The First Gig
by: Rosy Candlin
You know how you worry about being a serial killer because you listen to true crime podcasts all day everyday? No? Just me, OK.
Well, before I discovered true crime, I used to watch and listen to comedy all day every day. Just I now worry about being a serial killer, I worried that I was the comedic voice of the future but would never be discovered because there was no way I was ever getting on a stage. That’s right, I was worried that OTHER PEOPLE would be disadvantaged by not hearing ME talk. I’m really selfless like that. There was no way I was getting on that stage though.
Despite being sure I was hilarious, I never did step on a stage. I did, however, keep consuming comedy like it was going out of fashion. Sarah Silverman made me gasp and laugh despite myself. Victoria Wood almost made me pee my pants too regularly for it to be ok. I loved these women and their comedy, they had voices that were different to mine but they said the kind of things I wanted to be saying. I still didn’t get on a stage.
Then the Depression came. When the heavy fog of depression hit, comedy felt uncomfortable. It didn’t warm my heart anymore; instead it sat heavily on my chest. I would search for Sarah Silverman from my bed, but I was embarrassed to watch her stand up routines. I can’t explain it in any other way than that comedy made me feel small and pushed me down into The Pit. I thought about getting on stage, if it was out of The Pit.
When I couldn’t watch comedy anymore, and panic attacks were part of my everyday routine, I signed up to get on stage. I missed comedy, but I felt like I needed to earn it back. It felt like I needed to prove myself to comedy. Sometimes Depression would have a voice and tell me that I wasn’t funny and comedy was too cool for me. Except I knew that it was going to help. I needed something to help. I was getting on that stage.
After signing up for my first five minutes, I had to wait six months until the day came. I started writing things that I thought were funny, stupid things about loosing my virginity for charity and breastfeeding my hamster as if it were my real child. I didn’t laugh much, but absurdity and silliness lifted the fog a little. I could go to Sarah Silverman and tell Depression that it wasn’t for fun; I was studying her. I was allowed to study comedy. I prepared to get on stage.
The night before my first five minutes, I stood at the end of my friend’s bed practicing my routine. I couldn’t get though it. Fuck. My mouth was so dry and a thought my heart was going to leave my chest. Fuck. I was tired and I wasn’t funny. I was worthless and the world was so heavy. I did not want to get on that stage.
The night came, though, and I didn’t leave my flat. The shower had become my calm place by then and I stood under the water until my insides felt numb. I wore a bright red jumper, my glasses, jeans and heeled boots. I was trying to look like a person who could function. My best friend walked me to the gig and I smoked cigarettes the whole way there. Depression told me I stank of smoke and looked like “a walking advertisement for suicide”. That’s a direct quote. I arrived at the gig and saw the stage.
I stood backstage and spoke to a comedian I had seen on Conan O’Brien. He wished me good luck, my name was called, and I walked on stage.
Those five minutes on stage are the best of my life. People were looking at me, listening to me, and laughing. I made them smile. I was beaming. After the gig the comedian that had been on the actual Conan O’Brien stage said that I had done really well and people were coming over to me to say hi. Not one of them asked me if I was coping ok or if I was overwhelmed.
Since then comedy has been the most fun. It didn’t cure depression because that isn’t how the world works, but it felt like an ice cube on a fresh burn. Comedy doesn’t give me a voice, but it lets me use the one I have. Laughing with people is powerful, important, and my favourite thing to do. I’m so glad I got on that stage.
I promise I write actual funny things over at www.thehungrygraduate.com