"...What I really really really want for myself is to know that I can go up onstage without any fears altering my performance..."
Pure Confidence, July 30, 2002
I'm ready to go home.
Two weeks out is my limit. It didn't used to be, but bakc then I lived with my parents and came home to a guy who hated my career.
What independent woman wouldn't want to book six weeks in a row?
Two weeks is my limit now, and I'm starting week three today.
I didn't go to the animal sanctuary
. At the last minute, my ole pal Troy Conrad
called me with a gig at a casino in Show Low, Arizona, on Monday night. I couldn't turn down the cash, especially since it fit perfect, snug like a bug in a rug, between a Fri-Sat in Scottsdale, Az and a Tues-Sat in Tucson, Az.
Bummer. Next time.
In LA, on Wednesday night, my agent got me on a show at the Melrose Improv. I followed a high energy act with few jokes, and while he killed I could feel myself getting defensive and terrified.
"This isn't comedy, this is dancing. I write jokes. Fuck."
Then I caught myself and began a different argument.
"It doesn't matter," I told my captive audience, me. "Do your set exactly the way you'd planned."
Recently, I was hosting on a Saturday night at StandUp New York. The first three acts were Bill Burr, Todd Lynne and Greg Fitzsimmons. Three great comics doing 15 minutes, boom boom boom. Bill killed- you will probably hear about him in the next few years. He's a white guy, talks about race without pandering and it kills with an urban audience. I watch him every chance I get. Now comes Todd Lynne. Todd just did Montreal and destroyed. He's meeting with a bunch of people in LA this week, among them my best friend, who has a development deal to produce a show.
"I have to write for his show if you work together," I told her.
Back to StandUp New York. Todd, and this is a few weeks before Montreal, so he is working his best stuff like a boxer in his prime, is killing. KILLING. Todd is a large black guy, he talks about race too, he talks about a million things and all of his material is coming from who he really is. Nothing is forced or fake. He is a comic who is at the top of his game. He gets the audience riled up by his irritations and his jokes explode like heat-seeking missiles from his harried, no-luck stance on stage.
Next up is Greg. Now Greg is a white guy, he's hilarious, but he's low energy, at least compared to Bill and Todd. I watched him from the bar while Todd was onstage. Was Greg worried, was he pacing, was he trying to get his energy up so he could overpower Todd?
Wow. If I were next, I thought, I would be flipping out. I'd be trying to figure out how to out-Todd Todd, who's one of the best comics working in New York City, which means he's one of the best comics working anywhere.
But Greg, who is so sure of himself, stayed completely within himself and when I brought him up after Todd, he started slow, stayed slow, got the crowd into his rhythem and he did great. Jim Gaffigan
does the same thing. His pacing and timing are very slow, and he doesn't alter a fucking thing, no matter who or what he follows.
That's the way to do it.
Back to the Improv in LA. I'm not low evergy, but I don't dance either. About two minutes before the host brought me up, I re-aligned myself and took the stage offensively, the way I wanted to. My set went really well, I was unrattled.
I've been listening to sets from my MiniDisc, and I wonder how much of some of my initial energy is nervousness- false energy, fake enthusiasm, like the kind of confidence that other comics get from alcohol or coke. What I really really really
want for myself is to know that I can go up onstage without any fears altering my performance. Pure confidence, like Greg or Todd or Jim or Bill. Or Wanda Sykes. Or Chris Rock.
In New York, you get to a certain level of good, and you look up the ladder and see there's another level to be reached. There's always some forward movement. It's exciting.
In August, I'm taping a special for Comedy Central, for the troops. The West Coast comics are taping their special at Miramar in San Diego, and we East Coasters are taping at some fort in New Jersey. Ten minutes, a couple thousand troops and, hopefully, some pure confidence.