Five Minutes As Stand-Up Comic

Five Minutes As Stand-Up Comic Stacey GustafsonDo I have to come right out and say it? I’m a wannabe comic. I love everything about comedy from hilarious sitcoms like Black-ish and Modern Family to guaranteed-to-make-you-laugh authors like Nora Ephron and Dave Barry. But what I enjoy the most is stand-up comedy. I’ve always admired that stand-up comic who got in front of a crowd and told jokes, hecklers be damned!

Stand-Up Comic

Twenty-five years ago, I imagined myself on stage doing the opening act for one of my favorites, Tim Allen. We saw him perform in Atlanta before he appeared on the TV series, Home Improvement, and I wondered, “What’s it feel like having the full attention of an audience?”

As a young, married couple, when our favorite comedians were in town, like Kathleen Madigan, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, and Sinbad, my husband and I found a way to scrape together enough money for tickets.

 

I caught the bug at the Erma Bombeck Writers Conference two years ago when Leighann Lord,

Five Minutes As Stand-Up Comic Stacey Gustafson

Courtesy of University of Dayton

named one of New York’s 10 hottest comics, taught the Stand-Up Comedy Boot Camp. She convinced me to do my four-minute set on mammograms to an audience of over 350 supportive and hilarious writers. Their claps and cheers invigorated me. I wanted to try it again.

At home, I polished my skills and practiced, practiced, practiced.

Stand-Up Is Way Hard

Through this process, I discovered that stand-up comedy is way harder than writing humor. When you write a story, you’re in the comfort of your own home, pecking away at the keyboard with the ability to rewrite and massage a story at your leisure. The same cannot be said for stand-up.

In stand-up, every word must be perfect. Gestures, pauses, eye contact, timing, and facial expressions are essential for success plus the ability to gage an audience reaction. Don’t forget body movement, posture, and memorization. Oh, it that all?

Next step, you must get in front of an audience. With encouragement of 70 friends, I signed up for Open Mic at Tommy T’s Comedy Club. After hours of practice, I was ready to deliver my routine with the appropriate pauses to evoke laughter.

What?! Best Comic of the Night

Guess what? I won Best Comic of the night and the club ran out of food, making up for it with free margaritas. My biggest compliment of the night? My daughter said, “Congratulations, you broke Tommy T’s.” Afterward, Regina Stoops, a local comedian, asked me to make a special guest appearance at a community fundraiser. She helped me punch up my act and pushed me out there.

Five Minutes As Stand-Up Comic Stacey Gustafson

Courtesy University of Dayton

Now I was ready for my four-minute set at Erma this month. Wendy Liebman, semi-finalist from America’s Got Talent, Season 9, hosted Stand-Up Boot Camp and told me afterward, “You’re a natural.” That’s a mighty high compliment I’ll never forget!

I’m not sure where stand-up comedy may take me but I’m thrilled at the opportunities and the support of friends that believe in me. I can’t wait to do it again.

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Comments

  1. Congratulations for taking the plunge, Stacey!!! It’s a big deal and I’m proud of you. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you one day on that comedy stage!

    • staceygustafson says:

      Thank you so much. It was #1 on the bucket list. I am getting more comfortable speaking in front of group for sure. Take care.

  2. Patty Benson says:

    Loved the E. B. workshop set. Your delivery is really looking polished and I agree with Wendy, you’re a natural!

  3. You improve with every performance! Keep it up!

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