Performance Anxiety

The Open Mic Host, Allan, at "The Bar With No Name" playing Re: Your Brains by Jonathan Coulton

(Photo:  The Open Mic Host, Allan, at “The Bar With No Name” playing Re: Your Brains by Jonathan Coulton)

This is basically a stream of consciousness post, so please bare with me.

The other night, I did something I have never done before, perform at an Open Mic night.  No, I did not sing or play any instrument (trust me you would not to hear or see that).  Nor did I do any stand up comedy.  No, I did what I have longed to do for some time now: be a Performance Storyteller.  I feel at times storytelling is a lost art and myself being the one who tries to find the cool old thing and make it new again, I want to be a great storyteller.

What stories did I perform? Well, if you’ve read or have heard my work before, you probably have heard of the “Got West?” story detailing my run-in with Adam West.  I performed that as well as one of my favourite poems, “Like” by Mike McGee.  

I was nervous, I was going up after several really good music acts and some great stand up comics.  I’ve always respected the art of the stand up comic.  The nights of hitting up several comedy clubs and open mics to work out material.  The Open Mic I was at had at least 7 or 8 comics who took the stage before I stepped up.  Since I was in the front row, I felt obligated to laugh.  Some were great, some weren’t, but I respected them for getting up there and working out material.

Great thing was, and I didn’t know this until afterwards, that when I signed up the comics saw me and decided to stay because they thought I was a gracious audience member for them.  That was cool.

When my turn arrived, I was nervous.  I usually don’t get super nervous when performing in front of a crowd.  I don’t know if it’s because I can’t see a lot of people’s faces so it doesn’t distract me, however as I stood behind the mic, I felt flustered and I stumbled through the Got West story.  People loved it and laughed at the right places, but I felt it wasn’t what it should have been.  Note for next time: Prepare.

When I finished, I felt the need to get some air, when I did the group of comics were already standing outside critiquing their own performance.  When they saw me, they congratulated me on a great set.  They loved the Adam West story, and thought the Like poem was funny.  It was great to hear that from people who do this pretty much for a living.  

I left shortly afterwards, and I thought to myself, I really want to do this.  I love performing, I miss it a lot.  Plus, I love telling my own stories.  I felt great as I got on the bus to my apartment.  

Expect to see a lot more of that in the months to come.  I want to do it again!