Everybody around me is laughing, but my heart is racing. My friend is finishing up his stand-up routine. I know I’m next. This is it. Do or die. Make ‘em laugh or make it awkward as fuck. Maybe nobody will notice if I just die of shame right there.
My palms have been sweating for days, it seems. I’ve practiced. I’ve written down the jokes. I think I know them.
Cheap vodka is swimming through my veins, but I’m okay… “okay.” Not drunk, anyway. I can do this. Maybe.
At least I know I won’t be the worst. The old weird guy who joked about sucking on a bacon-flavored boob… yeah. He was bad. So I’ve got that going for me.
The applause surprises me. I know too many people here… if I fail… my failure will reach far and wide. I stammer a bit with the first joke… it doesn’t do great. That’s okay. It isn’t my best joke. I have no segue, which I joke about. And they laugh.
Next, the shower joke. It’s a pretty good one. For me, anyway.
“When it gets really cold… it gets harder and harder to talk yourself out of the shower. And when it’s really bad, I start having thoughts like… man… I could start a new life in here. Like that documentary. The Little Mermaid.”
They laugh. Relief washes over me.
Nerves still tangle me up. But I’m onto the next joke. My handy little index card nearby, reminding me of the flow. Maybe I’ll skip over the one about eating disorders.
I joke about doing laundry and driving cars and Netflix. Most of the jokes hit. One misses badly. I quip back, “Sorry, too weird? Cool.” They laugh at that. Surprisingly.
A moment later it’s all over and the applause is back and I am elated. I am on fire with satisfaction. All the days of nervous practice and stammering over my jokes and working on timing has paid off.
For a few moments there, I was pretty amusing.
A Strange, Funny Interaction
Stand up is such a strange phenomenon. It’s not like being funny organically, during a conversation with friends.
You’re up there, alone. And you’re telling a room full of people you may or may not know that you can make them laugh. On demand.
That’s fuckin’ weird. And a little arrogant, honestly.
You write down a joke. It seems funny. You practice it. You say it out loud. About a thousand times. Is it still funny? Not anymore, it used to be. Now? Who the fuck knows.
So you just keep workin’ on it and hope that whatever that original feeling was was funny. You can practice in front of people, too. But that’s awkward as fuck. I prefer to practice in the car, alone, so most people just think I’m a rambling psychopath.
Everyone Thinks They’re Funny
The amount of people who think they’d be good at stand-up is pretty amazing. Some of them baffle me. People who I am not amused by at all.
Then again, my own sense of humor can be pretty twisted, too. So who am I to judge.
Indeed, humor is all relative. What one person finds hilarious another person realizes is Two and a Half Men and seriously, what sort of brain disease leads to that show being found funny?
I don’t know what I don’t want to know.
So now what… ?
Well it only took 2-3 years of writing down jokes to produce five minutes of stand up material, so I assume I’ll be ready with another five minutes of material any day now.
Okay, not really. But still. Now that I know it can be done, I am more likely to make the effort to write things down and really work on the jokes. So that’s… something.
Maybe this is the beginning of a long and mediocre career of stand up performances. Maybe I’ll just stay on the couch and play some more Diablo. It’s hard to know for sure.
But it’s one thing scratched off my bucket list. And I can’t say how surreal and awesome it feels to confront your fears and just grab ‘em by the balls and say, fuck it man, I’ll fail spectacularly if I have to.
It’s a great feeling.
Oh, and if you’re curious, here’s the audio:
Video is below, but be warned, the audio on it is pretty crap: