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  1. Helene's First Time

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    My First Time
    by Helene Gresser, Amazingly Successful Comic Extraordinaire TM
    Before I talk about my first time can I just say that it is amazing that I am even writing this little ditty a whole 24 hours before it is “due.” I spend my whole life in panicked procrastination and so this is a huge accomplishment for me. I await your approving “hmmf” sound. Still waiting. Okay WHATEVER.

    I was in college, my senior year, and there was some Doritos/Certs College Comedy Competition, so I entered it. Big whup, right? See, I had never ever, ever done stand-up before, but I was an ACTRESS, and was often told how HILARIOUS I was, so that was enough for me to think “Huh. Might as well try this little thang over here with the stage and microphone and HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE for my first time ever on stage doing comedy and crap. What could possibly happen to me that is more humiliating than pretending to dance as “Anita” in West Side Story, or pretending to sing in a foreign language that I made up on the spot when I forgot the words to a French ballad I sang for the head of the vocal department of the music school?” Easy-peasey lemon-squeezy.

    West Side Story
    So the night of the competition, and I mean THAT NIGHT, I threw a bunch of props in a paper bag like some lazy-ass Carrot Top on extra steroids, and figured if I could not think of two whole minutes of funny stuff to say, I’d just pull this here Jem/Jerrica Barbie-type doll outta my little sack and riff on her light-up earrings and how it relates to her ORGASMS!! Ha ha! ‘Cause that’s the kind of classy, well-prepared comic I strived to be. Ole bag-of-props, blue-talking, comedy GENIUS that I am. But before I tried that bag-o-funny, I watched as one comic completely went up (meaning she forgot her routine) and stood at the mic for about ninety seconds saying “oh….um…gosh….heh heh….wow…. I……um…heh….wow….um…..I forgot my……………uh…………….wow…………..hem……”

    and it was HELLISH TORTURE. The longest ninety seconds ever experienced on earth. I am not exaggerating at all. Seriously, try it some time. Try standing at a mic and act uncomfortable and say nothing for one minute and thirty seconds. I defy you not to want to run screaming offstage whilst wetting your lady-panties. Because if you do not, then rest assured the audience is PRAYING that you do, for that would at least provide some respite from the horrid torture chamber of silence and agonizing “mumph” sounds. Just do SOMETHING.ANYTHING. Make a fart sound with your hands. Just. Please. I think, I think that I was at least somewhat funny, from the little I remember, because the audience made a sound like I’ve never heard before, nor since (due to lack of humongous hundreds-strong audiences in my usual clubs): genuine, loud, tidal wave-like, delicious roar-laughter.

    I think I joked about my boyfriend, and then I freaked out shortly thereafter, ending my set about 30 seconds shy of the seemingly years-long two minutes, for I feared he was in the audience and JUDGING me and vowing to break up with me for daring to use him as material. Stupid boyfriends always ruin the fun.

    I did not do stand-up again until another competition while I was in grad school, and I was equally unprepared, and also freaked about my time, as you lose all sense of time when things are going well, and you cannot see the light “flash” to warn you that it is time to wrap things up, and going over your time is a sin equal to spilling your seed upon the ground or coveting thy neighbor’s wife or sheep or something. And I am nothing if not a girl terribly afraid of doing something that flouts the rules. Yessirreebob, I need everything to be JUST SO; unless it involves preparation, homework, paperwork, or anything that sounds horrifically dry and boring and “work” related. Fuck the work, just do it. That was my credo, and still sometimes is, though I cannot say it is advice I give to anyone I care deeply about. But hell, it got me to where I am today: completely unknown, but wildly poor. And


  2. 5 comments:

    1. tom pullin said...

      I still think you did a pretty good job.... ;)

    2. Unknown said...

      Love it. I want more stories. Awesome!

    3. Thank God for those competitions!

    4. Lady Ha Ha said...

      The picture with the big red lips. Nuff said. Fabulous!

    5. Amy said...

      Knowing you now, I totally wish that there was footage of you being afraid of 2 minutes! Now, when you leave the stage after 15 minutes, I'm still wanting more. I can't even imagine....

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