A beautiful thing about aging is that the passing of time necessitates the passing of opinions, whether the transition is positive or negative, whether on purpose or not. This allows multiple perspectives if you’re introspective enough to remember them or write them down.
I have been working on a tidy comedy set to perform on stage next Thursday at an open mic in Philadelphia. The same city where I performed comedy for the first time in my life. I have already logged more hours working on this set than I did that first time, and with more knowledge and information at my disposal, I honestly have no idea how it is going to go.
I am cannibalizing former bits to bulk up this new set. Not just because it will make this performance the comedy equivalent of bowling on a bumper lane, but also because in the weeks leading up to October sixth, I have come up with maybe three ideas that weren’t embarrassing. I am saved by the understanding that the number of people who have seen this refurbished material’s predecessor is so low that the likelihood of a repeat audience member is immaterial.
While there is some merit to the idea that I am simply rusty from not writing standup for over four years, I keep thinking about my how my perspective has changed since then. I keep trying to remember what I set out to do with my comedy. From here, it seems as though I had drive and ambition that is completely absent now. I am doing it now as a novelty. A way to pass the time while I don’t spend any money (minus the two drinks you have to buy to merely exist in a club holding a free open mic (though, I am not above collecting empty glasses from a bus tub and putting them on the table in front of me)).
There are of course some things that remain the same. Most importantly, I enjoy making people laugh, and people enjoy laughing. But from this side of the four years I have no idea if I am capable of still doing that to a group of strangers. There is an art to it that I feel I can’t pay attention to without having cut my teeth again.
I am going to perform again, and I am going to have a fun time. And I promise to never perform a joke about writing jokes, no matter how often my brain offers it as a suggestion.