Phil: I’m actually writing this on Liar Liar day so I’ll be completely honest. This was another challenge I just couldn’t fathom how to fit into my day. While only consuming water day was doable, but fell on a day where I felt sick and needed to visit a doctor, this one reminds me of last year’s challenge of “see live music performed somewhere” -- meaning it doesn’t always mesh up with whatever day you are having. I’m wondering if next year, when we decide on the challenges, we try to make sure most, if not all of them, can be retrofitted to any sort of day, especially work days for me. As someone who works nights, generally, a challenge like this was hard for me to even imagine accomplishing. Short of singing a song on the subway to work, which I wasn’t going to do, I couldn’t really find any events to become a part of even if I wanted to. So I was unable to perform anything publicly. But I’m glad to see today being Liar Liar Day, I can challenge myself today without having to “be” anywhere. Onward.
Bruce: Since Phil and I are both musicians and performers this seemed like a good prompt to randomly get our practice in. Leading up to this challenge though, I decided that whenever it came up I needed to do something I’ve never done before because to do poetry or music would just have been too easy as I’m way too practiced and familiar with those and this project is all about vacating your comfort zone…. And that’s how Challenging Days got me to do my first stand up routine after a lifetime of people telling me I should do Comedy and a few years of friends and I talking about how that would be a fun little adventure.I put a call out on Facebook to figure out where I should go to perform and found a place in Oakdale called shakers that has an open mic. My comedian friend Phil Sheridan told me he would go with me and threw me some pointers throughout the day (“just think of things you want to talk about and put your spin on it”, which was obvious, but he also taught me “put the word you think will get the laugh at the very end.. like the punchline of the punchline.”). I decided not to write any ideas down as I think most people are funniest in a spontaneous way and I’d rather fumble and rely on my wit and charisma than sound rigid and be really nervous because I’m trying to stick to a script. To inspire myself I watched a great HBO interview special on YouTube called “Talking Funny” and an interview with Robert Downey Jr. on a Netflix series called “Cameras Off”, both of which had a lot of information! Downey Jr. something about how it’s very tragic for a performer to be so practiced that when it comes time to break away and do something improvisational you are paralyzed. The club was sketchy little dive place in a strip mall and there were probably 12 performers and 3-4 spectators. Everyone was heckling in this little comedy open mix family but in a sort of casual way and some of the material was actually good (I find much of local comedy to be abysmal). When I went up I wasn’t that nervous in fact I was less nervous than when I go up and do music that I’ve been doing for years, probably because identify myself as a profession poet or musician so there’s more pressure on me. I’m definitely grateful for all of the mileage that I have on stages and microphones because I felt completely OK and safe and I feel like that’s half the battle. I did seven or so minutes of material, chatted up a few ideas and meandered free-form. I Found myself locked up at moments to grab a new idea to riff on but my split second “um” was other people’s digging around for a notebook and muttering to themselves. Who am I kidding? Of course I filmed it! (Here’s a private link of the set that I hope you enjoy )! I got a fair amount of laughs and learned a lot about my slip ups and it felt really good and natural and people’s responses after words were really astonished and supportive and I was invited to do more and mention of paid gigs was even in the air. I feel like this is been a landmark that sort of been hanging over my head my whole life and I’m glad that I finally did it, what an experience I will probably do this more often and that is really exciting thought to me!
Tomorrow's challenge: #15 Liar Liar Day (total unfiltered honesty)