First, when I got to the club they were holding the event in, there was a long line to get in. After I reached the front, I was asked my name by a guy with a list. I mean, there were a lot of people, but the site is pretty popular. “Good thing I RSVP-ed,” I thought to myself as the guy looked up my name on the list. It wasn’t there.
“Is this the ComedyWire event?” I asked. It was not. I had to go downstairs. Oh. OK.
Downstairs, there were far fewer people, arranged as so: One person at each table, each looking at their cell phone. “Oh, my,” I mused, “Are there 15 people here?” I considered the possibility that if there weren’t, they might grab people out of the audience to do a set (This is foreshadowing).
Once I entered the room, the person in charge said something like “Make sure you sign in!” Every workshop and group I’ve gone to always has an attendance sheet. So I signed it.
Drinks were on the company, so I was sitting with another writer/performer who was set to go up and I mentioned that I was there to be the audience, after all, somebody had to do it.
So, I’m drinking my beer and enjoying the show. It was an interesting mix. Some came prepared. Others had notes. Some had good jokes, but no delivery. Others had stage presence but not good material. As they pulled names out of the hat for the 3rd batch of performers, my name was called. “No!” I blurted out. No one heard, except Aaron who I was seated with. “Do it,” he said. Meanwhile, my nerd brain decides to note that this is just like “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
My brain was slipping gears as I desperately attempted to figure out how to play this. I supposed I could have just run over to the woman calling out the names that my name was in there in error. That would have been the sensible thing to do. Instead, when my name got called, I took the stage.
“There’s been a horrible mistake,” I announced. “I thought I had signed an attendance sheet. I shouldn’t be up here, I’m a writer guy. A writer guy!”
I looked out at the audience and couldn’t see a thing. The spot light was right on me. I’m pretty sure I shielded my eyes at first. After that, it gets fuzzy.
Aaron said I did a solid minute and a half. Seemed longer.
Naturally, as a writer, I’ve totally re-written the scene in my head. I’m remembering the fantasy set I’ve thought about time and time again if I ever did stand-up again. I thought of old jokes and new jokes. I remembered the knock-knock joke I thought for my grandson. All of which reminds me of what I discovered last time I preformed stand-up. I’m more comfortable behind the keyboard than the mic. I’m not quick enough on my feet to man a stage. There I was, the first time on stage since that karaoke night on the cruise ship (which would have been a good set-up with me just adding “I killed.”). I was goofily panicked but not nervous. I noticed one guy’s hand shaking as he kept pulling out his list. It didn’t feel like that. It felt safe. Like you were among colleagues and not a hostile audience. I wish I had done better. I wish I had thought to take a selfie of me on stage. I wish it could have been a fantasy-come-true moment for me. But, then, hey, I’m a writer; it will be.