On With The Show This Is It
Getting up on stage and performing for people isn’t easy. You’ve got to get past yourself and realize that you are to entertain and be there for other people. Other people consisting of the audience who have paid money to see you, and other people consisting of your fellow performers. It’s all at once, and it’s like lightning. Suitably enough, Arizona has more lightning strikes than anywhere else on Earth. Because that’s something, right?
When I get on-stage with my fellow comedians on a Saturday night at the Soleil Lounge inside the Glendale Renaissance Hotel (no GPS coordinates to further explain the location of the place I’m referring to, Magellan!), all inhibitions have to be left backstage. Forget who (of whom?, I dunno) you’re struggling to maintain a relationship with at the moment, don’t worry about your dayjob, leave the pains of anything that may be disconcerting anywhere else. If you bring those up with you, the audience will cut through you in the form of silence and booing. And that shit doesn’t feel good, to say the least.
In the two-months-or-so that I’ve been up on stage in front of people with the intention of making them laugh, there has been a healthy slice of comeuppance dealt my way. It comes in a few forms, of which I’m still trying to figure out all of them in the goal of never seeing them again. There’s a science and a pragmatist attitude that can be utilized in order to squash out an displeased crowd, and I’m in the lab figuring shit out right now. No one has it completely figured out. I concede that most performers go their whole lives never figuring it out, much to the chagrin of their 2-drink-minimum patrons. But it’s really fun to try to figure out. I’ve got some test tubes and some figurative Bromothymol Blue.
Whereas doing a few shows of improv comedy was the goal, Dave Thurston also has his performers round themselves out in doing stand-up comedy and sketch comedy too. In his devious-yet-amazing programmed scheme, there are six modules evenly divided into a beginning and advanced section for the three respective fields of laugh-making. Once these are completed, I’ll be doing all three on-stage with regularity as a repertory performer. That being said, I’ve already made into the fold of being that level of performer. Didn’t expect it at all, but you just can’t screw the pooch of such a good opportunity, you know? And hopefully, you don’t actually screw pooches anyways, because gross.
It was this past Sunday, May 18, and we’re all at Iguana Mack’s in Chandler, our regular venue for Sunday night gigs. So the crowd isn’t exactly very large, and it’s going to be a more intimate show. Totally fine, by the way, you can’t get all the asses in all the seats all the time. In doing an intimate show like this, you play to the back of the room instead of to the audience (it’s creepy, otherwise, flipping and flopping up there doing made-up comedy). So a couple stand-ups go up and do their 5-10 minutes like normal, and they crush it hard. Our small audience is loving it. Dave’s on the other side of the room we play in, and he blurts out, “Drew, do ya want to do Colors of Arizona?” I’m flummoxed for about three seconds, and jump out of my chair. not thinking. Inside of two more seconds, I’m up in front of the crowd, by myself. I’m about to break my stand-up hymen.
Colors of Arizona is a bit I wrote about various aspects of our visually-palatable spectrum that represent this state. I wrote it about a week ago, and had only rehearsed it in front of a mirror like an insane person. It’s about eight minutes for time, but I get through it in five at Iguana Mack’s. Because I’m nervous as all get-out and talking very fast is a natural byproduct of being flung in front of the spotlight. But I do it. I get a few laughs. Real laughs! Few things are this tasty, in all truth. I still have no idea what I’m doing, but that was a good first step.
So that happened, and I’m planning to go up there again real soon. With advanced notice, too. Mental and physical preparation seems to be a large component to doing this. This whole thing about making people laugh.