We manned up to do stand up comedy
The pen is mightier than the sword. Or so they say.
As writers, we have often used the power of the written word. Hopefully, our words have brought a smile to many faces.
But no one mentioned how the pen mightiness can mean little when it comes to making a room of strangers laugh at your jokes.
Yes, that's what my colleague Azim and I were challenged (ie made) to do in the name of work.
With the fast-selling Kings and Queen of Comedy Asia 6 coming up this weekend, we set out to see just how challenging it is to be a stand-up comic.
Both Azim and I had never done anything like this before, so understandably, to say that we were "freaking out" was an understatement.
We had just about two days to prepare our routine, to be performed at a comedy open mic night at Blu Jaz on Wednesday (Oct 22).
To help us with this, Rishi Budhrani, a well established stand-up in Singapore — and performing at The Kings & Queens of Comedy Asia 6 — kindly dropped by the office to give us newbies some tips.
They helped... a bit.
My colleague was sick - so I had the fortune of having a one-on-one session with Rishi where he gave me five very helpful tips.
Whether I used them when it actually mattered, however, was another issue.
Tip number one when you're going to perform in front of a live audience? Practice.
I didn't have enough practice — and did not have time to fully remember my routine so I had to go up with a crumpled piece of paper, the words smudged by my sweaty palms.
That's how nervous I was.
What made it worse was that almost every one else on stage that night, including Rishi and his hilarious wife, Sharul Channa (below) who performed before me, were funny enough to make me almost fall of my chair.
I was intimidated.
Even my colleague Azim did a fantastic job. Not wanting to lose to him, I shrunk further into my chair.
How was I going to be funnier than him?
When I went on stage, I was already fumbling — I had difficulty taking the mic off the stand and my script slipped from my hand.
Then, the first joke I made was an off-the-cuff remark about my backside... which I immediately regretted. But hey, it went well. I think.
I then went straight into my routine where I realised that making people laugh was harder than I thought.
As I delved into my life — more specially my love life — I started to hear more laughs, although at times I wondered if they were pity laughs.
But nevertheless, those laughs were like special energy bars in a video game — the more I heard the they powered me to talk.
And after the initial few minutes, I grew to be more comfortable on stage.
Unfortunately, I got a little too comfortable.
And I completely missed the cue to get off the stage and stayed on stage two minutes longer than my allocated time.
My worst fear of getting kicked off the stage came true. Well, kind of. The host, Sam, was nice in doing so.
Ah well, at least I didn't fall flat on my face.
It is not often that your boss assigns you to be a stand-up comic.
But then this is The New Paper.
Three hours before I was to go on stage, I was furiously rehearsing my material to myself in the corner of the club.
I was aware that the club was filling up with more people than I had mentally prepared for.
I expected maybe ten, but there was, by my estimation, at least 40 people in the the room.
My mind was drifting with the panic. The host must have called my name because somehow I suddenly found myself onstage introducing myself to a room full of people.
My first joke was an apology to the audience about how I did not have breasts. (A bit of context here: Breasts had been a prominent part of the previous comic's routine).
The joke went down well enough, a few polite laughs emanated through the room.
My next one, however — about how I was so nervous I could pee on stage — bombed as my punch line was met with an silent room.
Somehow I managed to save that by comparing myself to an animal — classy.
I blazed through the rest of my set and before I knew it, the host was giving me the signal to wrap up.
Man, he didn't have to tell me twice.
I was happy with the few scattered laughs I got, but before that night, I had never felt that nervous in my life.
It gave me a heck of an adrenaline rush though.
Would I do it again?
Maybe, but a very, very small maybe.
Catch local comedians Kumar and Rishi Budhrani along with UK's Gina Yashere among others at the Kings & Queens of Comedy Asia 6 on Saturday (Oct 24) at the Esplanade Theatre.