Prescription for Disaster

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The stand up comedy class of despair and sadness

That. Was. AWFUL. It was horrible. That was so bad that it was absolutely hor-awful. That class was a dumpster fire of confidence shattering atrocity.

It started out alright, despite me getting more lost inside the building than in finding it. Some sort of BBC music studio with a pack of teenage girls outside trying to get a glimpse of someone famous – that clearly wasn’t me. They all watched silently as I meekly wove my way up to the doorman to ask if this was the right place, I was here for a class. Which class? he shouted. I didn’t want to say in front of all of those people. They might think I’m trying to be funny or something equally humiliating yet… oddly accurate.

"Um...I’m here for the 6:30 class."

"Which one? The dance class? The singing class? Or the stand-up comedy class?"

Did he have to yell?

I was ushered in and brought to a waiting room upstairs. A small triangular room with six brightly painted doors and all of the furniture huddled in the middle of the room. Two women were already there – one seemed to be drinking a Japanese alco-pop of sorts and offered some around.

I stupidly declined.

Ten minutes late our teacher walks in, takes attendance (there were three of us) and informed us that we were waiting for one more. Shouldn’t be another ten minutes or so. They never showed – probably wise.

The class started with an introduction as to who we were and why we were all here. I explained that I had written a humorous book on chronic illness, to which the older woman replied “Illness isn’t funny.” I was clearly off to a great start. That woman was here to share her performance poetry and the other was a young female that described herself as a ‘journalist-blogger-writer-singer-artist-alcoholic’. But not in a funny way.

In a sad way.

The instructor moved us from topic to topic and taught us some basic writing exercises, which I enjoyed immensely, though when it came time to read out what we had written I panicked. What if nobody laughed? What if even just in this I fell flat on my face? Oh crap I never should have come to this thing. I should have just gone home, eaten soup and prepared for my business trip tomorrow. Okay, okay. What’s the worst that can happen? I looked around the room to the other two scribbling furiously and the teacher checking Facebook on her iPhone. This was a stand up comedy class – surely if anyone these people would be supportive, right? So that’s what I did. I was supportive.

Their turns came and I laughed at their awful material – confident that they would then at least in turn laugh at mine.

They didn’t. None of them.


Oh my God that couldn’t have gone any worse. I then got the pity prompt from the teacher but I shook my head, having trailed off in my story to a whisper and a pathetic redirect back to one of the other students. They felt pity for me. It was the absolute worst outcome conceivable. 

And then it got even worse.

The young girl had a very noticeable black eye. I would have milked that for all it was worth material wise and figured she was about to do the same when the teacher asked her about it – she started to explain about falling off her bike and I laughed. Finally something in this room was truly funny! Here we go!

She stopped and they all looked at me. And I kid you not, in a stand-up comedy class the three of them turned to me and said ‘that’s not funny, she could have been seriously hurt!’

What the hell kind of alternate universe was I in?!?!!

It continued this way, nobody even giving a polite guffaw at my stuff while I snorted and laughed at their unintentionally funny build up to a weak punchline when really, the build-up could have been quite good.

That killed me. My confidence was shattered and I was left wondering if I had ever said anything properly funny in my life or if people are just out to humor me.

My tinfoil hat of paranoia was now fully in place as I watched the class, checked out and resigned to just sit it out until we were freed – as strangers tromped in and out to use the bathrooms. Oddly enough they all seemed to go in one door and come out on the other side of the room completely but I was the only one that noticed this. Or commented on this. Also apparently not funny.

What was funny, apparently, was complaining. Complaining about people, misogyny (?), tourists, travel cards and sex. It just wasn’t my style. And so I sat there, declining to jump up and play improv games in which you try to out intimidate the other person. I declined moaning about my husband’s inadequacies and I vowed to never, ever, EVER do this type of thing again.

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