Sometimes I Have Good Ideas — Others, I Have Two Ex-Husbands

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I hadn’t had a drop to drink since late September of last year, yet I found myself sitting there at with a second vodka tonic in front of me. I’d be lying if I hadn’t thought about excusing myself to go to the bathroom make a run for the front door on multiple occasions. I was ready to pull a serious fugitive move, running from my own fear.

But I couldn’t. My instructor was sitting at the table with me and on my left was my friend Kirstin. The room was filled, my name was on a list, and there was pretty much nothing left to do other than wait for my impending demise.

I was going to fuck this up completely. And by fuck it up, I mean if they hauled my mauled remains off to the comedic morgue, no one would be able to identify the body.

I was at my first ever open mic for standup comedy. And death was certain. And by death, I mean no one would laugh and after my brief five-minute set, I’d walk through the bar and people would avert their eyes and turn to people next to them to start fake conversations in order to keep from catching my eyes and saying word one about how far to the left I ranked on the continuum of Suck to Epic.

Finally (she says, with no sense of relief but an inexplicable and overwhelming impending doom-fueled pallor), they called my name. Or part of it, at least (Napoletano — na-pol-i-tawn-oh — is a mouthful). I walked up, took the mic. And out of sheer fear, I shared that this was my first ever open mic.

And the room broke out into a surely-Benedict-Cumberbatch-just-walked-in-the-back-of-the-room-and-I-didn’t-see-him kind of way.

But he hadn’t. It was for me. See, I had never once for a moment thought that I was sitting in a room filled with people who were just like me — ones who had themselves been two vodka tonics in preceding a giant OH SHIT moment. I relaxed. I began.

They laughed.

And as I finished, the applause was equally as loud as it had been when I’d started. People’s eyes didn’t avert as I walked through the room and several even stopped me to say that — damn — that was awesome for your first time up at the mic!

I eventually headed home and listened to the recording my friend Kirstin had made of my terror-fueled four minutes and something else awesome happened.

I didn’t hate it. In fact, I kinda liked most of it.

So I went back this past Sunday and did it again at the Second City Sunday morning open mic. And I killed it. I mean, I heard laughs that I only hear on HBO and Comedy Central standup specials. And they were all for me. And now, I wake up every day with the fear that I’m never going to be able to make people laugh like that again.

Isn’t it funny how one conquered fear gives way to another one of those green-eyed fear gremlin motherfuckers? It’s as if they’re all in a queue at the DMV of your soul, lined up to jack with you until the end of time. I will spend hours, days, weeks, months, and years upon years beating myself up using the fear of the unknown as a club. Then when I get the ladyballs to stare down one of those green assholes and say, “Back up, bitch! Sit down and eat your Wheetabix!” **

**I’ve never had Wheetabix but I am fully confident my fear trolls subsists on a diet of these and RC Cola.

Back to the ladyballs — when I tell those Wheetabix bastards to back off, another one pops up like a cosmic game of Whack-a-Mole and the bitch of it is that I’m never even going to win any of those tickets I can redeem for a Hello, Kitty blender or a giant pencil that won’t even fit into my mom’s Datsun.

Life’s a big ass game of Whack-a-Mole, and usually a lot less fun. But there are a few things I’ve figured out along the way, and some have to do with this new foray into standup comedy. Others…well, they just simply ARE.

  • Sometimes I have good ideas. Others, I have two ex-husbands. One’s good and the other one is a funny way of looking at something that isn’t good. Life’s a lot better when I find a sense of humor about my situation.
  • Serial entrepreneurs — what do they eat for breakfast? Listening is important. We miss more than we catch. But if we listen to those little fear trolls too often, we’ll never know what it feels like to eat them for breakfast. They’ll just keep eating us.
  • Just because you don’t think a joke is funny doesn’t mean it’s not a joke. If you’re building your life and business, much less a standup routine, based on the handful of people who decry that something you say or do isn’t funny or right, you’re going to be building for the middle of the road. The dashed yellow line isn’t where things happen (or get funny). When you pick a lane and accelerate, that’s where things become hilarious.
  • Sharpen your point of view. Think about the people in this world you love and the ones you love to hate. You can say why — and with clarity — why you love or loathe them. Again, the only thing you’re going to feel on that dashed center line is the THUMP of a bumper sending you into oblivion. Say what you think and feel. Back it up. And yeah, some people won’t like it, but wah-wah-blah-blah-blah. Some people don’t like anything. A point of view is a gift to your customers, your audience, your lover(s), your friends, and most importantly YOU. It’s your WHY. Spoon that luscious beast and have baby oil-covered on plastic sheets kind of conversations with it all the damn day long. They’ll be the most important conversations you ever have.

And finally, I have a news flash: you’re going to fuck up. In standup, it’s called bombing. I know full well it’s going to happen to me and it is going to suck longer and harder than a Dyson. Which is a brand that really should be sponsoring my dating life, but I digress. Let yourself fuck up and stop being such a dick to yourself.

There’s laughter and greatness waiting on the other side of that Red Rover clothesline of fear trolls standing across from you. And if you’re waiting to be good enough to bust through them, I’m afraid you’re going to be waiting a terribly long time.

You’re good enough right now. Your job — is to become better.

24 comments
JoyDestiny
JoyDestiny

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LoveSpell2
LoveSpell2

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LoveSpell2
LoveSpell2

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RCarlton
RCarlton

"I am good enough right now!" Thank you for another needed bitch slap! You are always on time, lady!

melaniward
melaniward

Erika,


Love it - my favorite line is "Isn’t it funny how one conquered fear gives way to another one of those green-eyed fear gremlin motherfuckers?" True and painful and a good reminder to stop thinking they will go away. They only will if you stop living. Good luck next time out:)


Melani

KellyTwigger
KellyTwigger

One of your best, my dear.  I'll be checking you out next time I'm in Chi-town.  

LoveSpell2
LoveSpell2

 My Husband Cheated and i put a STOP using Magick
Powerful Love Spells, Revenge Of The Raven Curse,Break Up Spells,
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Fertility Spell
Pregnancy Spell
Revenge/Death Spell
Magic Spells
Protection Spells
Curse Removal,
Remove Negative Energy
Removing Curse Spells.
Witch Doctor,
Spiritual Cleansing,
African Witchcraft
Mobile: +27849618563
Email:quick.revengespell@yahoo.com

Dave Meir
Dave Meir

Ericka - great post. My son and a group of his buddies formed an improv group when they were in college - it was awesome - but I could never figure out how they could do it. Always blew me away. (Thinking on my feet is not my specialty.) Love your stuff here. Tried finding your site earlier today - guess what - it doesn't come up when you type in Janet Nepoletano. Have a wonderful week.

TomNosal
TomNosal

Great success Erika.


I used to have a fear of standing in front of a room of strangers and speaking.


Now after 60+ speeches, my only fear is "What if there are not enough people to hear my story?"



Shoegal1328
Shoegal1328

BRAVA!!!! Thank you for this awesome post!  I need to keep reading it over and over - I am enough!


ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg

I've been waiting to read this post. I knew you would eventually share you experiences from that first night. It was worth the wait. Well done on facing your fears, nice job on a solid first set, and two points for getting laughs.

Latest blog post: Go Team

AlainToussaint
AlainToussaint

Hi Erika, That was a great post and I could never do that. Last week when I voted, I had a seriously hard time speaking to the voting poll personnel (we have an election in Quebec) because I was too nervous and in such time, I loose my ability to speak coherently.


Alain

LauriRottmayer
LauriRottmayer

Yay! This is awesome! I have doing stand up comedy on my goals list and I'm a big ass chicken. I will be thinking about it a little more now. Way to go, Erika! :-)

Latest blog post: Meet Me at CoffeeCON!

JosephRatliff
JosephRatliff

But Erika... a Dyson sucks twice as hard as any other vacuum... so how could anyone do worse? :)  LOL
(hook reaching out and pulling me by the neck off stage)


NFL running backs gain 2, 5, rarely more than 6 yards at a time... they fight for it.  The best gain a TOTAL of 48,000 FEET in their entire careers spanning 10, 12, 15 plus years.


Be the running back.  Understand you won't gain much each time... but once in awhile you'll break out and win a game with a run, if you keep grinding.  You only need one break out run at the right time to become Unpopular. :)

NicoleGermond
NicoleGermond

I'm not building a business and I'm not trying stand-up comedy, but I recently had a pretty traumatic experience with some mental health issues. I am in the process of trying to decide how to take the first steps to moving forward with my life and reading this really inspires me to tell my fears to Fuck off and sometimes I need to do things that are going to be good for me, despite how difficult they might be.

Thank you for always putting your thoughts down in such I positive light. They are an inspiration to all of us.

Nicole

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@NicoleGermond  And thank YOU for reading, Nicole. Mental health -- for all of us -- requires bravery and it's scary as hell. Damn straight.

AlainToussaint
AlainToussaint

@NicoleGermond  Hi Nicole, if I have something to say about mental health issues, it's because I had severe issues (a PTSD) and it took the last 3 to 4 years to treat (I've been having the issue since 2005) but I'm doing fine now with a better outlook and that is because I had a good psychiatrist.


I wish you to get a good psychiatrist which will provide you with a good treatment choice. It help greatly.


Best wishes.


Alain

cabocalla
cabocalla

My fears are far more snooty. I saw those fuckers at Whole Foods drinking kombucha.


You give me a heart-on, Erika. xo

KiraMarieHays
KiraMarieHays

Dying at "lady balls" and all the sass and sarcasm! You're my favorite blogger and i totally mean that!

WilliamCMurray
WilliamCMurray

No doubt you killed it! And it's fantastic to taste that mouthful of success to fuel your foot to slam on the gas pedal and keep going.

Now did I ever tell you the one about...

=)