Stepping out of your comfort zone

Tonight we are hosting a stand-up comedy party.

This is not our first attempt.  In a different time, in a different city with different people, we hosted a party of this flavour.  We asked our guests to come prepared with jokes; at a minimum say a pun or a knock knock joke, but you can go beyond that and do a ‘set’, copying your favourite comedian, or even write your own ‘bit’.

We had fun, but some of our closest friends didn’t show up because they were too nervous to put themselves out there and say a joke.  And I can get that.  The fear of “what happens if my joke flops and no one laughs?”, “Everyone will be watching and judging me”, “I just don’t feel comfortable doing this because its not what I usually do”.

Of course I don’t want to make people stressed out and uncomfortable.  But that’s not the intention of the party; we want to have fun, try something different and make it fair for all those that participate but making participation mandatory.  A party full of jokes and laughter sounds like a good time to me!

So this time around, we have relaxed our rules a bit to allow people who do feel anxious about saying any sort of joke to instead share with us their favourite comedy routine they could find on Youtube. I hope it doesn’t turn into a video-watching party, but I am confident that many of our friends here in Toronto have taken on the challenge of putting something together to share.

I will be recounting a story from early in my relationship with Ewan that has been recounted several times because of the extenuating circumstances that occurred.  I did a practice run in front of Ewan yesterday; of course he was supportive, but he didn’t chuckle, laugh or guffaw. It’s not that I am that unfunny, but he knows the story, he was there and has himself shared the story many times as well.

And when I deliver it tonight, some friends will perhaps only smile, having heard this story before.  Others may laugh, truly or in an encouraging way.  Or the room could be silent. And to me, that’s okay.

To try is the most important thing to me; to step out of my comfort zone, try something new and perhaps be subject to judgment and failure. I have a thirst for new things and while some may be easy, there will be others that are harder to attempt.  But imagine the world without trying those new things.  Would you regret it? Would there be new and interesting things to discover and enjoy? I feel elated after I have attempted something new, whether I was successful or not. I think there are few people who are perfect on their first try.

Maybe tonight is the first step for me or one of our guests to a career of stand up.  Maybe it’s a practice in public speaking, amongst friends.  Maybe it’s just a good night where we learn a new joke to tell in passing to others.

I’m looking forward to it.  I hope my friends are too and that we have a great memory of tonight. I hope we all get the chance to step out of our comfort zone, try those new things and see what develops.  You can’t know unless you try!

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