How Your Mind Can Sabotage Your Stand-up

Comedians are a curious bunch of people.  They stand on stage, usually by themselves, and say things that you would think they are totally confident in.  This can’t be further from the truth!  While a comedian is on stage, their minds take several fallacies to convince them that what they are doing, or want to do, is not worth it.

Let’s start at the beginning.  It takes a lot for comedians to just convince themselves that they are funny enough to get on stage.  A lot of us have to build up courage and talk ourselves into doing it.  That is why so many times you see drunk people on stage their first time.  They are trying to calm their nerves, but even more so, they are trying to drown the mind.  This is not the best way to go about it because you may end up thinking that is the only way you can get on stage, and that will lead to other issues.

Comedians love to go with what works.  So, if they find material that is getting laughs they may never want to put it away.  There are comedians out there still doing jokes that they wrote in the 90’s!  Why is that?  They have convinced themselves that there is nothing new that they can write that will get them laughs like what they are already doing.  This can become a big problem when their livelihood depends on it.  If you are not performing new material, bookers may see you as a stalled comedian and just stop booking you.

Sometimes we have to deal with what we want to do on stage.  Sometimes the jokes we wrote seem good, but we decide not to do it because we are sure that the people that are in the audience will not laugh at it.  I see this a lot with comedians that haven’t been doing it that long.  They have ten good minutes, but are sure that the audience doesn’t want to hear their new stuff.  This is when you have to be a performer and decide to take some risks.  The problem is that even then, subconsciously, we will wreck the joke by not selling it, or not doing the act outs, just so we can later say that we gave it a try and it isn’t working.  That is why I usually give myself a couple of times to perform a joke.  That way I can account for maybe not feeling well on stage, or me trying to sabotage myself.

Next week I will get into how we will mentally sabotage our careers.



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