I’ve long thought that at some point in my life, I should find a way to get up on stage and attempt stand up comedy. Not because I consider myself particularly funny, but just that it seems to be this odd form of vulnerability that you can’t quite find anywhere else.
I’ve done plenty of performing over the years, things like singing, plays, and I even have a fair number of improvisational theatre bouts under my belt, all things which, in some way, share some similarities with the concept of stand up, but still don’t quite have the full effect, in my opinion.
Not only is stand up just you, alone on a stage, but you don’t have anything backing you up. The closest thing I might consider to this would be to sing a solo, but so often you have some sort of backing track to join you. And even if you were to choose to sing acapella, you’d still probably be singing a song people have heard before. And even if you were to choose to sing a song you’ve written, you’d still have the ability for people to recognize the beauty of your voice, even if the song itself sucks. It feels like there’s so many things there that could really help you not feel quite as vulnerable as doing stand up.
Because when you do stand up, it’s all on you. You can’t hide behind your natural talents as much. Not only do you have to write something funny and engaging, but you also have to get the timing right in order for it to actually land with the audience.
Which means, when you get up on that stage, it really is just you, on full display, for the world to see.
While I write this, however, and even having said just a second ago how I don’t think anything in my history can compare, I do have one moment in my experience on stage which feels similar, and its during those improvisational shows I do, such as the murder mystery I have coming up at the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre. There a often a point in this type of show where the audience gets to ask the suspects any question they might want. And the idea is that your response should be somewhat funny.
I’m really bad at this part of the gig. Because it feels like at that exact moment, I’m supposed to come up with some witty joke on the spot which not only is in character, but also answers the question, while also being at least somewhat amusing. I’m even tempted to proclaim this as being worse than being a standup comic, but the truth is, your answers are supposed to be short, there’s already a whole set up for the moment going on which allows the audience to already be ready to have a good time, and really, you could simply just make up some nonsensical answer that vaguely references someone’s penis, and you’ll get the laughs.
Yet, this is where I often choke. I stumble for an idea, hoping for a way to connect it to the few jokes I’ve already prepared for the event, knowing that I just don’t have it in me, when I’ve been suddenly thrown to the wolves in hopes for an easy laugh.
And this, my friends, is where I’m at today. Working on coming up with some stock jokes I can throw out in response to the endless options of questions that could be asked me at the moment we get into the Q&A. Knowing that I’m just not quite there yet.
And also wondering if I’ll even be able to remember any of them when the time comes, instead of simply yelling out at the crowd about some nonsense that I can’t even be clever enough right now to make an amusing example.
So, maybe this is slightly worse. At least with standup, you get to prepare all of your jokes beforehand.