Convincing myself I’m not on fire and will not die.

In my attempt to send a blog out every week, some weeks are more than usually difficult not because I’m having a particularly hard time curbing my perfectionism, but because I have more to do than the time I have to do it in.

I take longer than the average person to do many many things:

  • writing a standard email
  • cooking dinner
  • cleaning my house
  • reading a book or an article
  • writing a blog post or even a longish Facebook post
  • resolving a problem

According to my partner, those things are also things I do better than most people. Why? Maybe it’s the upside of that perfectionism or my hyper-focus that drives my attention towards something until it absolutely satisfies me. This is where talent is really just rubber hitting the road. (Hint: is it talent or obsession?)

To be absolutely clear even with hours spent on a task, I make tons of mistake. Some mistakes people notice, and others people do not. This is most markedly true in performance. When I’m performing I know when things do not make magical music for me. It is impossible for them to at every moment and every time. But when things come together……ohhhhh it’s ecstatic. I’m just like that Natalie Portman character at the end of Black Swan, (SPOILER ALERT)  dying in a pool of my own blood and I don’t even care because it was perfect. EVERYTHING in the world of the show (for me at least) sang.

black-swan

What is amazing is that sometimes people have this experience without me. It’s a bit awkward letting people have the thrall when I’m not that into it with them. But this is my responsibility, because a show is its own thing, with its own life, and it’s not my job to keep people from enjoying it, foibles and all.

In about a week I am doing something I have never done before. I’m attempting to do some stand-up comedy. I have little preparation. I don’t know how to prepare for stand-up. I have words. Some of them are memorized. More like “bits.” I will use my notes. I’m asking no one to pay anything.

I think this is how you prepare for stand-up. There is a kind of flow through the material, a rhythm of known things and reactions, and eventually, if you do it enough times, there is a show.

But I don’t think this happens without lots and lots of practice in front of people with every single bit….and so far, it’s just me, laughing at my own jokes. Practicing story-telling.

Why am I doing this? Because here is the list of things I do well quickly:

  • improvise
  • connect
  • talk (“articulating elegantly” my partner says.)
  • make use of the awkward
  • judge for integrity
  • evaluate everything for future use

I think this might be the skill set I need to work, with an incredible unmet need of an audience in a context where I can flounce around with new material for a while.

I live in a small town. I’m not even trying to hide it away until it’s good. That’s a theatre game. I’m just doing it publicly. It’s totally ok for people to leave. (And I could be totally wrong about all this, but that’s something I get to learn.)

So why stand-up?

Because I want to explore comedy deeper. It fascinates me. This may be more an exploration of comedy for me than it is an exploration of the “bullied-minority” material…which is about what we think is so funny and why? woah….meta. Sorry…somethings just are. And I’m pretty sure no one in the history of the universe was funny talking about comedy. But I’m pretty sure there are many that effectively made fun of other people’s sense of humour (or lack thereof.)

Perhaps it’s simply this….I’m curious if there is anyone in the world who has the same twisted strange sense of humour that I do. It’s cruel really. It’s worse than all those bigoted trolls in a way. My comedic fruit is way up on a ladder and I’m asking people to climb on up there with me a teeter for it. And yet, I decided to do this a long time ago, for fun…casually….while I still have a good show to lean in to. ladder

So why do I feel like I’m on fire and am going to die?

Deep answer: because this is the necessary thing to feel when one is about to challenge oneself doing something that could be a complete failure (at first).

Simple answer: ….and that’s funny. you heard me. failure is hysterical.

And if that means I am committed to my death scene only to discover I’m fine with a deep level of ego bruising…at least that might be entertaining for people. We know it is. It’s a beautiful catch 22. Otherwise my material wouldn’t exist.

So in the end, failure and success are the same.

On fire or not, I am unlikely to die.

and hey look I did a blog post.

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