Thursday, January 7, 2010

I bet you didn't know this about me...

I was reading Elana's blog post today, and like the repressed trauma that it was, a memory surfaced. One very awful night. So let me take you back about ten years...

That's me. At least it was ten years ago. You see, I've always had a passion for writing in all its forms. It started in my middle school creative writing class, turned to poetry in high school, I earned extra $$ in college by writing songs for my various bands, and finally, I turned to fiction writing about five years ago.

But there's one type of writing I always wanted to do but didn't dare try. Until one night...

1999 - I'm sitting up in the sound loft of the firehouse (a way cool bar in St. Louis that was literally a firehouse from the 1800's complete with horse stalls, candle chandeliers, and ghosts. Unfortunately it is no more.) The lead guitarist in my band also worked as a sound board tech so he invited me to the show that night because he knew I was crazy about the band - Save Ferris. Ska was cool then, people, so I don't want to hear it!

Anyway, so I'm sitting on top of this plattform literally looking down on the stage. I'm in heaven. I've never been so close to one of my idols before. Monique just finished up the first song, Come on Eileen, when she launched into this standup routine. I was in awe. Not only was she a great singer but she was friggin' hilarious. She had the the whole bar trembling in laughter (and it wasn't just from the Red-Headed-Slut-Shots on special). The laughter, the energy, it was intoxicating. I wanted it for myself.

That's when my stand up comedy obsession began. I watched all the greats, went to all the shows, and finally, wrote down my own bits. But where would I find a captive audience?

Fast forward to 2000. My band was playing at a small bar on the Delmar Loop called The Red Sea. It was traditionally a Reggae bar but they had a few nights a month where they hired out local rock bands. Usually these night were on the slow side so the majority of the people there were already loyal fans. So I thought I was safe.

I'd just finished the first song and the applause had died down. I cleared my throat and launched into my "act". Afterall, it had worked for Monique, so why not me?

Um...because I wasn't any good.

The room stood in stunned silence (and not the good kind). Even my best friend Kelly sat in wide-eyed horror from her barstool. Jesse, the bass player, hissed in my ear, "What the &%$^ are you doing?"

My face, flaming hot. My throat dry. I took a swig of water. "Um, I was just talking."

"They don't pay you to talk," this time from the lead guitarist. "%^%$ sing!"

So that was it. My one (and thank goodness only) attempt at standup. I still have the itch, though, to make people laugh. Only now, I've discovered I can fulfill it with my writing. And I'm actually good at it. It's such a high, to hear that someone chuckled over something in my book. Last week, I was describing a change I'd planned to make to my agent he laughed outloud on the phone. The week before I had my SCBWI chapter giggling during a reading. Such a rush. I live for it. I crave it.

So while the stage may not be for me, the pages are. Finally, I've found my niche!

So now I ask you, reader/writer friends, how did you find your niche?


  1. I LOVE this story. Plus, I really love Save Ferris. One of my all time favorite bands.

    By the way, my Word Verification word is BINHOUND. Is that like a person who scours the sales bins at a thrift store? I kind of like it.

  2. Oh my gosh! You had my palms sweating for you! lol! I'm glad you found your niche!

  3. What a great story!! I love that picture of you, and I bet if we were in the same room, you'd have me rolling with your "act."

  4. I had a couple college profs who pointed me in the right direction.

    The first was a kindly little detective fiction teacher, all smiles and very sweet, until she figured you out. If she liked you, thought you showed promise, you got to see the vinegar and sass. Loved her.

    The second was my fiction writing prof at SIU. I'm one of the lucky few who fell into a class with a good prof who could write, who cared enough about your work to point out the flaws, and cared enough about his students to find the right balance of honesty and compassion.

    Rare thing, that.

  5. Lol, that's an awesome story. And that's and awesome rock star picture!

  6. Oh no - great story, but oh no! I totally give you props though for trying to do stand-up - and I have heard great comedians say that everybody bombs - so you are in good company!

  7. I live in Johnny Carson's hometown. Each year it plays host to a comedy festival in his honor. There's an amateur night.

    I'm just saying...:-)