Logic, Luck and Love
The music was barely audible over the applause. This show had really caught fire in the media. Or Amy’s introduction was disproportionately flattering. We could barely hear the music, which was unfortunately the cue for the other three to sit down. They figured it out. Whew. Thankfully I work with smart people.
“If any of you believe in romance… and would like to continue to be fooled, you may want to leave now.” That line usually gets a muffled “heh” from 3 to 5 people. This crowd broke out in real laughter, almost reminiscent of a sitcom. And that theme continued. There were literally applause breaks where there wasn’t even laughter before. At Fringe, I had resolved myself to believing that the opening part just wasn’t going to get laughs. It was too smart to really be the kind of humor that makes people laugh out loud. And it was OK.
Not anymore. I really, really had the crowd that night. I got laughs on several occasions just with a cock of the eyebrow or a slight tilt of the head. I was so completely in the moment. I intentionally walked to the other side of the stage after the first “certain… sexual… acts” delivered to a brunette in the 2nd row only to drag out the callback 15 seconds later. I smirked more. I felt cockier. I used the hell out of pauses. My facial expressions were something I hadn’t even practiced. I don’t know that I could have. I’m just thankful to have had the instincts to let loose with them.
There was one time and only one time that I was “on” in basketball. I was just shooting around – I think with no one – on the outdoor courts at UMBC. I just got this feeling like every shot I took was going to go in. And they did. It didn’t last long – maybe only 2 shots – but I KNEW it. Before I even took the shot. And the first one I missed, I even felt that too. This was like that. Only I wasn’t by myself in the freezing cold avoiding Laura Garms tonight.
I think a major role in how loose and present I was had EVERYTHING to do with me not having to memorize stage commands. Last year, I had to concentrate so hard on remembering to walk while thinking, stop to make a point, take a step to the left, end up in the middle to deliver the thesis, don’t retreat, NEVER retreat. Not now. There was a flood light on the entire stage every moment I was speaking and I just tried to make sure not to fall off of it.
I got through the first two pieces with as much laughter as I’ve ever heard. And after those first two pieces, I get to sit for about 15 minutes and just watch. And sing. And of course I got to deliver one of the biggest laugh lines of the show with “I [pause] see dead people.” I decided to add the pause this time to make the crowd expect a sentimental moment from me, only to yank the football away again. Once again, awesomeness.
Everybody seemed more relaxed. Kevin had the crowd laughing, Molly even called out to the crowd at one point and Jenn (performer) was completely audible to the latecomers in the back, which we were all worried about for good reason, but turned out to be just fine. I think. Truthfully I’m not sure. Get here on time next time.
“What’s wrong with you?” Crazy Bitch blares over the now much more audible speakers. My turn to get back up. And if the crowd liked the opening bit that much, I couldn’t wait to see how they’d react to the part that is supposed to be funny. And they ate it up. This article is becoming very boring for me to write now, since it seems like that’s all I have to say. I settled down in the Brick Street piece much more than ever. Better than rehearsal had ever been. I specifically remember taking my time when I went to mount the “dancer.” I lifted my leg up and put it down several times as if preparing for the kill. It’s something that hadn’t even occurred to me to do until just then on stage. Just using more negative space for humor.
This was also finally the time I had actually lost control of myself during the douchebag dance. I found myself falling back toward my seat (thankfully not forward), but was able to regain control without breaking form for the 7 seconds I need to do the stupid dance. Apparently it’s harder than I gave it credit for being. Poor douchebags.
My last piece was emotional. It’s the story of origin of Jenn and I. I was getting a little choked up at this part, which is somewhat by design. I like to show the crowd that I’m not just a superficial tail-chasing frat guy, but I have changed. The show gets heavy at this point and not only does thinking about Jenn (fiancée) make me emotional, but so do the other performer’s stories. My heart still stops every time I see Kevin push back his box. And I get my emotions from another source on this night. Tonight, I am proud of the work we have put together. I feel that I’ve done something meaningful. Something real. Something my dad would be proud of. This isn’t just 5 minutes of dick jokes anymore. This is inspiring people. And that is inspiring me. And it gets me emotional. So I let it use me and I use it. I got through the longest (and most emotional) part of my show perfect and after “If you spend you whole life changing the radio station just in case there’s a better song on the radio… you’re not gonna listen to a whole lot of music,” I got applause. Loud and genuine applause.
I sat down and watched Jenn (performer) finish her hopeful bit, Molly finish her uplifting bit, and Kevin cap his tragedy in especially heartbreaking fashion. He got to his part about the box and I got chills. Still, after all this time. I had to repress the emotions to close the show. It was only three sentences and honestly, I wish I had left a few tears in my eyes when I said them. But it was still moving. And real. For the record, if you’ve seen the last part of the show and feel like I’m cheating by summoning that emotion, well the truth is that I always feel that. Every performance. It’s just a matter of how much I choose to suppress it. And for those who still believe that tears are only an indication of sadness, I hope you’ll grow out of that one day.
The unfortunate thing about this performance is that I’ll never again be able to perform for less than 250 people. This experience was too good. I’m going out on top. And since this is so meaningful and inspirational, I’m likely not going to ever be able to do stand up again. Five minutes of dick jokes isn’t even a craving of mine anymore. Even the Speakeasy stage, which was once my light house, has become my albatross in equal measure. Yeah, I’m still not sure what that metaphor means.
But anyway, I just heard today that we’ve been accepted as part of the Fringe Festival again this summer. So it looks like the beat will go on. And others will get to see the show. Don’t miss out this time. And bring a date. Trust me. It will work.