stage fright

The fear of the people

I’ve been contemplating doing stand-up comedy for a while now. I see all the specials on Netflix, and it gets me excited, but at the same time, I also come across the lesser known faces on Youtube get ripped apart for bad jokes. And then the hate comments. I get it. People come to see a good show, and if they don’t get one, they’ll rip you apart. I’ve seen really good comics do really bad shows and get booed. The crowd’s a harsh teacher. I get the whole “necessary evil” thing, but sometimes I wonder what happens to those comics who get beat down, never to get back up again.

I understand it’s a learning process. Once you gain the ability to steer the crowd in the way you want them to go, it’s like weilding a superpower. It feels great. The crowd’s in on the joke, they are with you all along the way, waiting for the punchline, and when you finally deliver it, they erupt in laughter. It’ the greatest feeling in the world, to make people laugh. 

I tried to do it once. It went ok, and by “ok” I mean there was no booing. Oh! I missed one small detail. No one laughed, They just kept staring at me, waiting for a punchline. The only problem was, I didn’t have one. The only thing I had with me was some loose change, and sweat. But I kept looking at the girl’s faces, because, you know, women are generally more supportive about this type of thing, plus I was very single. But even they didn’t have anything for me. So I cut the crap, did some investigation. 

Why am I funny in general, but a failure when I’m on stage? It has to be the fear, but then I trained myself out of the fear, and it still didn’t work. There was something limiting my ability to convey the humour. I wasn’t able to take the audience on a journey with me. Then it hit me. I am an introvert. My thought process is not then same in front of a crowd. That’s different from fear. It’s just that, the energy level is different. When I’m out with a friend or two, I don’t care where the conversation goes. I don’t filter out the religious, or sexual stuff from the my day-to-day experiences. Most importantly, I don’t try to be funny.  

Fuck this. People scare me, but I’ll keep coming back, punch-line or not.

Mean stage

When someone performs on stage in front of people, they really are putting themselves out there. Open to question, open to praise or even abuse. 

What makes someone want to perform in front of people? (This is coming from someone who is terrified of general social interactions. So forgive me if my analysis is a little skewed. Wait…I just remembered. I don’t give a shit what you think).

  • To get attention
  • To make money
  • To raise money for a cause
  • To have a good time
  • To make people happy
  • To show off
  • To get feedback
  • To teach
  • To spread joy

There’s so much more and I just realised that I don’t want to talk about all of them. So I am just going to stick to one. ‘Feedback’. Why talk about feedback? Well, I was at a solo instrumental competition the other day and I saw the soul get sucked out of the participants.

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Mean Stage

So what exactly caused the soul to exit the participants bodies?

It had nothing to do with the audience. There was a panel of three judges who basically wrecked the musical careers of some young people. The way I see it, when someone goes on stage for the first time in their life, in a way they are walking onto a platform, butt-naked. They are frightened, they don’t know what to do. All they want is to play their part and get the fuck out of there. If possible, get some feedback too. If they are lucky enough, they get what they want. But in some cases this shit happens. The judge feels a sense of responsibility to single handedly humiliate the first-timer in front of the whole crowd. To make it even worse, the other two idiots( also students of his) partake in making jokes while the participants are performing.

‘Constructive criticism’. Doesn’t that word actually sound good?  It feels good just to say it. ‘Constructive criticism’. Everyone wants it. Everyone needs it. It is the best thing you can give someone. Yet this ass-wipe judge felt the need to scar the vulnerable new-comer for his entire fucking life. The worst part is that this judge is an accomplished professional musician. I don’t understand how can one be so foolish. What kind of a person takes pride in shutting someone down? Is he trying to show off his judging skills? Has he forgotten his roots? Has he gone insane?