I read once that Dave Chappelle once did comedy in subway stations.
Today I decided to try it.
I was in a bad mood because a) it was a cloudy day and b) because I received news the Universe would not be handing writing success and the title of Voice of a Generation to me on a silver platter, and that I would, in fact, have to work for it like everyone else. Bummer.
Anyway, here's a station by station rundown.
Here we go. This is harder than I thought. I'm having a hard time remembering my jokes, even though some of them I've been using for years.
The body language isn't as bad as I thought. Of course, I made a conscious effort to root myself before I started. My gestures are still smaller than they should be and I'm definitely physically uptight.
The hardest part is my voice. I can't make it project, and it sounds very hesitant.
Just did a quick couple bits here, as it was the end of the line and I wanted to catch the same train I got in on to save time.
I decided to do Clareview next and then tried to work out logistically how I could minimize my wait time by skipping stations and then catching trains going in the oppoisite direction to do the stations I missed (instead of working my way down the line in one direction). That sentence made as much sense as my plan did. But I think the idea was sound.
As I rode to Clareview my stomach was churning. What possessed me to attempt this stupid idea anyway? Is this REALLY going to improve my stage presence? I did two stations already; I could go home now and I'd have tried it. The rest will be more of the same, right?
Right or wrong, I finish what I start.
God help me.
Another quick in and out. My voice is getting better. The outlying stations have less people on the platform. I don't know if that helps or hurts.
This time I positioned myself differently. I'm experimenting with different ways of standing relative to the flow of traffic, but once I've picked a spot, the goal is to stay there, regardless of how people react or don't react to me.
I thought people would think I'm weird for doing this, and I am getting a few weird looks. But mostly, I'm being completely ignored. I'm terrified of the way people will think of me and for the most part people don't really seem to give a shit.
I'm part relieved, part annoyed.
There's a lesson in this somewhere, but damned if I can figure it out.
Okay, I'm starting to get the hang of it. I don't feel at all self-conscious anymore.
Next station, I'm upping the ante.
Tried a higher-traffic flow area. Still not many people.
I'm nearly out of jokes.
On the platform I went into some of my MC schtick. "Any celebrations tonight?"
One woman turned around and said--not unkindly: "No."
I was so used to being ignored, I was completely thrown off stride.
I want to get to the point where I don't care. Whether there's people or not, whether they ignore me or not, I want to have the same commitment to what I'm doing. I want to be able to react to what's going on without having it affect me.
The downtown stations have more people, so now I'm nervous again. I'm crossways to the flow of traffic.
Nobody gives a shit.
This is bull. I'm doing my A material.
I've run out of jokes. I do an impression of the Rock. "Finally, the Rock has come back to Grandin Station."
I'm starting to realize how much of our social behaviour is regulated by reading cues from other people. Because people are actively ignoring me, I can't actually tell how loud my voice is.
I'm losing my sense of what is acceptable social behaviour. What happens when I jump up and down like this? What happens when I wave my arms wildly?
I am also exhausted. I've been down here less than two hours, but it feels like forever.
I need to get out of here.
Instead of waiting for the next train, I take the stairs, intending to use the pedway system to get to the next downtown station since they're so close together. Instead, I get turned around and find myself in...
Damn it to Hell.
Screw it. Time to start singing.
"Her name was LOLA
She was a SHOWGIRL..."
I hate the sound of my own voice. I'm exhausted and want to go home.
I break up the change, by breaking into some dance moves. I'm trying to put energy into it, pretending I'm onstage at show 235 of 256 date tour. Every show deserves 100%--even if nobody here asked for a show or even knows there is one going on.
I'm not even thinking any more. Is it me or have their been more attractive women riding the LRT today. If I ever see them again...Actually, if I see them again, they probably won't even remember me. I'm the loudest person in the station, but I'm also effectively invisible.
I finish my showcase set. This took a little over two hours, but I feel as exhausted as I did after twelve-hour shifts when I was working hospital security.
I go upstairs and out into the world.
The sun has come out
I'm not in a bad mood anymore.