The Crowd Feedback
I still remember the first time I jumped up on stage in any form of professional capacity. I was sweating bullets, even though it was only a local crowd of about a hundred or so people. I had this image in my head that nailing my routine here would lead my straight to the doors of the biggest venues in the world, my own sitcom, or at least a semi popular blog page, wink wink. Sadly I was not fated for that kind of performance, in fact, I was fated to bomb again. Apparently my brain thought we were doing a routine where I messed up every joke, and ran with it. The crowd, thankfully was gracious enough and didn’t start lobbing bottles in my direction, but it caused some serious second thoughts.
Not as to whether or not I should continue, but whether or not I was good enough at writing jokes. I have a knack for delivery, and I blame my mom’s sharp wit for honing my sense of timing, but some of the joke execution wasn’t there that night. It wasn’t until some serious reflection though that I realized that I just wasn’t ready for a professional spot. I was an awkward barely twenty year old who was trying to make it on the same stage as people who spent years working on their craft and paying their dues, and my incessant selfishness was expecting the same level of success on my first appearance.
I dropped back down to a rank amateur standing, and performed at local open mics for the next three years, working my routine, getting it all correct before finally thinking I had what it took to ask for money to perform. But when I did, and I hit that first paid gig, I was on fire. I knew the set inside and out, I knew where possible heckle points would come in, and knew how to face them. I was ready to take on the world of comedy and to make it my gentle lover, or at least not get booed off the stage like a chump. I hit the stage confident, and went right into my practiced routine.
And this time, the reaction was different. The crowd started laughing along, those who watched me take my licks on the amateur scene knew where the best bits were, and I would see them tap the arms of the people beside them to ensure they were really paying attention to what was coming up. I was only on stage for a half hour, but it felt like a full show in a sold out arena. At the end of it, I got a great round of applause, and even had some people catch up with me later at the bar to tell me that they liked the show. It was rewarding, even thought it was barely enough money to pay my phone bill, it was the first return I had on my time investment.