My trip to New York didn’t start on the 21st March. It started much, much before that, last summer.
I was feeling down because I’d done some comedy and – as always – I was the only girl. That’s not what was getting me down. I was down because all the other guys were making dick jokes, or being quite insulting and the guy who went up before me had a set purely about how men should be allowed to look at boobs. Don’t get me wrong, comedy can come in many forms and I do really enjoy these guys’ sets, but time after time of “man comedy” was making me tired of the comedy scene.
I was sent a Huffington Post article about two women in New York, Sue Smith and Anna Drezen, who were tired of comedy nights being dominated by men pulling lame, sexist jokes all night. So they decided to start an open mic night called Open Michelle, just for women to perform at. I knew I had to go. I didn’t know when but I knew I had to go be there.
Half a year later and I’m walking round New York squinting at my phone at a screenshot of a google map to the Open Michelle event. I made a point of turning up early just in case there was a queue (as many things in New York have) so I loitered outside the door until they let me in.
I set myself up on one of the high stools at the tables while girls of all shapes, sizes and colours walked through the door and started snacking on the cake and other treats laid out for the event. I got chatting with a couple of the girls and more than anything, I just felt like it was the friendliest, safest environment ever. I felt like it was the warm-up to a sleepover or something. Those are the kinds of warm fuzzies I was feeling.
I didn’t perform that night because I like to bounce off of other comedy shows. Something even as small as posture can spark off a routine in my head and so I just wanted to absorb the comedy from these girls.
The first girl got up and started with “so I am a plus sized model and I was on America’s Next Top Model”. I went weak at the knees because, although I’ve not watched in about 3 years, I had watched her cycle (9) and recognised her. After her came a long string of gorgeous, funny, inspiring women. Some joked about periods. Some joked about being broken up with. Some joked about being Jewish.
After the show I went up to Sue and Anna and introduced myself, saying that I’d read the Huffington Post article and that that was why I wanted to come to New York – to see this show. They were really surprised that I had come so far, but made me promise I’d perform the next week.
A week passed and I was there again, ready to perform. It was the event’s anniversary and so there were waaay more people than the previous week, including a few more minor celebs. I guess it’s great being foreign because you can act normally around people because you have no idea who they are but still get the happy feeling when you google them afterwards and realise.
I was about 6th or 7th on the list. A hilarious transgender woman told some jokes about some of the misconceptions people have of her. A few of the girls from the week before had come in with fresh stuff to try out. Then it was my turn. I did acted out a variation of the Talent for Christ post I wrote, and even though I wasn’t nervous before I went up on stage, I suddenly was when the audience turn their eyes on me.
It wasn’t my greatest work. I hadn’t spent as long on it as I’d hoped, but it was still well received. It always seems much worse when you’re on stage as your ears are so full of the loud beating of your own heart that you can’t judge how much the audience are enjoying it. I think my accent was hard to understand at times, and I didn’t have the confidence of the other girls, but still, it was great and I got a big round of applause after.
Later in the evening Janeane Garofalo turned up and did a short set. I had no idea who she was but was enjoying all the people around my going crazy that she was there.
After the show all my new Twitter friends and I waved goodbye and I went to celebrate my New York debut at a 2 bit retro gaming arcade bar. But that’s a post for another time!