Ask me what’s the secret to comedy?

You “What’s the secret-”

Me: (interrupting you) “Timing.”

You: (giggle)

I had a really cool opportunity recently to do a small bit on a Comedy Central Roast. I won’t mention which one it was, but it was the most recent Comedy Central Roast near the date this was published. I did a little bit in the intro. It was awesome.

I learned a lot from the experience. Here are some things I’ll share with you:

1. I got the gig because the Casting Director was in a bit of a doozy, needed someone fast, saw my pic and liked my look. That’s all there was to it. I was an available human being with a look that someone liked. She had no idea what my comedy background was or any of the projects I work so diligently on. Right place, right look, right time. That’s it.

2. I got to be  backstage watching many of the big celebrities practice their roast bits. And I also got to see their team of writers, who wrote them, stare on nervously hoping the celeb would approve what they wrote. But more importantly, I got to see the celebs as real people nervous about doing well for a performance. Not these intangible, larger-than-life, perfect and hilarious demigods that we often make out celebrities to be. Just actors reading the lines written for them and hoping to deliver them in an acceptable way.

3. I was told a number of different things about where I was supposed to be and when by a number of different people. So when it came down to the time for the taping- the audience in their seats, the celebs decked out in hair, wardrobe and makeup, and the camera’s rolling- I got a little confused as to where to go. I asked my stage manager what I was supposed to do a couple times. He was patient with me, because he’s a pro. But I think the best thing I could have done was trusted in the timing more.

I learned this first hand. I got up at one point when I was originally told to and stood in the spot I was originally told to. My stage manager came over, took me back to my waiting chair and said “All about the timing, baby.” He really meant there were a bunch of people and things that needed to go through the area I would be standing in. If I went too early I was in the way. If I went too late,  I’d miss literally the only thing I was getting paid to do. I just needed to trust that someone would put me in the right place at the right time, and not try to force my way in when the stage wasn’t ready for me.

And that when I realized, everything I was learning in this experience revolved around timing. I happen to be in the right place at the right time to get the gig in the first place. The celebs working on their jokes wanted to make sure the timing between the setup and punchline worked perfectly and that the pauses between jokes and jabs were perfectly timed. And, for me, I needed to trust that when the time was right, I would be in the right place at the right time.

As a person who’s constantly working on creating, pushing myself, and putting myself out there in as many different capacities as possible- this was almost a relief to think about. There are only so many things I can control. I can control the fact that I will show up. I can control the fact that when told to be “on,” I will do my absolute best. I can control listening and trusting the people around me will do their job and will help me do mine. I cannot control why I was chosen for a certain job nor can I control when my “break” will come. But I learned, that if I push it and force my way into an unwelcome place when the timing is off, I could find myself in the middle of a bunch of obstacles and could tick off the people around me who are genuinely trying to help. Sometimes, just waiting, breathing, and trusting are the best things you can do for yourself and your career.

Oh, and I got my first check from Comedy Central. That was pretty awesome.

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