It all started back in October 2017, when my boss at The Second City told me about their one free class pass for staff members. I briefly mentioned I was interested in trying my hand in stand up. Less than 20 minutes later, I get an email saying I was signed up for Stand Up 101 for the following eight weeks.. All I could think about was, "Well...I can't back out now..." and "Think about how much money you're saving." After months of hitting up open mics and being in comedy shows, I can comfortably say that I am not a stand up comedian. BUT, I can say that I've blossomed into a new butterfly from all the things getting behind a mic has taught me...
Stand up helped me accept failure infinitely better.
We had a graduation show after the 8 week course where we got the chance to perform a 5 minute set at de Maat Theater at The Second City. To get practice, a group of us hit up open mics a few times a week leading up to the show. Imagine. It's a dim bar...usually around 10-30 people in their mid 20's to 30's...and there's a single mic in the spotlight...You have 5 minutes to make people laugh, or not. As a big people pleaser, my urge to make people laugh was strong. As someone whose always had stage fright, the desire to shrink back into my chair was paralyzing. As conflicting as it was and with the help of supporting friends, I got up to try some jokes at various bars. I loved the incredibly bittersweet process; the nervous energy before a set, the adrenaline in front of the mic, and the excitement at the end when you realized your own jokes made some people laugh.
The first time I bombed, when I only got a few chuckles, it honestly felt like I was hit with a tidal wave with embarrassment and failure. And I bombed a lot. Those feelings only lasted a few hours after a set, and the more I went to open mics, that time frame of humiliation only got smaller. Eventually, I used the whole open mic experience to help me practice my delivery, stage presence, and content creation. Being vulnerable and repeatedly "failing" in front of groups of strangers helped me "suck it up" and stop to enjoy the process in my personal life of struggles.
Doing stand up instilled more confidence in all aspects of my life.
The biggest pat on the back I gave myself was being able to just talk in front of large groups of people. I was always that one kid in class during a presentation, bending a paperclip behind my back, sweating beads of anxiety, and fumbling over my words. I fought a strong self confidence battle every time I got on stage, especially since I would tie my sets into embarrassing stories and personal tidbits. It wasn't so much the crowd's reaction that helped me get over my stage freight, but just the act of performing over and over again. It helped that the support system I had was overwhelming, and my desire to do better was invigorating.
I became less and less afraid of being 100% myself on and off stage. If I could talk openly about my UTIs and dating horror stories in front of 100 plus strangers, I couldn't imagine what this new stage confidence could bring. I've already started to embrace being authentically me everywhere I go: meeting new people, creating a more true social media presence, maintaining relationships, and even dating!
Trying stand up comedy opened endless doors of possibilities.
If you asked me a year ago whether or not I'd ever do stand up comedy, I'd laugh with a "Hell nah!" It was never something I thought I'd dedicate my time to, or something I'd even be good at. I know comedy is very subjective, and my humor is not everyone's cup of tea. The fact that I was even asked to be in some shows, blew my mind. Now, I've slowly fizzled out of doing stand up comedy since I've become more interested in producing comedy shows, which I never would've discovered if I didn't say yes to trying stand up comedy!!
Saying yes gave me the courage to face multiple fears and has opened so many doors. Since then, I've tried my hand at improv, hip hop dance, and producing shows. Instead of saying "I won't be good at it," I approach new activities with a new mentality of "Let's try it. Why the fuck not."