One of the most extreme things I’ve ever wanted to do was perform stand up comedy. The thought of it terrified me. I’ve hosted television shows and have done some acting, so compared to others my nerves were a little more controlled. But, something about performing a stand-up set scared me more than almost anything. My other thought was that of empowerment. If I can do that, I can do almost anything.
So, I signed up for the Jeff Justice Comedy Class. A six-week course where you learn the basics of comedy, write jokes, and then perform your four-minute set to a sold-out crowd. The second week came around where we stood up on stage in front of our class, and performed our jokes we were to prepare. I was absolutely terrified. What if no one laughed? What if I was absolutely terrible at this? I listened in class, followed the homework, and studied the how-to of joke writing. But, that didn’t mean I was going to be funny. I said my first joke and got a few chuckles. The teacher, Jeff Justice, was awesome. He gave us feedback on how to tweak the joke or switch the words to make it funnier. It worked. My so-so joke turned into something I said on stage and knew was funny.
The weeks flew by and we were at the last of the six-week course. Our sold-out show was only a few days away. I had sent in my final jokes and Jeff and his team had reviewed them and given their feedback. Could I really do this? Not only do a four-minute stand-up set, but it really hit me that I was performing my jokes. Jokes about my life, things that were close to heart, and things embellished for comedy.
Instagram Story Moments Before The Show
Memorizing things has never been easy for me. This was a true test. We weren’t able to come up to stage with any notes of any kind. Everything had to be memorized. The night of the show, I see I am 14th on the set list. My nerves are nervous. My classmates before me are killing it and now, the 13th person is on stage. They clap and I hear, coming to the stage please welcome Renee Rayles! Here we go, it’s now or never. Please don’t blank, please don’t blank. I get on stage and do what we had practiced so many times, our routine. I did it. I nailed it. I remembered it. It was the power of practice. I had performed this routine so many times to my peers, it was becoming second nature. Once, I had told a couple of my jokes I started to slow down and take it in. I gave more of a performance and delivery. Then, my last joke. It was over! I did it! I am almost crying typing this now as it was such a huge moment of accomplishment.
It’s only been a couple of weeks since my first stand up gig, and I have to say I am ecstatic that I took the class and performed. My first acting audition after my stand up or “graduation” show, I booked. I was waiting to go into the room for the audition. I get inside, and it’s 12 people staring at me and a camera. I thought, I performed a four minute stand up routine to 150 people! I got this. Get your nerves in check. It’s exactly what I did. I took a deep breath, slowed down, and made a connection with the camera and myself.
Many people always tell me, oh I couldn’t try that. I couldn’t do improvisation or perform stand up comedy. Here’s the thing I’ve learned over and over again. Everyone is learning in classes, just like you. You are vulnerable and that’s what can be scary. The thing is, everyone is and it’s what bonds you. You see people without their shell. Going up to say my first joke in class was so embarrassing. After we had all done it, it felt good. Most all of us had those nerves. It’s what made our class bond. It’s why we can ask each other what they think of a joke we are working on and why they can give us real feedback. As we get older our ego’s get in front of our decision making. We are afraid to fail, but want to fly. What I’ve learned in all of these classes, is that being vulnerable is a way to learn and grow. If you aren’t growing your stagnant. Growing takes some growing pains and being in a place that can feel awkward, weird, and not in control. So get uncomfortable and try something new! You’ll grow more than you ever knew you could.
For more on Jeff Justice’s comedy course click here. I am not a paid sponsor.