My Stand Up Comedy Journey Experience Up Until Now: So Far
I will never do impressions. They are not part of my particular journey experience.
I guess I've wanted to try stand up for a long time, and I did, once, in 2007, to a room of people I mostly knew, but I assumed the actual comedy world was far too scary. A couple of years ago I went to Raw Comedy to see a friend perform and just standing in the bar area with nervous comedians felt terrifying. This year I went again to check it out and while there were plenty of good acts, there were enough that were of ‘encouraging’ quality that I thought maybe this is not impossible. To be honest, my advanced nihilism had also boosted my confidence a little. Whatever doesn’t kill me now only delays my death.
I stalked some of the acts I liked on twitter and tried to get a sense of what the Sydney comedy scene was like by following local rooms and comedians.
I had no idea there were so many comedy rooms in Sydney. I'd tried to find comedy before when looking for something to do on the weekend and came up mostly empty. But there is comedy on every night in Sydney. There are at least five venues just in Glebe.
So there's a scene. And comics know a lot of other comics because they're going to these venues a lot, and the audiences are comics plus a couple of friends of the comics if they're new at it. (After you've done it a few times your friends have seen your act but you keep going.) If the venue is doing well there'll be some other randoms as well.
A lot of up-and-coming comics are very supportive of each other and of comedy in general, so comic-filled audiences are not such a bad thing. I assumed most comics would be horrible people, but it's really only 30% horrible people. The rest are pretty great. I’m sure there's plenty of jealousies and rivalries—this whole thing is ego-driven—but there's also lots of people trying to help each other improve and get ahead.
First Mug and Kettle
So I gave it a go. I came across Mug and Kettle on twitter (@MugKettleComedy), a new open mic night that was starting up, and I thought a brand new room would be a good place to start. I collected a couple of jokes I'd thought of over the past year, padded them out, and got five minutes together. And it went pretty well, man, thanks for asking. I got laughs, one of my friends had an asthma attack, one cried, and my terror was roughly compensated for by the Good Comedy Feelings.
In the following weeks I went back a number of times, doing whatever schtick I could come up with in the week beforehand, which is a pretty fun hobby. The second week was the hardest. The first week I had a bunch of friends come along, a packed room, and jokes I’d had a year to think of. The second week I had no friends, smaller crowd, and scrappy leftover jokes from the week before. It was a come-down, but an expected one so it felt ok. The third week was a little easier but I ended up feeling really vulnerable afterwards, and like I needed a break, so I took a week off. The fourth and fifth time it started to feel like part of who I am and the nerves started disappearing.
Last Friday night Mug and Kettle held a showcase where they invited ten comics they liked from the first ten weeks of open mic to perform a longer set with a cover charge. Probably because it was the first time I'd been asked to perform somewhere, I was terrified again. Apparently it showed. But it was fun, and the rest of the night was incredible. Comics I'd seen a number of times were better than I'd ever seen them and got a great response.
I feel old. Most comics starting out are young and I haven't met any so far who have kids. I definitely wish I'd started earlier and was able to get out there a couple of nights a week. But meeting people, writing and performing is ticking my good feels boxes.
So do it
Don't be like me. Have a go immediately, stop wasting time. You won't be the worst performer on any given night, I guarantee it. There are terrible, terrible people doing this. 50% of the laughs at Mug and Kettle are in response to comedians pointing out that their joke didn't work. Have a go.