Getting used to hangin’ with fearless and funny people
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Theory says the younger the child, the better the opportunity to teach Little Susie to ski.
Simple logic: Kids are fearless little buggers.
I must be stuck in a perpetual Freaky Friday because I’m becoming quite the fearless little bugger myself. If this means I’ll start looking younger, a la Benjamin Button, then sign me up and set my hair for the week.
It’s true I’ve tested my fear levels more in my thirties than I did in my twenties. I’ve rafted Class IV rapids, kind of a big deal for a kid who was always scared of jumping off the high dive. I’ve had a python snake wrapped around me while it’s back end crept down my jeans. And I’ve hiked up to Devil’s Causeway in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, where my fear of heights was at an all-time test. Funny what a man can talk a woman into doing.
And vice versa.
Of all the experiences I’ve had since turning the big 3-0, though, the most gut wrenching, make-me-sweat-bullets test has been stand-up comedy. When I look back on my first time doing stand-up, I must’ve been out of my mind. The gig was with the now-defunct Laugh Your Aspen comedy troupe. My first-ever bit was about three minutes long at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen. Big time.
And the longest three minutes of my life.
The sold-out crowd of about 500 paid to laugh, and that is no joke. I literally thought I might vomit on the front row.
That probably would’ve been funnier than my actual bit.
Flash forward about 2 1⁄2 years. I can’t say I’ve morphed into a top-rated comedian, selling out arenas, partying at the Playboy Mansion, and making movies with Judd Apatow. But I’m still willing to take a shot at trying to make people laugh.
Even if it still feels like the scariest thing I’ll ever do.
I gave it another try as a special guest at the First Fridays comedy event at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale. I joined Mark Thomas, mastermind between Comedy Mercenaries, and a line-up of comedians who humble me with their gentle mix of bravery and cynicism.
Hanging out back stage with real-life comedians is surreal for me. Mostly because I suspect I’m really on a P-List celebrity version of Punk’d. The camaraderie between comedians is hard to explain, but I can best compare it to hanging out with a family of really funny people during the holidays. Except it’s after the special eggnog has been served and before the pageantry of present opening. There’s teasing, mockery, drinking, moral support, breathing exercises, stomach cramping and sarcasm.
And that’s before anyone starts the show.
All jokes aside, there is actually quite a bond that forms between comedians. They offer constructive criticism to each other when the question of whether the audience will think a joke is funny. They can relate when stage fright takes hold like a needy boyfriend, minutes before the show starts feeding fears of passing out, vomiting or wetting oneself.
All you can think is, “It’s not like I’m going to die out there.”
I can only relate the adrenaline rush from stand-up to rafting through big water. It can be scary going in but once I make it through, I’m ready to do it again.
The same can be said about Disney’s Mad Tea Party ride.
I’ve only worked up to about five minutes on stage but after Friday’s show, I’m ready for more. Maybe something like 12 or 15 minutes. The real challenge would be to try an open mic night in front of a crowd of strangers. At past shows I’ve always enjoyed the comfort of figuring at least my friends in the audience will laugh – thanks to Liz, Katy, Janelle, and Gus – at my jokes. Who knows if my Facebook quiz on “Top 5 Sesame Street Characters I’d Like to Schtoop” is even funny to people outside of the friends previously mentioned.
Cookie Monster loves chocolate. Count von Count nibbles on necks. And Big Bird, well, you know what they say about the size of a bird’s beak.
To misquote Ray Parker Jr., “I ain’t afraid of no bad jokes.”
April E. Clark hopes to see “Funny People” while on vacation in Vermont. And enjoy a diet of ice cream, lobster and cheese. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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