In Pursuit of Standup

Photo courtesy of the author

I did standup comedy twice this past week in New York City, at Stand Up NY and West Side Comedy Club.

The first set I didn’t feel landed with the audience. I got one laugh and one “Woo!” As I drove home feeling dejected, I ate three vegan double chocolate chip cookies to soothe myself.

At my second set, with all new material, I got the multiple laughs I was looking for. As I drove home feeling elated, I ate three vegan double chocolate chip cookies to celebrate.

I get the impression that the rest of the world is preoccupied with the thought, “When’s the soonest I can get laid?”

For me, it’s, “When’s the soonest I can get my hands on some cookies?”

Other people are using apps to locate the closest available sexual partner.

Meanwhile, I’m Googling, “Cookies near me.”

This massive difference in interests is apparent when I hear other comics taking the stage to talk about raunchy sex, drinking, doing cocaine. Adult topics. I’m like, “I’m not old enough to hear this! Where my nerds at?” I need to find my target audience so that I can share the kinds of dorky thoughts I have, such as:

Why does Dr. Jekyll lose his doctorate when he becomes his alter ego Mr. Hyde? It’s like those seven years of medical school never happened. Your alter ego should be better than what you actually are, not worse. How sad is this guy that he transitions and is like, “I have no credentials.”

And this:

When I was a kid, my mom accidentally sat on my hamster. I worried that he would get amnesia after having his head compressed. When I put him back in his cage, he got right up on his wheel, and I felt so relieved. “Thank God – my little guy is fine! He’s back to his regular routine!” What I didn’t know was that in his tiny hamster mind he was thinking, “Where does this road go? I don’t even know where I’m off to in such a hurry!”

Likewise, I don’t know where I’m going with this new standup obsession. It’s something I’d always wanted to try. I’ll settle for it being my latest hobby. I’m under no illusion that this will become a career. So far it has cost me to get onstage (a two-drink minimum per person for a non-drinker means I’m having an $18 cup of Coke).

Here’s my imagined interview for this job:

Interviewer: “So, why do you want to be a comedian?”

Me: “The hours really appeal to me. Getting to sleep all day, just working from like 9:00 to 10:00 PM. I’m already a night owl so it just makes sense, you know?”

Interviewer: “What about your material? Shouldn’t you be working on that during the day?”

Me: “Oh…that’ll just come to me. Yeah! That’ll just come to me.”

Interviewer: “What do you enjoy doing the least in a job?”

Me: “That’d be public speaking, for sure. Getting up on stage in front of a bunch of strangers and giving a presentation?” (Shudder).

Seriously, I have terrible stage fright. Once, Jerry Seinfeld said that fear of public speaking ranks higher than that of death for some people. I was like, “Sounds right to me!”

There’s only one person up there to judge me. Meanwhile, there’s fifty down here!

I wish I could impart some wisdom as to how I overcame this fear. Or explain why on earth I decided to do something in the first place that is the hardest type of public speaking there is. All I know is, I can’t deny the urge to do standup. I just forced myself to get on up there and let the overly bright stage lights blind me into pretending there was nobody out there. If I hear a laugh, great! But if I don’t, it’s just because I’m talking to an empty room.