I was at the Improv on Melrose.
I had been in town for a wedding in LA.
For reference, it was a Tuesday night. Six o’clock show. January 10th, 2012.
Open mic night.
On a whim, I decided to check it out. Who goes out to these things, anyway? I was curious. Also on a whim, I decided to write my name down and add it to the pot of hopeful comics vying for a spot in the line-up (all drawn by lottery). What are the chances of getting picked – they’ll never pick me, it’s my first time here! The list gets posted. My friend checks it out since I’m too nervous to look. My name is on the list – I had been selected to perform stand-up for 3 minutes.
I almost threw up.
I felt sick. Sweaty. Yet my hands went freezing cold. I kept feeling nauseous.
In case you weren’t aware I am not one of those natural-born performers. I am not an actor, never felt any personal calling to be the star in any school production, and don’t even like being the center of attention. Hate being on camera even more. My experience as a performer that populate my resume largely include my credits in a second grade play about punctuation, and possibly my role in high school choir, the performances with which were always at least 80 to 100 deep with students. That, and one Level 1 improv class taken (to improve my perspective of actors, as a writer) at iO West, performances of which were kept fairly intimate, primarily among classmates.
I am a writer.
So I sat there, in the darkened corners of the Improv, trying to see some way out. Here are the avenues I quickly schemed.
One: I could pretend that I left. When the host called my name, I could yell out, “She left already! She’s gone!”
Two: I’d fall silent and let the moment come and go when it was time for me to perform.
Three: Three. Hmm. Considering the fact that there were plenty of other people whom had shown up to perform and hadn’t been selected, it would be rather insulting to, well, toss the privilege by NOT performing.
Four: What’s the worst that could happen, right? The worst thing I could do is bomb, right?
So I dragged myself up there. Peter Banachowski, the show’s affable and effervescent host, did not know to what end I was facing a personal fear.
I was shaking when I stepped up, and was so nervous about fiddling with the mic and walking around that I just ended up pulling the stool like a kid clutching a safety blanket, and sat down, and somehow the words began floating out of my mouth: “Hi, I’m gonna sit down, because I’m 28, and I’m tired…”
A few laughs floated from the darkness. I couldn’t see a damn thing with the spotlights.
I had some ideas of material floating around in my head that day, none of which I ended up using. Instead, my intro banter turned into captivating (or attempting to captivate) the sparse audience with a tale of how I’m too old to go out and the time I tried to go to my friend’s birthday party but was at the wrong club and ended up accidentally slapping a guy in the ass. (Hey, it happens – to people like me, I suppose. I’m sure that would never happen to – say, Natalie Portman, Kate Winslet. Tina Fey – maybe, Aziz Ansari – probably every day.)
I didn’t get roaring laughter – I got a few chuckles. I did get the sense that people were, at the least, entertained. Mainly, I survived the three minutes and seemed to have more material to spare. I survived. I was OK!
So, that happened.
After that night at the Improv, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. How I wanted to get up and do it again. Try my hand. Overachiever complex much? Do better. Write more material. Get exposure as a writer – because, at the end of the day, comics aren’t just performers – they’re writers. They are their own complete and self-sufficient ships, navigating choppy waters with no guarantee of finding Atlantis. I would pursue stand-up and move back to LA after working abroad for a year. Great. I knew what I was going to do after that year abroad. Perfect.
After returning to Philly, I knew I couldn’t just take off to work abroad again.
I had to get back to pursuing my dreams as a writer. Get back to LA. Get back in the game. I had a career to focus on – something about that night had snapped me back into focus. The things I wanted.
Fast forward to now – it’s April. I got on a plane in February. I found an apartment in Valley Village – which is not NoHo, not quite Studio City, but not as bad as Van Nuys. I went to the DMV. Multiple times. (With an appointment, what am I, a moron?) I started a new career. I then lied to parents about said career. I watched The Hunger Games.
I’m beginning to reconnect with old friends (I was gone for less than two years! Apparently in LA time that’s like being dead.)
Oh, hell. Back in the Discomfort Zone. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Ya knooooow?!
Public meltdown in tears – completed. Ah, the stress. Of doing things all on my own. Of remembering how flakiness runs rampant in LA. Of going to Ikea.
Conclusions: moving and getting furniture is the boyfriend’s or husband’s job. Must not move unless I am getting married, or completely loaded with boyfriend in tow.
There are already problems discovered with my new apartment – repairs, paint chips, loud night AND DAY birds, sketchy neighborhood, horrendous left turns onto the street, I could put you to sleep.
I don’t care. This will be my last apartment of singlehood. Or, before I become a baller. That is all. Marriage or affluence is what will move me out of this apartment.
Also, have begun researching how to kill nightbirds. Ok – not kill. But those things are dastardly flying rodents. I will begin to throw rocks. After I call the county pest control office near me. Then, if all else fails – rocks, I tell you.
I have had many a pest outside my LA apartments – Saturday morning gardeners, passing traffic, old Armenian dudes that smoked outside and wouldn’t shut up for hours, Saturday morning football game screaming, freeway traffic. But never real life angry birds. It would be a joke except I’m sitting up in bed hearing their pestilent noises while all my windows are closed.
So here we are. My roads have somehow led me back here, la-la land. Completely different and familiar.
New adventures, I suppose.
Also, I am giving the online dating world a try.
Eh, I seem to like being out of my comfort zone, right? My age range for the guy I’d date falls between 26 and 33 years old, inclusive.
Exceptions: Tom Hardy, Jeremy Renner, end of list.