I’m no longer completely petrified when I go on stage.
I’ve done it a good number of times now (I’m not sure exactly how many, though it is still a small enough number that I could probably count them if I needed to), so I know what the stage(s) feel like under my feet, I know what the mic feels and sounds like, I know where to stand, and I almost know where to look.
Raw helped of course, because it has allowed me to believe that getting up in front of people and promising to make them laugh is a valid thing for me to do.
It’s a bit chicken and egg, I suppose, but that confidence is allowing me to gain control of my performance (which in turn gives me more confidence and so it spirals on, or so I hope). I have a few solid jokes which I know will work – like Dr Phil says ‘the greatest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour’ – plus, I’m starting to understand why they will work. I have learnt to take my breath at exactly the right time, I have changed the word that I – and therefore the audience – always stumbled on, I have found a better order of putting things in.
This also means that I know the potential flat spots in my script. I know the jokes (I think we call them gags, but like I’ve said before, I’m not too good with the language of it yet) which sometimes work and sometimes don’t. In some cases, I’ve even made a decision to leave in a joke even though I know it isn’t quite funny yet. That might be because I haven’t got enough material if I take out all the stuff that isn’t quite funny yet. It might be because I know it will be funny, but I have to work out how. Or it might be because I need it as the setup to a later joke. In any case, I am starting to understand how to get the audience back, and I’ve started to develop a stock of material I can use to do that.
I’m also surprisingly comfortable with the idea that not everyone is going to find a middle aged librarian funny (and not that I’m saying I’m middle aged or that is something to be concerned about, just that is how my character would be perceived – you know, in comparison, plus I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who wishes her bar tab included a nice cup of tea). This could become my ruminations on the ‘women aren’t funny, all they talk about is periods and kids’ debate, and one day I suppose I will write about that, but not right now. All I mean is that I don’t expect that everyone will find me funny. This is because not all comedians can be funny to all people. And that’s why the same universe has been able to give us both Woody Allen and Benny Hill. I think – thought my thoughts on this are still developing – that there are some people with a more universal comedic appeal. Dylan Moran, for example, or Ben Elton.
But now, as I write, I have started to think differently to what I thought I thought. See just up there where I wrote ‘I’m also surprising comfortable…’? Between there and here I have started to think differently…or at least to ask myself a different set of questions. Is being ‘surprisingly comfortable’ being rational, realistic and mature about me and my likely audience? Or is that just being complacent and not trying hard enough?
I’ll have to get back to you on that after all. But it won’t be until after we’ve been out to T-Chow for tea and I’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy.