastly underestimated how much and how hard the work would be. I spent countless hours writing jokes (and writing piles of garbage that would never become jokes until I found the few funny things that I could work and rework and rework until they were jokes that would be worth going into my act). Every week we had to write 10 jokes + 2 current event jokes and then do another activity that we would use in class to generate ideas, and then in class, we’d go up on stage and test our stuff out. And get feedback from the instructor and our classmates, and then we reworked jokes that had potential and tested out new things. And by the end of the 5 weeks., we each had a 5 minute act that we performed at a showcase on Friday, October 13 in front of a live, paying audience1!
One thing that really helped me in this course is that I’m a good student. The instructor told us to read a book, so I read the book and did a bunch of the exercises from the book before the class started. The instructor gave us instructions and I followed what she said. I put my faith in her instructions and I decided to trust the process even when it seemed like it couldn’t be possible that a decent 5 minute act would emerge from the pile of hot garbage that I was writing. Trust the process. I’m a complete newbie at this and the instructor has done this for 20 years. I’m going to trust that she has a good process.
As with many things in my life (see: hockey, cats), I’ve become a bit obsessed with stand-up comedy. I mean, in addition to the book the instructor recommended, I’m now reading another book on stand up comedy that my friend Monica, who is a stand-up comedian, recommended. I’m constantly writing down ideas for new jokes and I talking to anyone who will listen about comedy. One thing I haven’t done yet, but will do, is start performing at open mics. A bunch of my classmates and I have a WhatsApp group to stay connected, go to open mics together, work on writing and workshopping ideas together, and a few of them have done a bunch of open mics. I haven’t yet because I got so behind on all my paid side hustles (i.e., teaching) and volunteering while I was doing the class (it was an intense and all consuming 5 weeks), I needed to dedicate some time to those things to catch up, and haven’t had time to do the writing and working and reworking that is required to have actual jokes to tell at an open mic. Right now I’m trying to figure out a good balance where I can dedicate time to comedy writing without completely forgoing my other responsibilities (If anyone has any ideas on how to solve that, please let me know!)).
At any rate, my showcase was a blast and I’m actually really proud of it when I watch it – and it makes me want to get up on stage again soon.
Here is it for your viewing pleasure:
And if you want to see the rest of my class, you can view them on YouTube (just look for the ones from Oct 13, 2023).
- Who were all friends of someone in the class and were a great audience to perform for. [↩]