My 'Second' First Gig
On the 'gigs' page of this website there's a photo of my silhouette on stage. It's from my first stand up performance. Or to put it another way, it's from my 'second' first stand up performance. Let me explain.
I started 2011 with a new years resolution: to do stand up. I met that resolution at the bare minimum standard - I went on stage once, for five minutes, in the third week of December, days before all the open mic nights shut down for Xmas and thus the year. How did I do? I smashed it.
And by "I smashed it," I mean, I died horribly on my arse. I'd been advised by a circuit comedian to play with the audiences perception of me. She told me I looked like I worked in media, which was handy, because I did. So I rewrote all my planned material and tried it. Me, on stage, talking about my job working in television production. And it. Was. Horrendous.
I came across like a media tosser showing off about his cool job. Lesson learnt. The experience was so horrific I didn't go on stage for another eleven months. The second gig was marginally better, and my material better chosen, but I found the nerves paralysing. At both gigs I got so nervous I'd question everything I'd written and by the time I got on stage I'd have no confidence left in anything. Although I was getting more laughs the second time, I forgot my act and had to walk off stage. The MC encouraged me to go back on, as did the crowd, but I refused. My friend Benn said this was the right call, as I would only have been getting "pity laughs" at that point.
Five years later, FIVE I decided to do Hoopla's stand up course, which culminated in what I now call my 'second first gig,' as my stand up virginity had effectively grown back, and was the start of my second, more serious attempt at doing stand up. It went a lot better, and I vowed to do at least a gig a week after that so as not to fall off the wagon again. There's no comic denouement here, just my tale of how stand up can be so pant-shittingly scary when you start that you might need to start it twice.