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  1. Samantha's First Time

    Sunday, July 1, 2012


    My first stand-up experience was painful, nay, excruciating. Here’s how it happened (As we speak, I’m trying to find the video.  Yes.  There’s video).

    I started stand-up at 40 years-old when a friend secretly signed me up for a comedy class at Gotham Comedy Club.  I was quite shocked to receive the email notification of my registration, but as it was a particularly rough time in my life, I figured I had nothing to lose, save my dignity and there really wasn’t much left of that, so what the hell.

    I trekked into the city (dear lord, I just found the first video and it’s even more excruciating than I remembered... now I’m not really sure if I want to post it.) and joined about 25 other people from all walks of life.  Dog walkers, a transvestite (who had a body that I’ve always dreamed of having ... minus the penis, of course), lawyers, teachers, authors, you name it.  One fella couldn’t speak Engrish.  How bad could I possibly be?  Rhetorical.

    We were told, at the end of class, that we would need to be prepared to do 5 minutes of stage time by the next class, preferably without notes.  

    I poured through my volumes of hilarious journal entries that I had been collecting since I was 17, and for a week, whittled those volumes down to my best 5 (with a smattering of new material to keep things relevant...we were also instructed to write, write, write).

    The night arrived.  I was 5th in the line-up and took the stage right after a Greek gent did his 5 with a condom over the microphone.   Four words.  Thank God no lube.  I do not know the purpose of the condom (the irony here being very poignant knowing the conditions by which my first son was conceived...actually, both sons).

    Disgusted, petrified, I took the stage.  What had seemed so funny on paper, what had seemed to tickle my friends after a few cosmos now just seemed so trite, so rehearsed, so unfunny.  Not seemed.  My set was trite, rehearsed, and unfunny.  I opened with a “Didja-ever-notice” joke about the weather.  No guffaws.  No knees being slapped.  I then segued gracefully into a real-life scenario about being at the ballpark with my son.  What, no one’s face hurts from laughing so hard?  I closed with a joke about the newly elected President Obama, did an awful impersonation of a ghettoized Michelle Obama (I just realized that ghettoized is a real word as spell check has not auto corrected it), and then “wowed” them with a Hillary Clinton impersonation/callback to the ballpark to show them all that I was smart AND witty. 

    Sometimes hearing uncomfortable laughter is worse than silence. 

    The instructor gave his critique (while I was still on stage), told me not to use my notes, suggested that I wear a dress, and then allowed me to crawl back to my seat.  Oh, he gave me other valuable advice I’m sure, but those are the only two nuggets of comedy wisdom that I can remember. 

    He bade us all farewell and said, “See you next week.”  There were 12 of us the following week and about 6 of us at our “graduation show” 6 weeks later.  That was 2009.



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  2. 3 comments:

    1. Joanne Filan said...

      Such a great post! It totally takes me back. Ugh, thanks a lot.

    2. Gosh, 2009. Seems like a lifetime ago.
      Agreed, uncomfortable laughter is more painful than silence. Which is not golden either.

      Great post!

    3. Amy said...

      I LOVE it that his advice was to "wear a dress". That is the most awesome advice I have ever heard.

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