Monday, November 10, 2008

Ask Abbi: Jitters

Chris of writes:

Do you get nervous before a gig?

Thanks for your question. Sometimes I get nervous before a show, but I'll never admit it. If you ask why I'm bouncing from foot to foot, I'll just tell you I'm excited. Johnny Carson says nervousness is just a sign that you're ready, and I agree. Once I'm on stage, the energy is re-directed, and I can have fun with people. I usually have to resist the urge to shadowbox. Rich Vos has a funny bit on how unprofessional it makes you look. But in my case, mama said knock you out.

When I was starting out, signs that the nervousness had not abated were easy to spot: my arms dropped to my sides, my voice became monotone, and jokes stopped making sense.

"Scollege is hard. I mean college. I was trying to say school and college at the same time. Good thing I opted to major in unemployment. Because unemployment is something I am being often. I mean unemployed. Who here has pets?"

I also used to grab the microphone cord when I was nervous. If Freud studied comedy he'd say it is an umbilical cord and grabbing it is wishing your mother were still attached. Another tell is that I rubbed my belly while talking. I have no idea why this was calming to me, but watching old videos is hilarious because drawing a big circle on my stomach with my hand has nothing to do with the joke. It's more like a subliminal message: This is where the beer will go when I am through with you.

Feel free to post your questions for Abbi in the comments section, to be answered in a later post, or write curlycomedy (at) with "Ask Abbi" in the Subject.

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Chris said...

Another tell is that I rubbed my belly while talking.

Call me unimpressed.... Unless you also pat your head with the mike hand while doing this.

Abbi said...

I think receiving jokes with the mike hand is impressive enough. And you know who agrees? My ten friends! (holds up knuckles, Annie style)

Mo Diggs said...

When I'm nervous onstage I drop all the cocaine.

Abbi said...

That's a scripted improvisation, and you know it.