All posts for the month May, 2014

Stand-Up to Anxiety

Published May 11, 2014 by anxietyofanactress

In August 2012 I spent the majority of a Sunday afternoon on the internet as I was determined to seek a comedy open mic night I could perform at that following week.

The day before, on the Saturday I had made a fool of myself performing in a contest in Hatfield called….Can you guess?  Yep… “HERTFORDSHIRE’S GOT TALENT”.  After waiting to hear whether I had got through to the next round and when I say waiting, I mean WAITING….I had to hang around for a at least a few hours to be told that I wasn’t talented.  Of course I wasn’t literally told that but that’s how it came across despite all the other acts being under 16 years old and ALL singers…..I was the only Comic.  I was glutton for punishment!

Surprisingly I felt slightly disappointed because I hadn’t got through, but I also know that was down to my high expectations of the competition (I have always had high expectations in life and it has been a huge issue for me to deal with) so when I found out I was not going further in the contest I decided to use the experience as a positive.  I eventually accepted that it was the wrong sort of showcase for me and obviously I was out of sort being the only adult delivering a fairly sophisticated 5 minute set.  It took me to the next stage of my comedy journey and on Tuesday of that week I ended up performing at the Lion’s Den Comedy Open Mic night in Soho London.  I was petrified.

When I discovered the Lion’s Den on the Time Out website I was really excited, the blurb read friendly and I liked the fact that the event was especially aimed at new acts.  I arrived at the door of the venue which was Bar Rumba (the comedy club was held downstairs within the establishment) around 5.30pm and if I am honest I was just planning to go as an audience member.  I was nervous on arrival and rambled on in a stutter of verbal anxiety to the organiser whose name was Tim.  I explained I was there to observe but would possibly perform at another time.  I forget if I mentioned to him my anxiety but never the less Tim and then another guy called Richard who ink stamped your hand on entry persuaded me to perform that night.  Oh boy………….

The format of performing was simple.  You wrote your name on a piece of paper, put it in a hat and then the MC would pull names out at random during the course of the night.  While I sat in the audience waiting to hear my name being called but watching the other acts too, I remember feeling accepted and every few seconds I would forget how nervous I was at the fact I would be performing at any moment.

I re-capped the set I was going to perform in my head and hoped and prayed I wouldn’t have a memory blank and then collapse on stage in rage of anxiety and panic.  My name was eventually called and I got up from my seat and walked to the stage.  Straight away I went into my stage persona and although I was terrified I sensed the audience’s warmth for me and in a nut shell I rocked it!!

All acts get 5 minutes which isn’t a long time but for someone like me who has the anxiety issues that I have, back then it seemed like a 100 years.  Two years later 5 minutes is just not enough time for me to shine….I performed at the Funny Women Awards recently and again you only get 5 minutes to showcase but I was so nervous and didn’t warm up into my stage persona until around minute 3.  Gutted!  obviously I haven’t got through to the next round of that contest but I know what the issue is and I have to keep gigging to overcome it.  I lose faith in myself in the beginning of my set, I doubt my ability because as I stated earlier on in this post I have too high expectations on things and that also includes myself.

This week I have 3 gigs so that means 3 opportunities to train my mental state into positivity.  I have proven I can turn negative experiences into positive “next steps”, I just have to work on my crazy self-doubt way before I step onto that stage. 

Wish me luck!