Sunday, September 4, 2005

He Got Caught In The Spotlight

stage lights.jpgbut when we get to the end, he wants to start all over again.Friday night I performed at a show in Northern Kentucky. I had recently met this woman, Teri Foltz, who is about my age and teaches English at a Northern Kentucky high school. She also teaches stand up comedy there and she performs at open mic nights at places like Go Bananas. That's how we met: we were both performing at GB about a month ago and started talking. After that show, she asked if I would like to be part of this show on Friday. The show was set up by friends of hers that wanted to see her perform more than 5 minutes (which is all you get at GB) and do it in a smoke-free, f-word-free zone. Teri's husband is a jazz saxophone player and performs with a combo. the show was a mix of jazz and comedy with myself, a couple other stand up guys Teri likes, the emcee who does comedy songs and Teri as the featured comedian.I had 10 minutes which meant I had to put together two sets I'd done at GB previously. I spent a lot of time editing and weaving them together and I was not real confident that i had all the changes memorized. The show was in a theater (a former strip club) in Newport KY. Several of my friends were there and I was worried about what they were about to see. For two weeks I had been thinking that this would be the last time I performed - the pre-show stress is wearing on me. I was more nervous before the show than I usually am, worried that I would forget major parts or just mess up the delivery of punch lines as I was trying to think ahead to the next piece. Teri's husband and his jazz combo started the evening. The music was smooth and sweet and soothing, though not soothing enough to take away my jitters. I could suddenly not think of how my routine started. The emcee/comedy-singer came on and was truly funny with a topical song. the first comedian, Mike Cody, went on and was very good. The audience laughed; I laughed; I pictured myself up there, bombing. The emcee came back and did a couple more funny songs - I liked him a lot. Then he was calling my name. I swallowed the butterflies hovering in my throat. I got up on stage and did the first joke**, which was about how I happened to be in the show. It got a bigger laugh than I expected. And so did the next line. My whole set went like that. My timing and delivery just came out right as if I was actually a comedian. Part of it was that the audience was the right age for my material. They connected to it and the feedback of laughter helped keep me going. (I did forget one line which made me also have to drop a later line that referred back to it - not a big deal, but it did, and does still, bother me) the final big punchlines got a great response and I left the stage feeling really good.I didn't hear the next 10 minutes - I went outside and was talking to Mike Cody, who had some very nice things to say and asked me if I wanted to perform at the Viper Club (in downtown Cincinnati) on amateur night (Mike is the emcee for those). We went back in and heard the other comic, who was funny, but unfortunately did not get a connection with the audience this time out. There was a jazz interlude, more emcee songs and then Teri Foltz got up. She also did very well. She has really good material, including biting remarks about why she chooses to teach high school instead of middle school or elementary grades. Her humor is witty and intelligent and the crowd really enjoyed it, as did I. There was more jazz and we hung around until most people had left and then went home. I still had adrenaline going and was ready to do it again; I was thinking about performing at the Viper Room and what material I would use. Now, a couple days later, I'm not sure about it. What if I can't get that same roll going with the timing and delivery? what if I forget stuff?

**"It's kind of a fluke that I'm even here. I just met Teri a few weeks ago when we both performed at Go Bananas. After I finished my set, Teri came up to me and just asked me straight out, 'How the hell tall are you anyway?' I said 6' 6". Apparently that's all the qualifications she was looking for because here I am."

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