SOCIAL STUDIES Getting Over My Fears: My Experience with Stand-Up Eliza Hurwitz

This past week, I performed stand-up at an open-mic in New York. I was just as shocked as everyone else when I actually did it. I have been telling my friends and family that I wanted to do it for about a year now but I never really believed that I could or would do it. I had my material ready but being shy and suffering from stage fright, I wasn’t really putting in the effort to find a club, sign up and practice. Luckily, I had a friend who was also interested in doing stand-up and who pushed/forced me to perform.

My friend called me on Sunday and told me he had signed us up to perform on Wednesday. At first, I was annoyed and said, “No, I don’t think I can. I’m not prepared. This is too short notice.” But then I realized if I didn’t do it now, I might never do it. Also, my friend pretty much wouldn’t take no for an answer.

On Tuesday I started practicing my material and I began to feel more confident. By Wednesday, though, I was freaking out. I was so nervous. I just couldn’t imagine being on stage and actually talking for a prolonged period of time. As you guys know I’m horrible at talking, so talking in front of a crowd for five minutes was beginning to terrify me. Once I got to the club, however, I was surprised at how calm I was. Maybe it’s because my sisters and best friends were there to support me, maybe it’s because all the other comedians performing were nervous as well but were so supportive or maybe it’s because the woman MCing was crazy and I loved her! Whatever it was, although I was still nervous, I felt so much more comfortable and ready to perform.

One thing I remained nervous about, however, was the microphone. I’ve never held a microphone before and as I watched the other comedians effortlessly adjust it to their height, I worried that I would have trouble because it just seems like something I would get confused about. Amazingly enough, once I got on stage, I did it with ease! After I did that, I looked out into the crowd and saw my sisters and friends and I knew things would be okay. And they were. I got some laughs and I didn’t mess up once. I was proud of myself. Through my performance I have been able to find a new voice within myself. The thing I found most amazing about this voice, however, is that it is completely true to who I am. I am awkward. I am shy. And by creating my stand-up comedy routine, I finally feel okay with being my true self in all my awkward glory.

Before I performed on Wednesday, my mom said, “If you don’t make yourself uncomfortable, you’ll never grow.” At the time I was too nervous to realize what a good point this was. Instead, I thought to myself, “It’s easy for you to say, mom, you’re not the one going on stage! Aahh, why am I doing this?” But, now I see that her words of wisdom are completely true. Doing things that scare you seems futile. Why would anyone want to do something that puts them out of their comfort zone or makes them feel anxious? It’s because taking risks allows you to grow as a person and see just how strong and capable you are. Taking risks allowed me to see that when you are willing to open yourself up, you get empathy, kindness and respect in return. Taking risks also enabled me to see how lucky I am. I know I couldn’t have performed without my family and friends there rooting for me and laughing at all of my jokes, like I told them to. If I didn’t try things that I dreamed of but was too afraid to try, they would perpetually remain a dream. And that is not what life is about. There is a freedom gained when taking risks, a feeling that I have experienced through doing stand-up.

Seriously, if a shy, awkward, timid, and quiet person like me can do stand-up, you guys can do anything!

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  1. I’ve read a lot of your stuff and I feel like we are the same person! i want to be a stand-up comedian but I am so awkward and shy in real life I’m sure no one could ever picture me actually being funny in front of an audience. But way to go!! i only wish that i can be that brave someday! maybe i would get laughs when i stutter and trip over the mic cord or something…

    • Thank you so much! If I can get in front on an audience and do stand-up I’m sure you can too. If you don’t try you’ll never know, so just go for it!

  2. Awww that would be so nice! I’ll definitely let you guys know!

  3. Thanks so much! If I did it I’m sure you could do it! I agree that it is better to have short notice for nerve racking things. I think the anticipation is the worst part for me as well. I really liked performing, so I’m definitely planning on doing it again.

  4. You’re brave! I don’t think I could do that! I push myself out of my comfort zone sometimes, in order to grow, but not quite that far, haha. Sometimes I like short notice for things that I know will make me anxious because if I know a week in advance I’ll spend the week worrying, but if I make the plans an hour before then I only have an hour to worry and I’m sure the outcome of the actual event will be the same whether I worried for the whole week or not! I’m impressed by your story; congrats on doing stand-up! Did you like it enough that you think you’ll do it again or was it a one-time get over your fear kind of thing?

  5. Good for you! :)

  6. Thanks for sharing your story. I have wanted to do stand up but I am scared to death! I go to a lot of stand up shows here in Boston to support local comedians. You have me thinking…maybe just maybe…I could do it. I am so proud of you! Way to go! Keep us posted on your stand up!

  7. Very encouraging. That’s so great you had the strength to overcome your fear, that’s so hard!! Don’t slow down now girl!

  8. congrats, that’s so exciting!

    one of my favorite quotes is “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I’ve found it to be so so true.

  9. Loved your post! I have been trying to tell myself the same thing lately: do things that make you uncomfortable! Congrats on getting out there and doing it! I can really respect that, being a shy kind of person myself.