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So What's It Like?
So what's it like in the run up to your first stand-
The open spot booking that you phoned up so confidently about two months ago is beginning to stir in your consciousness. It suddenly pops into your mind while driving, eating or watching TV. You wonder if it's time you started learning your material. You decide not to over-
The nightmares have started. All those cracking gags sprinkled liberally around several sheets of A4 paper seem to have dissolved into thin air. You seem to have mastered the art of the punch-
3 days before
Nothing is funny. Humour does not exist. Every gag you mouth to yourself in the shower or on the way to your day job is so painfully obvious that you begin to feel an almost constant warm flush of embarrassment at the thought, the brazen impertinence of your fading belief that you could ever make anyone laugh -
Your bowels are sending you a clear message -
You are now beyond fear. You are in a safe place where no one can harm you. All you have to do is stand up, recite your miserable lines and leave. Try as you might, you cannot for the life of you recall why you wanted to do stand up in the first place. You have your topics biro-
A measure of relief sets in, as you tell yourself there are only 24 hours of torture left. You seem to know your lines now, even if the mechanical manner in which you deliver them leaves something to be desired. You try to inject some expression into your voice by raising the pitch of every third word. Your Dictaphone faithfully plays back your Swiss-
You awake with a scream in a cold sweat and sit bolt upright in bed as you realise you've completely overlooked a vital aspect of your act -
Long before the alarm clock rings, you are wide awake. Over and over you grimly whisper your act. You spend 50 minutes in the shower using the showerhead as a microphone to go over your act several times. Finally you exit the bathroom, your prune-
You had decided to eat a high-
As the dread moment draws near, a strange light-
You don't quite know how you got to the club. You smile wanly at the club manager and get introduced to the compere. He grimaces at you briefly as if he is trying to work out what you're doing there. You mumble your name as he walks away. Perhaps it's best if he doesn't get your name right. You head for the bar, hoping a drink or six will loosen you up.
Start of the show
The punters are in now, seeming to be in good spirits. Of course they think they're going to get quality acts all night. The compere kicks off the night with some excellent openers. The good-
Hey the first act was good! Bloody good! The audience loved him! They laughed like drains, even when he wasn't saying anything. Why did he have to be so good?
10 minutes to go -
Bowels now opening and shutting so fast it sounds like the clapping you know you'll never get. Lucky you brought moist toilet tissue with you -
Now it's waterworks time -
There's a marching band bass drum where your heart is supposed to be. You wait for the compere to say your name, hoping you'll recognise it. For one insane moment, you are convinced he's forgotten all about you. Then you hear...
The moment of truth
...your name, and you walk briskly onto the stage.
A sea of faces greets you through the harshly blinding stage lights. Eager, expectant faces. You fumble with the microphone, liberating it from the icy grip of the stand. An infinite silence later you manage to voice your opener, the words shoot out automatically as you force yourself to meet their eyes and smile. A few smiles break out. You can feel the sweat drip out from under your arms.
You carry on with your next gag. More smiles. They're not laughing much, but they are listening. You start to relax a fraction. An unexpected guffaw from a man in the front row throws you slightly. You launch into your favourite gag. The muted reaction tells you its too early for Diana gags. Guffaw-
The light is flashing -
1 second after
Your legs are in fact made of wobbly jelly, and your face resembles a beetroot. The adrenaline is still pumping and you could actually run a mile in 2 minutes. Instead you head for the bar, not quite sure whether to make eye contact with people you brush past or not. They seem to smile at you, but it could so easily be a grimace.
Back in the toilets
Still shaking, you grin at yourself in the loo mirror. You got some laughs, you got through it, and it's over -
Of course, it would be so much easier if you first went on a workshop