There are few instances when grabbing a microphone and talking about feces is rewarded.
Itâ€™s this fact that lured me to stand up comedy. I like to talk about poop.
Itâ€™s a trait that I inherited from my roommate, and while the residents of our house think itâ€™s the best topic ever, many people donâ€™t.
Unless, of course, you are a stand up comic. As Dickey Bill Wagner, one of Fort Collinsâ€™ comedy scene regulars, told me, no real comic is complete without at least one poop joke and one penis joke.
I arrived at the Alley Catâ€™s Wednesday comedy night armed with both â€¦ kind of.
Before I really get into it, let me say that I did not plan or rehearse a routine. I thought it would be â€œcoolâ€ or more â€œgenuine,â€ but it ended up being a bad idea.
I was excited for this. As much as I hate to admit it, I like attention, and it seemed like a good idea to go along with this weekâ€™s entertainment theme of comedy. My co-columnist, Kate Bennis, didnâ€™t feel the same way. She refused to participate in this weekâ€™s adventure.
I understand why, though. Sheâ€™s not funny. At all. Kate Bennis is not funny.
At least she was there to support me when I showed up at 7 p.m. ready and willing to put my name on the list of that nightâ€™s comedians.
I must have looked like the fresh-meat that I am when I wandered into the Alley Catâ€™s lower level. In the room was a microphone, a set of speakers and a mostly-hardened group of comics. At first they ignored me.
So I stood there tapping my heels until I finally worked up the confidence to announce my presence by coughing. Erik Lindstrom, whoâ€™s been running comedy night at the Alley Cat for the last 6 weeks, spun around and asked, â€œYou here for comedy night?â€
It was at that moment that I locked myself in. I was committed. I had to perform.
Letâ€™s revisit: I didnâ€™t plan a routine. The implications of my lazy strategy began to sink in fast.
I sat down and realized that I had nothing to say. The stress kicked in. Sweat started to gather on the back of my neck. I imagined myself a skewered pig roasting over an open flame.
My roommate reminded me that Iâ€™d have a couple people to watch and learn from. I could even steal from them if I wanted to because thatâ€™s what comics do.
Theft is part of the art.
I began to relax. My nonchalant attitude returned. No worries. I had this.
And then Lindstrom walked over and told me Iâ€™d be first up.
He grabbed the mic, announced the event, told a couple jokes of his own and then announced my performance.
I walked to the microphone unsure of myself. I could feel my cheeks blushing, and when I pressed the microphone to my lips all I could hear was the sound of my mouth breathing.
And then something glorious happened. I opened my mouth and words came out.
They werenâ€™t forced or stuttered but natural and confident.
I stuck to what Iâ€™m comfortable talking about: poop, penises and sex. They are the three funniest things in my life and it showed.
I wonâ€™t go into the details of my set. Those who know me know that I like to talk about gross and utterly depraved stuff, but the strangers in the audience didnâ€™t. Honestly, I surprised myself with what I was willing to say.
At first the set was funny, or at least the audience thought so. People were laughing at my crudest jokes, and I was having fun telling them.
About halfway through I began to run out of gas. The lack of preparation was starting to catch up to me. I could feel the crowd running from me, wanting to hide and not be sought by my boring ramble.
I realized that I wasnâ€™t just cracking jokes. I was actually asking people how much they liked my personality. At first I was a hit, and then I tired on my new friends. I went from being the happiest man on earth to the loneliest.
So I gave up the mic and sat back down. I expected to be a huge failure, so it was comforting to know that yeah, I am actually a little bit funny. Next time â€“â€“ I think there might be a next time â€“â€“ theyâ€™ll like me for the whole 10 minutes.
Columnists Kate Bennis and Nic Turiciano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.