Bricking it. – By @MadStandish
By Maddy Standish
I’m absolutely bricking it.
We’ve been doing a stand-up comedy course for the last few weeks. Optional – but run at school for those who wanted to do it. I said yes. It was well-sold (though not by Marc showing his own set, sorry), and the promise of funnier copywriting, better presentation skills and just being funnier were too good to miss.
This isn’t something I would have ever considered. In the past, I liked to speak in front of people. I liked to be the centre of attention. A class clown who liked to get the last word in. As I got older, it changed. More nervous. Always self-conscious. Hyper-aware and anxious. It’s gone through stages; I used to shake. Constantly. Vibrating hands that got a whole lot worse if any nerves kicked in. That doesn’t happen anymore, except when I’m in front of everyone.
In my SCABs, I bang on about how the school changes you. I do feel better in so many ways and one is my confidence. In the beginning, I hated it. My stomach dropped every time I realised I would have to be standing in front of them all.
Now, it doesn’t feel as bad. In my head, it doesn’t feel bad at all. It feels fine. Feels normal. Not the faintest feeling of “what if” or “they’ll hate it and me”, it doesn’t cross my mind. I know what I’m going up there to say and I’ve worked on it. Feeling good, feeling confident.
Then, I go up. It’s not a freezing situation. It’s a sweaty one. Fingers trembling and
Desperately seeking eye contact. Person. Good. Floor. Bad. Wall. Bad. Shoes. Bad. Person. Good. Laptop. Bad.
On Tuesday, I thought things were fine. I went up, with my scribbled notes in my palm. I spoke. No one laughed. “You’re not projecting”, he says. Go again. Bigger voice, this time. The heart isn’t in it. Just make it sound convincing it.
I finished and he commented on my anxiety. “Trust the process”, he says, “It’ll be better when you know your lines and your soul’s in it”.
It felt really shitty. I thought I had been in it. I knew the set but looked down for reassurance and threw myself off. He was right, though. I asked afterwards what I could do to fake it because he’d already suggested that I pretend the audience were my best mates – but they already were, so that didn’t phase me. He told me to fake it. Alright. I’ll know it next time.
We got an extra class the next day. Wasn’t going to go as I had work to do. And honestly? I didn’t want to. It didn’t feel fun anymore.
I went. I watched. I supported. Then, I decided I could do it. It was all in my head. The anxiety and my words. My voice projected and I made sure I looked at all my peers in the eyes as I cracked the jokes.
It wasn’t great.
Afterwards, he told me, “Let’s have another round of applause for Maddy.”
“She is the most anxious person in the group. She’s come so far. You’re not quite there and I can see how hard you’re trying. This will set you free”
I did try so hard. The tears welled in my eyes and my hands trembled as I excused myself to the toilets to bawl.
I don’t want to perform on Sunday. I hate it. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m in front of friends and this is fine! It really feels fine. My stomach stays where it is and my hands are mostly still. Every week, I present. Every week it feels better.
Why the fuck does it still end horribly? My emotions crescendo and I feel myself tipping. Eyes prick and give me away. Emotions are rank. Getting betrayed by them is just grim.
The more we do something, the easier it’s supposed to get. It doesn’t feel like that. It feels fucking horrible. And I have to do it. At least in a week, it’ll be over.
The copy scores 92.5 in the Flesch Reading Ease test