My sister-in-law Susan told me I was “part of a trend” when she sent me the December 1st New York Times article about a woman named Amy who lives in New York City and started doing stand-up after her divorce. The article was published two days before I was going up for the second time at the mic. I wanted to do standup again so I could get better, just like Amy.
For the past ten years I have been talking about wanting to do standup, but fear kept me from the mic. I also talked about singing karaoke and taking voice lessons, and while I did both, comedy was something I just couldn’t figure out how to do.
In 2014, after my husband and I were separated, I wrote my first set. Pain was all I needed to motivate me to write. I was in the backseat of the car on our way to Cleveland for the Thanksgiving holiday. I needed words to protect me and empower me, and they did. Three years later, when I watched the first episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I felt an odd sense of validation and I knew I would do standup too, maybe not in Midge’s wardrobe, but definitely in Midge’s shoes.
It took me two years and two new sets, but I did it – twice, thanks to a woman named Maureen. I met Maureen at a Women in Comedy workshop (my first brave move into the comedy world) and she told me about Feminine Comique and that’s when I found my community and ultimately my stage.
My husband was in the audience for my first performance but he couldn’t make it to the second because he had his knee replaced that morning, which I of course used as content.
At my second stab at the mic, just like Amy writes about ad libbing and blowing her favorite joke, I did too. But somehow I made it work and at least I didn’t go completely dark for seven seconds like I did the first time. I call that progress!
Before the show started, the women in my class and I were backstage getting ourselves ready. Each of us was either talking to a wall or a curtain rehearsing our set in quiet voices. Suddenly it felt like I was among professionals and I’m not sure if that hurt me or helped me on stage, but what I do know is that the community of female comics I have met through this little comedy journey of mine, has been better than any joke I could ever tell. That’s what Amy found in New York and that’s what I found in Chicago.
Whatever you want to do but are terrified to do it, picture yourself in the community of people who are already doing it and let that be your invitation to say yes. The best part about being brave is meeting the brave people who are crazy enough to be brave too. When we focus on community it helps remove fear and suddenly we find ourselves in front of a mic on a stage with an audience. 2020 is coming, a year to be brave and bold.