I didn’t always love performing. Before writing a sketch and performing in the sketch comedy class play in business school, called Follies, I avoided the stage. That performance experience became one of the most amazing, transformative experiences of my life.
It opened me up to emotional awareness and expression beyond any expectations. I knew I would perform more, despite the anxiety the mere thought of it created.
Taking Meisner technique classes took performance to another level of depth, expression, contact with my scene partner, and awareness.
I view stand-up comedy as an art. It’s one of the few performance arts where one person does everything—writing, editing, performing. Musicians, actors, dancers, singers, and so on usually perform what others wrote. So it’s an incredibly scary art.
Public speaking and corporate keynote speaking may not seem like performance arts to many, but I see them as such. I’m working to develop the art in them. Practicing related arts helps develop an artist.
Hence practicing stand-up.
Most people fear performing in front of an audience. Trying to make them laugh with your own jokes is all the more scary.
Last year, hearing Christina Canter‘s stand-up experience (after appearing on her podcast) got me thinking about performing more than ever. A few months ago I attended a workshop on comedy for academics with Symposium: Academic Stand-Up. Since then I’ve worked up the nerve to try.
Keeping in mind to keep low standards the first time, two Sundays ago I did it. The program allows for storytelling and it’s for an academic, geeky audience, so I went for a funny geeky story.
Here’s the video. Now that I’ve seen it, I should have cut most of the set-up. That’s how we learn!
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