Week after week I write about how nervous I get before I get on stage and while I am on stage. Week after week I question why I get so nervous, why I am not getting more comfortable, but I am learning that maybe it is a good thing.
I have been reading a lot of books about comedy. I want to learn and grow as much as I can. There are two books that have really impacted how I look at stand-up and how I approach my dream. The first book being “Comic Insights” The Art of Stand-up Comedy” by Franklyn Ajaye I couldn’t put down. The author interviews several comedians about their careers in stand-up. From Jerry Seinfeld to Ellen DeGeneres comedians open up about how they started, coming up with jokes, their future and more. Ajaye also gives advice about finding your style, writing material and basically just how to get started.
The second book, “Do You Talk Funny?: 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker (Unabridged)” by David Nihill, this book shows how the key principles of comedy can be applied to public speaking. I learned a lot from this book, especially about dealing with stage fright.
Let me try to paint the picture of how nervous I get before I go on stage. Imagine standing naked in front of a crowd of people, it’s worse than that. It’s burning ears, a flushed face, sweaty palms and a racing heart. It’s self doubt, it’s feeling unprepared and not funny. It’s a feeling of not being good enough, of wondering what the hell I am doing. It’s a feeling of wondering if I am the joke, if the laughs are at me and not my jokes.
A week ago, before I read these books, I would let those nerves get to me. I would get in my head and second guess my set. I would get on stage and the doubt would overcome me and I would get tongue-tied and lost in my notes. Now it’s a different story, now I use those nerves to empower me.
What does it mean to be nervous? It means that you are tense, alert, anxious; that your body is filled with adrenaline. So basically your body is your weapon. I can use these nerves to help me…as long as I don’t let the nerves take control.
So the next time I get on stage, if you see me pacing back and forth or rubbing my sweaty palms on my pants, it’s my nerves. Maybe one day they will go away, but for now those nerves are just clearing my mind and getting me better prepared to make you laugh.