Power of my Words

Some time ago (okay I mean a long time ago) I used to dabble in stand-up comedy.  Back in the day I used to have a pretty good life.  At parties I would make the rounds and crack one-liners.  It was well received and I decided to take a chance and try my hand at stand-up comedy.


I put together a loose format for an open mic at a comedy club.  I didn’t want to rely on memorizing anything because once you lose your train of thought, everything falls apart.  I remember that first night ever so clearly.  I was anxious to get up there and do my thing, but deep down in my heart I was scared to death.  The consistent theme that ran through my life was my fear of something.  I was always afraid.


I started off and got some good laughs and I started to feel as if I may fit in.  At this time, a lot of clubs would have a card on the table for the audience to rate the comedian.  I guess laughing at the jokes wasn’t validation enough for the club owners.  Most of the comments were pretty good, but someone wrote “Get rid of the bitch” and since I was the only female that performed that night, odds were it was me that they were referring to.  I was devastated.  Of course, instead of focusing on the good, I zeroed in on the one negative.


Why do we do this to ourselves?  We need to stay positive and not let the negative gain control over us.  I went home that night and could not sleep because I was so upset over one (yes, you read correctly) negative comment.  I was determined to avenge this perceived slight to my character (yes, I can be overly dramatic when I choose to be).


“I am a bitch?”  I kept repeating this question to myself over and over again.  It kept building up and then I let my defensive (and defiant) side take over.  I concluded: “Damn right I am, it took me years to cultivate this to an art form and I will be damned if I give it up now!”  I took a perceived negative and made it a positive in my life, or so I thought.  I was not going to squelch my comedic voice for anyone.  I would say anything I wanted to say regardless of the consequences.  I was going for the shot to the heart and I did not care who got hurt.  I only cared about getting a laugh and being in control of my comedic set.  I crossed a line by doing so.


I continued on for a bit performing here and there and I actually started to love hecklers.  I performed for the audience, but if someone got in my way I shot them down verbally.  I took pride in taking someone down. I even had a whole arsenal of comebacks.  They were verbal weapons that I resorted to whenever anyone got in my way.  And they worked.  After some time I found myself getting more and more combative and defensive in my comedy.  I went from going up there and having fun, to protecting myself at all costs.  Once again, I crossed a line I never wanted to cross.  I chose the wrong battle, and for what?  What was gained from any of this?  My words were aimed carefully at the target and I hit it every time.  I was intent on doing so, but I failed (or did I refuse?) to see the collateral damage that resulted from this action.


I stood back and took it all in and decided that even though I love comedy, I was doing it for all of the wrong reasons.  Comedy should not be used as a weapon of words aimed at people to shatter them or hurt them.  Comedy should be the love of joking about the silly situations that we get into, the crazy moments that pass through our lives.  It should come out of the revelation of our experiences, and to be used as a tool to resonate with others, not ridicule and demean people.  Our words wound deeply whenever they are used for the wrong purpose.  We need to not only hear what we say to others, but to see what damage we have caused from our choice of words.  This brief experience in stand-up has shown me a side of myself that was not flattering or favorable to anyone.  I took a wrong slight and made it worse by my reaction to it.  I caused willful pain to others to assuage my own.


After all, it is said that comedy is born out of tragedy and everyone can relate to that.  Everyone gets hurt in this world at least once.   I used a lot of my pain to find the humor in bad situations, but because I held onto the hurt and the anger from those situations, I could not let the laughter shine through and come out.  Yes, some lines were funny.  Some material was very biting.  However, for me it fed my anger and diminished my humor, so I started to think it may be time to stop doing standup.  Ironically, there was an audience for me that craved this type of comedy, and I was getting bookings from this.  However, there wasn’t any pleasure in my act.  I was feeding my needs only, at the cost of the audience’s experience.  That should never be a reason to do comedy.  You need the audience on your side and you need to respect them.  I had a lot to think about, but life made a decision for me.  I would like to think it was a saving grace coming at the appropriate time; a time in which I had to walk down a very painful road for myself.


I wanted to continue on (because I really did love comedy), but my health took a turn for the worse and I could not go on.  It was here that I had to let go of something I truly loved and face the immediate situation at hand.  As I was hospitalized and prepping for surgery, I had to let go of this and focus on surviving instead.  Coupled with this predicament, I lost my father at the same time.  He was my rock.  He was the one person who gave me my sense of humor.  The exception being, he handled his humor with ease and class and he never stooped to wounding others.  I always treasured that about him.


I reflect on these times and I have toyed with the idea of going back into comedy.  The exception being now my perception is different.  I want others to enjoy the experience with me.  I had to walk down this path to see my inner anger and to release it.  I needed to resolve it to grow.  As a result, I had changed so much.  My aspirations are much different now.  I still love comedy, I still love to laugh, but now the humor comes from a very different place.  It comes from deep within and there is no intent except to just make others feel better about themselves and life.   I no longer carry the hurt and anger of yesteryear.  My words are no longer used as a weapon; they are spoken in peace and come straight from my heart.  I look at each new challenge with optimism and I am no longer a combative personality.  I have learned a great lesson from all of this.  I realized stand-up never changed.  I was the one who needed to make a change and that has made the difference.


A woman now walks into a club, determined to make people laugh, but at her expense not at the expense of someone else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *