Nearly two months ago, I tried something new. I reached slightly outside my comfort zone and participated in a local open mic event. Participants were asked to sign up at the beginning of the event. The only requirement was that they had to share real stories from their own lives.
My original plan was to be a spectator. But that changed about ten minutes after we arrived. Was it the spark of raw energy in the room? Was it the sparkle in the eyes of friends as they put their names on the list? Was it the opportunity to announce the recent release of my latest book?
Whatever it was, I was compelled to make a spur-of-the-moment decision to add my name. I'd prepared nothing. All I had was the memory of a family anecdote that included a French song we learned as children for Great Grandpa Joe's birthday.
As I listened to the other speakers' stories, I made mental notes for my own performance. When it was time to grab the mic—which I did, because I can't stand behind a mic stand and talk; rather, I have to walk around and gesture—what fell out of my mouth was more coherent than expected. My story didn't flow as well as some of the other stories that had been planned and rehearsed, but it wasn't horrible. It was actually somewhat entertaining based on the reactions of the crowd.
Truth be told, the open mic event took place at a brewery. Folks were well into their second (or third) drafts by the time it was my turn. Then again, laughter and applause boost self-esteem regardless of the forces that conspired to cause them. Laughter and applause are also highly addictive.
At the end of open mic night, I realized two things. Firstly, I completely understand the magical allurement of stand-up comedy. Standing up in front of a crowd that reacts positively is intoxicating. Secondly, open mic nights are another cool way to publicize my books.
I will absolutely do it again. Although, from now on, I'll prepare my stories ahead of time.