Monday, November 23, 2009

Pumped up for the show

Can you get up in front of an audience and tell your story with no notes, no papers, just you and a microphone? My friend Jayne can, and she invited me to a fundraiser last week to celebrate just that. The Moth is an organization that hosts storytelling events all over the city (and beyond) featuring a nightly theme and five storytellers who share a ten-minute tale about their lives.

Watching the performers that night reminded me of my college weekend job at a comedy club. I worked as a bartender/waitress and often served drinks to the comedians gearing up in the green room. Even with the uber-confident performers, the vibe in the room (which wasn't green, by the way) skewed tense, and I was careful not to disturb whatever process they needed in preparation to go on stage. Some comedians became arrogant, even belligerent, pumping up their tough persona only to slip out of it like a dirty suit after they finished. Others withdrew in the green room, quiet and nervous, muttering punch lines to no one.

Whatever their behavior in the green room, I rooted for each one when the show began. Even the guy who grabbed my ass (and apologized later.) Okay, yes, I had some skin in their success as well -- more laughs = bigger tips. But I respected the people who could get up on the stage with nothing but a microphone and open themselves up like that.

The Moth doesn't allow stand-up comedy at their performances. Still, some performers kill and some bomb. And the prerequisites are the same: you, a microphone, and a pair of brass balls.

Rejection through email is bad enough. At least writers rarely deal with hecklers.

How about you? Could you get up and tell your story?

8 comments:

slushpilehero said...

i've always wanted to try it..

DebraLSchubert said...

I could get up and tell my story as long as it wasn't required I make people laugh. That would definitely be hit or miss! My sister tried stand-up a few times. I admire anyone who gives it a try. Next to music, comedy is my favorite form of entertainment.

WendyCinNYC said...

You both should try it if you come in town! I have no problems with readings (I did one at the Southampton Writer's Conference) or public speaking, but taking a public risk like that without notes or a book to shield me would be tougher, I think!

Janna Qualman said...

Part of me thinks I could, the other, not so much. I've done video blogs without scripts, but there's no live audience. That would affect things for you.

Are you going to try it?

Janna Qualman said...

I just saw your reply ^^. I agree notes would be better. I have a hard time looking at people, so something in my hands (I know, a no-no) to focus on would be preferable.

WendyCinNYC said...

Janna--I'm thinking about trying it someday. Maybe. May-be.

Allie said...

Wow! That must be amazing to see!

SharonK said...

No desire to try it whatsoever... I love to write and love to talk but when the spotlight is just on me and me alone? No way!