By D.J. ARIZMENDI
Sometimes we do something so crazy we know it will change our life forever. Performing standup comedy on stage was not one of those times, but at least it was fun.
I was about 9 years old when I told my first dirty joke. The joke’s details are fuzzy now, but the laughter that ensued from kids at the playground still comes in clear.
Since then, I’ve daydreamed about appearing on stage to make strangers laugh. Like most childhood fantasies, the dream faded when I become concerned about fitting into a mold.
After hearing that a journalism instructor of this fine institution was a comic, however, I figured it was time to drop the hipster ego and get my ass on stage.
I did some serious journalistic research (about 11 minutes worth before giving up and asking my adviser), and was told to call Laffs to reserve a spot at Open Mic Night.
Getting a spot was easy. The hard part was coming up with material in less than a week.
Sure I can make friends, family and coworkers laugh until they cry, but that’s because of inside jokes or spur-of-the-moment observations. The more I thought, the less funny my ideas became.
Sometimes, though, inspiration comes from strange places. The day before my performance, my body set up its own punchline: a cold from hell.
Just as some famous personalities do, I mixed medications like a cocktail and hoped for the best. While in my artificial coma, random moments from my life replayed in my head in red, blue and green.
When I awoke and blinked my eyes for the doctors, I realized the funniest things in life are just that, things. Instead of making puns or quips, I decided to pull material from my life.
On the night of the event, I had all the confidence in the world. Until I saw the other performers.
Having to sit through more than 30 comics before going on last gave me second thoughts. They had charisma and didn’t care what people thought. I was the only rookie in the house.
In all honesty, I hoped at least one person would bomb but that didn’t happen. One by one, comics came and went amidst a consistent flow of laughs. I started to panic.
Out of nowhere, a comic on stage asked me a question to set up a joke. I sat there, dazed. After about 10 “umms,” I spit out a one-word reply.
Talk about a bad impression. I was supposed to go on stage, yet could barely function as an audience member.
Just when I thought I couldn’t do it, the club owner blasted my name incorrectly on the PA system.
All doubts, uncertainty and indecision vanished. I fell into a robotic phase.
With the lights blindingly bright, I saw no one. It was like talking to myself and hearing my voice come back to me.
As soon as I started to speak, I felt something surge through my body that I don’t remember feeling since losing my virginity. That something was adrenaline.
My heart raced, my mind was on auto-pilot. I was scared and excited at the same time. The range of emotions during my 2-minute set are indescribable.
On the way home, I still felt the adrenaline and could not stop shaking for most of the night.
Though I would call this experiment a success, I will probably not do standup again.
That being said, it does not lessen the impact on my life. Even though most of us can’t fulfill our dreams, we can always dip our feet in occasionally.