My first stand-up comedy set!!!

I finally did it!  I got up the nerve to get up on stage and try to make room full of strangers laugh (that are waiting to laugh).  The best part was... I didn't suck!  I had envisioned pretty much every possible disaster that could have happened.  I could freeze up and my mind go blank.  I could not get laughs at points where I expected to get laughs and then things get awkward and worse.  I could get booed off stage.  I could fall and seriously injure myself but everyone would think it's a part of the show and laugh at me while I writhe in pain.  I could say my five minute routine to a polite, but silent and generally unentertained crowd.  Or, I could kill it.  My jokes could get people to laugh.

The cons definitely outweighed the pros heavily, yet somehow I mustered up the courage to do it.  I kind of stacked the deck in my favor by inviting a bunch of friends and family to support me on this crazy stunt.  I couldn't believe how many people showed up!  My mother-in-law watched Bash so Swedie could support.  It wasn't just Swedie, though.  Over 15 people came to support me on my first show!  I was overwhelmed by the turnout for me.  It also added a bit of pressure.  How embarrassing would it be to bomb in front of all of these friends and family?

I had a scare when I got there.  I wasn't on the list.  Of course!  I had contacted the club via Facebook and asked how to sign up.  They told me to register through a website as a comedian and book a time.  English nights were Thursdays.  Cool.  I did that.  My account said I was "in line".  All seemed well.  I checked every day to see if I would be removed from the line or what place I would go.  It looked like I'd be 9th up.  So I was shocked to hear that I wasn't on the list.  There must be a mistake.  The host showed me his list and said he never heard of me.  I showed him the website and where it STILL said I was in line.

       - Oh.  Well that doesn't always work.

What?!  So Swedish.  Complicating things with another line.  What's wrong with a human being (possibly the one that directed me to the website) booking comics so there is no confusion?  Thankfully there was a comic that didn't show up.  I would have been so heartbroken if all of these people came out for nothing.  The host fit me in the other guys' slot.

I found out right away that the crowd was polite.  The main show was a practice run of a tour that some American comedians will be doing.  Some jokes hit and some jokes missed (that's why you have practice shows), but the crowd was supportive.  I didn't foresee any boos in my future.  I gained confidence as the show went on.  I knew that I should be able to remember my material.  It's just a story comprised of three stories that I've told regularly over the years.  I know where the "punchlines" are, so I should be good.  Some of the comics had routines with less structure than mine.  Some of the jokes weren't as funny as mine and the crowd surprisingly didn't yell mean things about the comedians' mothers.  This wouldn't be so bad.

The test show finished before the break.  The host was the "headliner".  He rattled off a crisp routine.  The crowd was in the palm of his hand.  I noticed him raising and lowering his voice and sharply hitting the crowd with his punchlines.  It was like a boxing match and he was putting on a clinic.  Before that night, I would have assumed something like this would intimidate me.  But I felt encouraged and inspired by this guy killing it.  Maybe it was that brand of comedy was very American and very familiar.  It was like watching a cousin of mine or something.  I knew this crowd could possibly be down for what I was doing.

I got really nervous at the break.  I knew there were only two people before me once we got back.  I went upstairs to go over it one more time with Swedie.  I was confident that I wouldn't just freeze up, but I didn't want to forget something and then the routine not make sense.  My run-through with Swedie went well.  She assured me again that I would do well.  She's so supportive and awesome.  I got more water for the dry mouth that I knew I would get.  I watched a first-timer come up and fail.  She never got to tell a final joke.  The host told her that her time was up and she gave him the microphone.  Ouff!  They even played some Oscars "get off the stage" music.  Even that didn't look so bad.  I was confident that wouldn't happen to me.  She seemed unprepared.  Like someone told her she's funny and she thought it would come easy.  I had put in a bit of work on my routine and that would be my crutch.  I wouldn't have to do that awkward "What else?" or the "No? You guys don't get it?" that comedians do when they don't get laughter.

That was the thing.  It was my first time and I felt more prepared than some of the comics that had graced the stage before.  I had been toiling over the idea of doing stand-up for years.  I've always loved stand-up routines and different styles of comedy.  I love to see the build-up of a joke and the working of a crowd.  I respect the craft.  I didn't feel that everyone had that same respect for the craft.  That's easy to say before I get my respectful ass on stage, right?

The next guy was good.  The crowd was back into it.  There were some people talking in the back.  I wondered if I would be able to hold their attention.  I don't remember ANYTHING about the guy's routine.  I remember fake laughing as my nerves went insane.  What the fuck was I thinking?  This is so stupid!  I took a swig of a beer that was on the table.  It was not my beer.  I had been drinking water for the last 30 minutes.  Whatever.  I took another swig.  I took some deep breaths and tried to go to my yoga place.  Then the host started introducing me.  I fought the urge to run to the bathroom and cry.  Then I heard:

       - Blah blah blah... JON ROLLINS!!!

My supporters screamed for me!  They let out a burst that pushed me onto the stage.  All of the nerves fell from me as I stepped on stage.  I felt free.  I moved the mic stand like a pro and delivered my routine.  The practice really paid off.  I got laughs at unexpected times.  It was good, but it threw me off of my rhythm.  I stuck with it and powered through.  I felt like my brain was racing ahead of everything in order to keep me on track.  The story I was telling was being visualized in my head as I painted it for the crowd.  I breathed and paused and worked.  It's hard to describe how wonderful it felt.  I was doing this.  I was - I am - a comedian!  My closer got a big laugh and I said good night like a pro.  I left the stage on a high that lasted through the free beer that I had with my friends (thanks Amat!).  Life was good.  I needed to do this again.  I will do this again.  This was the beginning and I respect the craft so much that I will only get better.  Enjoy my first routine below.  Until next time...


  1. Bro!!! You are nervous as shit! Hahaha I'm proud of you. Great job!

    1. Thanks Tim. The first laugh helped calm me down and get through it. I'm ready to go up again.


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