When I was 13 I started learning how to play the guitar. When I was 14 I wrote a funny song about my mom and the Internet that I played at a church youth group party. I’ll never forget it. Although I do forget how it came up exactly, I remember saying I wrote a song and someone else wanting to hear it. And luckily someone at the house had a guitar.
I played it for the people around me and I remember hearing everyone laughing. I was on cloud nine. Then that following Wednesday night at the youth group service, my youth pastor, Randy, had me play it in front of the entire group. And everyone laughed. Up until then, I had never had a reaction like that in my life from a crowd that size over something I had done.
Everything in my life changed that night.
For a long time I’d wanted to be funny, and thought I was funny in my own head, but I couldn’t get people to always laugh at the jokes. But after that happened, people started looking at me as someone who is funny. Our music pastor Larry had me sing the song on our choir tour that summer, and Larry would always introduce me as “our comedian.” I liked the label, but it also terrified me. I knew that if you were a comedian, then you had to be funny. And I wasn’t always funny. Still, the feeling I got when I got laughs was the reason I never have had to do drugs—comedy is it’s own high. I started chasing the laughs. I started writing more. I performed more. I got into fine arts competitions to use it more. And I started being my truest self because I had been given confidence.
If you know me then you’ve probably heard a song or two of mine over the years. Hopefully you liked them. But I’ve played them for people who haven’t liked them. I’ve also done stand up without a guitar to drown out the hecklers. I’ve slacked off on it over the past few years, and I regret that. I’m trying to get back into performing now.
Here’s why I do it and why I think you should try to do stand up comedy, at least once at an open mic night.
1) You might be really funny but you’ve just needed the right crowd and context. Who knows what untapped talent you have that when put into the right setting can make you see a side of you that you haven’t before.
2) It makes you use a different part of your brain than you probably use the rest of the week. It helps you analyze your life in a different way, because that’s what most comedians do: talk about their own lives and what they observe. They just spin it in a comedic way.
3) It tests your courage. There’s nothing like bombing on stage in front of a crowd. So even if you do it and no one laughs, you will know how that feels, and it’s good for you. And if you have enough confidence to get back up and try it again, then that is amazing.
4) This is the follow up to number 3: It makes you fearless. If you can get up in front of a crowd of strangers and try to make them laugh, then what can’t you do? It’s even better if you are heckled because it makes you learn to think on your feet, which is a skill that you can use in every part of life. Imagine how you could be at your job with that experience in your back pocket.
5) It’s fun. I’ll admit, the time between you stepping behind the mic and the time it takes to get the first laugh is the most painful, awkward, seems-to-be-an-eternity moment of your life, but once you get that first laugh, it’s like everything breaks. And there’s no feeling like walking off stage to people clapping. You never know how much you may enjoy it.
Those are just a few of the reasons I jotted down, and there are tons more. I think everyone should try a five-minute set it at least once. I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be the worst one there either.