A Comic is Born?


One of the things I always said I wanted to do was get up on stage and do standup comedy. I’ve always been told I was funny, in school, in the Army and at the Police Department I always heard “Dude you are F’in funny you should go onstage”.  I was funny when I was telling stories, acting things out or just plain making fun of people…I knew that wouldn’t translate into being funny onstage-unless of course I gathered a room of people who thought those stories were funny. I mean unless you’re a cop or idiot (same thing) telling a funny story about a death scene isn’t funny to most people.

So when I read about a comedy class being given at Catch A Rising Star in Princeton I just had to do it…there was no denying my inner comic, what’s the worst that could happen I’d get booed and called an asshole? I get that daily as a Police Officer, especially by the Governor of NJ. So I paid my money and attended class.

The class was put on by Steve Trevelise and Jimmy Graham, two very funny and talented comedians. Steve is well known on the radio in and around Philadelphia and Jimmy was part of the Murderers Row out of the Howard Stern Show.

We learned the craft of writing standup comedy,  how to craft those stories I had into jokes, how the story may be funny but the art of telling the story, acting out the parts, imitating voices, making stupid faces really made the joke. These were the things I was already doing. We were taught that being brief was our friend…to condense those stories down to their basic elements and getting to the funny stuff without all the filler.  We were taught that writing was our friend and that we should always have a note pad on hand or digital recorder so we could write down the funny stuff we observed, put our spin on it and craft a joke. I’ve never used the Voice Memo function of my iPhone so much. Always recording random thoughts, observations and funny jokes I’m lucky enough to think of in the middle of conversations.

We were told it takes a comic a year to come up with 30 minutes of material, they weren’t kidding. We had 4 weeks to come up with 7 minutes of material that we would have to perform ON STAGE at Catch A Rising Star in front of an actual audience…GULP!

Naturally I fell back to my career, I wrote Cop jokes but the funniest comedy comes from deep within, to find your faults and put them out for the whole world to see, tapping into those not only makes others laugh but in some way is very therapeutic. I’m a hypochondriac and it was easy for me to explore that and write some funny stuff. I spent my 4 weeks writing, enhancing, erasing, revamping, changing, cutting, throwing out, re-writing my routine up until 10 minutes before I went on stage at the graduation.

We performed our act in front of the other students so many times that they just stared blankly during rehearsal the night before graduation.  Does not do anything for your confidence when you tell a joke and no one even chuckles. But we heard it so much it just wasn’t funny…and that got me doubting my stuff was funny at all. CRAP what the “F” am I doing…I was praying for snow so our show would get pushed back another week, I needed another week to write more stuff, we had snow every week leading up to the show, it decides to not snow that week.

Our show was Thursday, February 3rd. I arrived a little early and had a couple of glasses of wine to calm the nerves which were surprisingly not as bad as I thought they would be ( the nerves, not the wine). It was an absolute packed house, well over 100 people in the audience waiting to see us sink or swim.

I had memorized my routine, not line for line but in what order I was going to do it. I knew what I was going to do up there on stage and I was ready. To say I wasn’t truly nervous would be a lie, but I do so much public speaking that getting up in front of a crowd doesn’t make me nervous at all. Having been a Radio DJ for a few years a microphone is very comfortable for me BUT I had never gone on stage to PURPOSELY make someone laugh. That made me nervous, I was anxious and wanted to get it over with.

There were 8 of us performing that night and 4 comics were in front of me. The closer it came to my turn on stage the less I listened to the other comics…I was trying to get in a zone but now I was one comic away from going on and my “What the fuck are you doing” meter went off. Holy Crap, no one laughed at these jokes last night. Am I am idiot? I must be…I need to turn around right now and get the hell out of here, just as I was about to turn and run screaming from the waiting area I heard Steve introduce me and someone’s hand on my shoulder pushing me towards the stage…Ahhhhhh Shit here I go.

The audience politely clapped as I grabbed the microphone. For a brief moment I felt naked on the stage, I hoped I remembered my routine. I did tape an index card onto the side of my water bottle that had bullet points to steer me in the right direction if I got lost, I referred to it once in the middle of my set.

The lights were bright enough that it was difficult to see everyone in the club, the stage is small and you are right on top of the audience. I took a deep breath and moved into my first joke…laugh…led me into my second joke bigger laugh…Holy Crap this is awesome…any nerves I felt evaporated with those first two jokes. Suddenly I was hanging around with my friends being the idiot center of attention that I for some reason need to be. I heard the laughing and fed off of it, but the funny thing is I couldn’t gauge how much laughter I was getting. I could hear responses, laughter, giggling, guffaws but none of it registered I was lost in the moment,  lost on stage with an incredible rush like NOTHING I’d ever felt before. Jimmy told me it’s like a drug…the more laughs you get the more of a rush it is, the more you lose yourself and become more yourself if that makes any sense. I felt a connection with everyone there, like we had hung out 100 times before that night and we were drinking some beers laughing our asses off at some stupid crap. I won’t tell you any of my jokes, you’ll have to come see me perform sometime but that 7 minutes flashed by in the snap of my fingers.

I finished my set walked off the stage to very loud applause and felt 10 feet high, what a feeling that was very hard to come down from I was amped and ready to get back on stage right then and there. As I’ve said, I’ve spoke in public, in front of very large crowds, I was on the radio at 94.3 the Point at the Jersey Shore and had TENS OF THOUSANDS of listeners and nothing felt like I did walking off that stage.

Over the years I’ve put on a little weight, ok a lot of weight, enough that I was getting Lap-Band surgery the following week or I would have been up on stage that very weekend somewhere. As I write this I’m recovering from the surgery but am anxious to get back on stage somewhere. I’m writing every day, some funny some not…it doesn’t always have to be funny as long as I’m writing that’s what matters. This was an exercise in writing for me today. I was unable to concentrate on this leading up to the surgery-but now that I’m beyond that I needed to chronicle my comic debut. For those of you wondering I didn’t look like Veruca Salt from Willie Wonka (the blueberry girl) but I was definitely feeling the weight…I’ve lost 24 pounds so far… when I get the video of my performance I will post it up…hopefully you’ll laugh when you see the video and when you visit me on a stage somewhere in NJ soon!

Categories : Family Life


  1. Jeff says:

    You completely kicked butt at the show! Congratulations!

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