Standing up

On Saturday evening, I got up on a stage and tried to make people laugh. It's something I've wondered about. It was just an open mic night – with karaoke to make performing as accessible as possible.

There were three of us that did something other than karaoke. A singer-guitarist and a poet. Oh, a couple of people got up and told some jokes, but not ones they'd written.

I did my own material, if you can call it that. My own words and ideas, at least in terms of the content. I knew it was coming up and I'd been sketching a few ideas in my head. I didn't write anything down, but had a couple of key moments and lines as milestones to keep me on track. I was nervous – I'm not good at talking in front of people. But this felt different in that, somehow, the words wanted to come out.

The was nothing original about my shtick, though: silliness initially disguised as poetry. I was really glad of the musician, who kindly agreed to play some backing music, which I think definitely helped. Plus I tipped him off that there'd be some awkward interactions between us and I'd buy him a beer after. Luckily he really got it, and (literally) played along.

I can point to three specific comedians who directly influenced and informed what I did, and I feel like I drew enough from them that, really, all the hard work had been done for me. If I were to do something like this with any regularity I'd want more originality in the fundamental idea – the character, or whatever. That would only be right.

It went well. People laughed when they were supposed to. If I never do it again I'm glad I did it. But it might be a nice thing to do now and then. If I can come up with that core idea. And if there are some nices places to do it that aren't too far away and/or full of drunk people that want to hear jokes about goodness-knows-what.

So yeah: that happened. I'm as surprised as anyone.