Mission 2: Attempt a stand-up set at a comedy open mic.
Objective: Do something bold that aligns with one of my interests (comedy) to snap out of a funk.
Mission reportI nearly shat myself. Coincidentally, my opening “bit” pertained to a local bear who recently achieved notoriety for doing just that. The rapscallion destroyed and crashed a car, and also opted to defecate inside the vehicle. This was not simply for good measure, as it turns out. In the newspaper article, a neighbor speculated it was, “likely because (the bear) was nervous.” When my name was announced to go on stage, I lumbered toward the mic like an anxious IBS-riddled bear, fighting both the impulse to scat and the fear of producing it.
This mission was conceived from the will to (1) actively participate in comedy; (2) complete a daring personal challenge; and (3) uncover what brings me joy. It was not derived from some delusion that I’m funny enough to command attention on a stage. To anyone who confidently wields rhetoric under a spotlight, this endeavor might seem like child’s play – small town open mic, low stakes … one could sashay through this fleeting moment exuding the self-possession of a Dame Helen Mirren or a Peasant Meryl Streep (“Peasant” being the presumed title for a non-dame). Not so for me and my oodles of social anxiety.
I brainstormed premises throughout the week and whittled them down on Friday, but mostly shoved the impending doom from my mind until the day of (Saturday). By that afternoon, my set consisted of three wildly unrelated bits, which I mentally recited until they nearly grew stale, no longer preserved by novelty. While attempting to jot down keywords for convenient reference, nervousness prevailed and everything poured from my pen in long-form. I even wrote down, “Thanks y’all, have a great night!” What a chump.
When I arrived at Eno minutes before the deadline to sign up, the venue was practically empty and the sign-up sheet was entirely so. My stomach lurched at a lonely set of numbers with no names sidled up beside them. I signed up, clocked some escape routes, and secluded myself at a back table, guzzling water in lieu of alcohol. Eno’s GM, India, approached me to welcome a new face, and informed me that a comic visiting Durango would be hosting/headlining the evening. Some of the Eno staff eventually joined the lineup, and a crowd drawn by the pro (Amber Klear) materialized right before the show began. As my moment arrived, I became engulfed by a pounding sensation that crescendoed with dizzying intensity in my head.
To establish an immediate rapport with locals, I opened with non-polarizing, esoteric bear news, building to the pinnacle car episode. It’s just so rare that a wild animal’s motivation for pooping is deemed relevant. Perhaps the detail would prove useful in targeting the criminal at large: “Vandal and car thief deposits accidental yet distinct calling card.” I think I feigned confidence well enough from the beginning, but the audience was respectfully not on-board with a glorified poop joke.
I detailed my struggle to reap the medicinal benefits of marijuana, given that THC renders my brain extra ridiculous. Some edibles are too scrumdiddlyumptious for moderation, so I once mistook a blanket-cloaked object for the silhouette of Garfield. “The anthropomorphic feline and titular character of the comic series, Garfield?” Indeed, the very one. My elation at the prospect of our meeting dissolved into distress, as my attire was unbefitting of cartoon royalty. Garfield would totally neg someone for wearing sweatpants evocative of a “Naptime Leisurewear” line from OshKosh B’Gosh. Material on cannabis may be overdone, but the overall joke was more about my cerebral shortcomings.
Although my closing bit was arranged in the context of mental health and elicited the best response, the content is too risqué to record for posterity. Exiting the stage felt like being swaddled in the folds of a cinnamon roll – sweet, sweet relief. At least I can say I didn’t bomb. Amber was the star and a mercy, because her lasting impression cleansed away any aftertaste from my duds. I’m thankful to the supportive Eno crew (including India), whose kindness went a long way for me emotionally!
After the show, another performer caught me employing an Irish Goodbye (the best invention since sliced Irish soda bread), and we talked comedy over a drink. Due to the tax on my nerves, stand-up wasn’t the ideal heart-mending activity for me. On the plus side: I rassled my fear, received some props for my jokes and “lexicon,” and celebrated with my first Moscow Mule. I drank this fancy libation out of an elegant copper mug. Who’s the Dame now, Mirren?
Next mission: Learn how to two-step
Outcome: Mission Accomplished!
Skills Improved/Commendations: Comedy Chops, Courage Badge, Lexicon Kudos
Heart-mending Effectiveness (out of 5 hearts): ♥ ♥ ♥
Cassidy Cummings learned how to tie her shoes the “long way” (two bunny ears) and has been running late ever since.