Well, I’ll go on ahead and tell on myself.
I broke one of my own cardinal rules of comedy: I brought notes on-stage.
I've been anti note my entire career. Urging colleagues and students to instead assiduously prepare in advance, go on stage, and be present in the moment, come what may. But thanks to the pandemic, I can count the number of live shows I’ve done this year. I’ll round it up to not enough. That contributed to me feeling rusty, and like I needed a back up. My set list.
So, last night I had two live shows. For the first one I brought up my set list and referred to it periodically. The show was OK. But I could’ve been better.
In between shows I remembered one of my favorite lines from the movie Black Panther. T’Challa and M’Baku were fighting. T’Challa was losing. And his mother, Queen Ramonda shouts, “Show him who you are!"
What elevates comedy writing to standup comedy is the transition from the page to the stage. A set list is a suggestion. It's an outline; not the whole story. Bringing that story to life requires trusting oneself. Setting aside the fear (or embracing it, depending on your point of view), makes room for connection, community, and comedy.
So, second show, I left my set list behind and I showed them who I am.
It was fire.