Back in March of 2010 I had an experience that I’ll never forget, unless of course I unfortunately get Alzheimers later in life. I was a freshman at St. Cloud State University and I decided to participate in the talent show one Thursday evening. I had really been into watching stand up comedy and still am but one night in my dorm room it just clicked in my head and realized that I could do that, I could stand up on stage and make people laugh or at least get up on stage and make a fool out of myself. Either way, I was going to do it because after that realization it just nagged at me until I saw the flyer for the talent show giving me a venue to test the waters. I approached the talent show as I did most everything else in life and procrastinated until the day before when I finally stopped just watching stand up comedy and actually started writing it. The day of the show I realized that I should have spent more time preparing for my five minute set so I did what any dedicated comedian would do and decided to skip class that day to hone my act. I spent hours upon hour writing material and verbally rehearsing, using my disgusting hairbrush as a microphone.
When the time finally arrived for the talent show I was one of the last acts on the list so that did wonders for my anxious nerves but I sat in the back with my friends and tried to relax as I watched the rest of the “talented” people. There was only one other comedian on the set list that night and his act was horrible. He was an idiot who’s main focus was doing impressions of police officers, not like general stereotypes of police officers but specific impressions that might be funny only if you knew that specific officer. I had felt very nervous up until that point and it probably was pretty cocky of me but I knew that I would be funnier than that guy. When my name was finally announced I took the stage and by all appearances I was a hack. My choice of outfit was ridiculous so if I were to be judged just on what I was wearing I would definitely be considered hacky. Granted, this was my first time ever on stage as a comic but my nineteen year old mind thought it would be HILARIOUS to wear pajama pants and house shoes. Looking back I have no idea what I was thinking, but probably something along the lines of “wouldn’t it be super funny if it looked like I’d just woken up?” I had some great friends in St. Cloud but not intervening in my choice of clothing was definitely a failure on their part.
The majority of my set was spent discussing my childhood and growing up in Arkansas. I opened with a joke about how I’d wanted my girlfriend to come up and see me do stand up for the first time but I wasn’t sure how they felt about brothers and sisters dating, you know typical Arkansas stereotypes that the northerners seemed to love. I talked about how this was the first time I’d owned shoes. I really was an idiot but it was my first time and I’d like to think my material matured into something slightly more intelligent over time. It went extremely well and after that night I was hooked on the drug that is stand up comedy and for the next couple of years I performed as often as I could mostly at the comedy club in Little Rock.
After I moved from Arkansas to Florida four years ago I stopped performing stand up altogether due primarily to the fact that the place I lived didn’t have any open mic opportunities or comedy clubs. The closest comedy club had an open mic twice a month but required performers to bring ten people to the show all of whom were required to pay admission and buy at least two overpriced drinks from the club and I just wasn’t comfortable asking people I knew to drive two hours round trip and pay a pretty decent amount of money to watch me. Now that I’m living in Memphis there is ample opportunity for me to get back into stand up and I know I will do so at some point. Although I haven’t performed in nearly five years I have never stopped writing material so I have a lot of new jokes that have never been heard before and I’m excited to share them but I’ve also noticed that the nerves that disappeared after that first night have returned. What if I’m not funny anymore and my jokes are terrible? The only way to silence the insecurities are to get back up on stage and do what I love to do but it is taking more self convincing than I thought I’d need. I am making a promise to you and to myself that sometime during the month of October I will end my hiatus and get back up on stage and do an open mic and then I’ll give you all the details right here of how it either went well or it was so embarrassingly bad which I don’t hope for but would certainly be more fun to write about.