A couple of months ago, when I was still working at my old job, I got a call from David, one of the producers at Mortified.
He told me they were shooting a Mortified documentary. They were going to film shows at five cities. He asked if I would be interested in possibly participating in one of the shows. Of course I agreed immediately.
A few weeks ago, he finally confirmed that I would be in the last show they were shooting, here in LA. I was excited and nervous. It sounded like a lot of fun. I had three shows under my belt already. If you recall, I performed at Mortified three times, once in LA then in SF and Berkeley. So the nervousness had less to do with performing and more to do with the fact it was going to be filmed for this documentary. It was such an honor for them to ask me to do this. They obviously thought my piece was strong enough to be in the documentary. I didn’t want to let them down.
I hadn’t read my piece in nearly 7 months.I read it twice out loud yesterday before the show. That was all the practice I did.
I headed over to King King in Hollywood at 5pm. We were asked to arrive at 5:30pm to be around for shoots if they needed it. I discovered that out of the six performers, two were brand new. They followed them on their journey from casting to showtime. I thought this was a great idea.
It was nice that it was the same venue I had performed at the first time. It made me feel a lot more calm. I saw David right when I got into the club. Though the venue was the same, I noticed immediately that things were very different.
The last time I was there, there weren’t very many people around. The band, the producers and some employees of the club. This time, there were a lot of people running around. There were at least three people with cameras. Various crew people. And just a bunch of people doing other things. It was a bit overwhelming.
David took me over to meet the other performers. I recognized Lorelei from the first show that I did. The others I had never seen before. The two new girls, Libby and Angela were a study in contrasts. Libby had a theater background and seemed quite calm about the whole experience. She was also mic’d up and had a camera person following her around. Angela was a regular civillian like me. As such she was nervous as hell.
After talking with everybody, I wandered around the venue. Went outside for a few minutes and when I came back in, I noticed Angela sitting by herself at a table, intently studying her notes. I knew exactly how she was feeling because I was there before. Not that I’m an expert at performing but I was 1/10th as nervous as I was my first time.
So I went over to her and starting talking to her. I gave her some of my insights about the experience and told her that she was going to do fine. I think it helped calm her down a bit. She seemed more relaxed and thanked me for talking with her. It’s good to be alone sometimes before performing. I found I like to be alone right before I do it. But we were over two hours away and being alone too much, I think you can get sucked into a hole and get into your head too much.
It was strange having people with cameras running around filming stuff. I tried to fly under the radar. One time I was reading over my piece in a dark corner of the club. I looked up and someone had a video camera pointed at my face. I quickly looked back down and tried to ignore it.
I was feeling fairly calm about everything until I finally looked at the program to see when I would be reading:
First?? I was going first?? Mother of God. This freaked me out. Going first is pretty tough. The crowd is not warmed up or drunk yet. If you fuck up, you screw it up for the rest of the people after you. Going first is the second most important position next to of course, going last. I was flattered to be the lead off hitter but like I said, scared shitless.
I tried to tell myself I would be fine. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my piece was perfect to go first. It was light and funny. Kind of like an amuse bouche. I thought back to my other shows and how well they went over. That helped me calm down a bit.
Next, a photographer grabbed me to take some quick portraits outside. This was bizarre to me but luckily the photographer kept it casual. She didn’t ask me to pose. She just talked to me and snapped some pics. She was also kinda hot and told me I was very photogenic. Hmm.
When people started lining up outside, the nerves began ramping up. Nate and Caity were coming to the show as was my bug-eating friend Chrystine. I saw them in line and chatted them for a bit before going back inside. That was very different than my first time because I could actually hold conversations with people before the show. The first time I couldn’t concentrate on anything.
Then I was standing off to the side of the stage, just like 7 months ago. Only this time, I was going to go up right after David was done giving the introduction.
He gave me the signal and I was off. I realized that I was much more nervous than I thought I was. I had to worry about hitting my mark on stage and adjusting the microphone. I also had taped my pages into my actual journal, a request from the producers so it looked better for the documentary. But I was unfamiliar holding it.
I launched into my piece and everything went fairly well. I stumbled a couple of times and blew through a few sentences. But I was also more expressive in some parts than I had in the past. The jokes hit pretty well, but not as big as the first time. Overall, it was a very uneven performance. Higher ups and lower lows.
One thing was that David said he wanted the readers to look up as much as possible when reading. This was a lot different than what he normally tells us which is just bury your nose into your paper. That made it more difficult and the first time I looked up, I realized they had turned up the lights in the crowd and I could see everybody. Before I was pretty much blinded by the spotlights. So that was a bit freaky.
Then it was over.
When I walked off stage, I looked at David and felt like I had let him down. I had put a lot of pressure on myself to do an awesome job for the documentary. David reassured me I had done fine. I wasn’t so sure but at least it was over.
The rest of the show went well. The crowd seemed a little disengaged for the second performer and part of the third. But she eventually got them going. Then Shaun, the last performer before the intermission did an awesome piece that got the crowd fired up.
The second half of the show went even better. Then it was curtain call time which was the best part. When David called my name, I felt like I got a few extra cheers. I just love standing on stage with all the other performers. It’s such a bonding experience to go through and it’s nice to stand there together and get some applause.
It was such an amazing night. I still have to be interviewed for the documentary in a few days but it felt like a chapter closing in my life. Mortified has been one of those rare, life changing experiences. It’s always one of the things I list when people ask me, “What was the scariest thing you did for your blog?” It taught me a lot about myself. Showed me I was capable of more than I ever imagined.
But like I said, I think the Mortified chapter is over. If they ask me to read again, I don’t think I would unless they really needed me. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me, but at a certain point, it feels weird reliving those past moments. Especially when they weren’t particularly great. I think it’s time to close the book on that awkward 12 year old kid from New Jersey.