You can watch here: Sabrina Fritts Comedy Debut
When I first saw the announcement of the “Stand Up! Workshop for Women” I was ready to sign-up. I had always secretly wanted to be a stand-up comedian, I love to laugh and equally enjoy making others laugh.
I believed this experience would provide new knowledge that would assist me in my professional career, as a public speaker, teacher, and, now, radio personality. It was easy to justify, based on the educational business expense alone.
In addition to making my professional bio more interesting, I expected to have some fun, and check off another item on my bucket list, like when I skydived. I didn’t have an attachment, whether or not I would perform more than this one time, trusting I would know after my debut.
I didn’t expect this to be easy. I knew I would be stretched outside of my comfort zone, but everything worthwhile does, and I enjoy embracing those liberating growth opportunities.
We began with a four-hour workshop, led by Kristina Hall, a professional writer and comedian. There were nine women participating and I casually knew one, the rest I met that day. However, several of the women knew each other, some quite well, and that made me feel like an outsider. Were they going to get special treatment, or have an unfair advantage because Kristina knew them?
Looking back now, I see the masterful games my ego began to play. Whenever I enter uncharted territory, I revert to my instinctual “survival of the fittest” stance. I immediately assess the “competition” and plot my strategy for triumph.
It’s not pretty and it isn’t easy for me to admit these feelings. I have often had glimpses of oneness, where I see someone for their true self and it feels wonderfully delicious. So, when I fall into the limitations of humanity, it hurts even more, knowing it can be different. I must be willing to let go of my own insecurities and fear of failure in order to feel differently. It pisses me off, quite frankly, that I still can suffer from victimization. Haven’t I healed, evolved, and transcended this yet? Why the hell not? Will I never be good enough?
I felt intimidated by this group of women. They were all beautiful and intelligent, as well as, edgy and adventurous. I felt like I had no advantage. I began spiraling down into a dark place and I try to stop the insanity by looking for good things, focusing on our similarities, seeing them for their true self.
Then, Kristina asked me to share my biggest fantasy in what I hoped to gain from this experience. I can remember feeling such great joy when I imagined possibilities, with no limits, and I responded with my deepest desire to become an inspirational comedian, reaching millions of people, transforming lives through laughter. Kristina told me to take the emphasis off others, and focus on me, what I hoped to get from it.
I was confused because in my mind, affecting positive change in this world, helping people live more joyful lives, that’s what I want more than anything, nothing would make me happier. I already knew I would grow from this experience, that was a given, I wanted to look beyond myself. In that moment, I felt that she just didn’t ”get it,” she didn’t see the bigger picture, and now, the best I could hope for was to gain technical knowledge of the comedic world.
I spent the rest of the time during the workshop in observation mode, being reserved and cautious. When I did speak up during a joke writing exercise, my suggestion was rejected, feeding my insecurities and my need to find flaws in others.
There were discussions on some topics outside of my playground, and my ignorance causes me to be uncomfortable and critical. Looking for relief, I felt I had enough material on the others that I didn’t need to share my stuff. That’s my default insecure mode; focus on the imperfections of others, so I don’t have to look at my own.
At the end of the workshop, we had a basic formula and guidelines for a joke and we were assigned the task of beginning to write our material, with our first group teleconference scheduled a few days later. We would be performing in two weeks. Was it possible to be ready by then?
Kristina posted some comedy videos in our Facebook group and I gravitated toward the one that was outside the traditional stand-up, but showed the strength and humor in being honest and vulnerable, through storytelling. That’s what I love to do, tell stories and that became obvious in the way I was writing my material. Perhaps this was the whole purpose of me being doing this, to discover a platform that spotlights storytellers. That really excited me; I felt this workshop has served its purpose.
After writing a few initial jokes, I sent them to Kristina and she provided constructive feedback. She advised me to avoid instructing or inspiring, which works in motivational speaking, but not stand-up, the comedy audience is inspired by honesty. If I want to inspire them, I have to be completely authentic and willing to share at a deeper level. I needed to take the focus off what others would get from it and focus on what I was going to receive instead.
There were several monumental events that took place during this time, my son graduated from high school and we joined my parents for a family vacation in Sedona. My husband and I rode our own motorcycles, 1550 miles round-trip, while basking in spectacular scenery; the ride is physically strenuous and sometimes challenging due to heat or cold. My professional life was expanding to the airwaves, with launching a new radio show, “Authenticity Rising”, which I co-host on Transformation Talk Radio, with a dear friend and colleague, Christine Upchurch. Our first show was scheduled the day before my comedy debut.
During our vacation, I had four conference calls between the radio show and the comedy workshop, and I needed to write some material. I was dealing with the guilt of cutting into my time with my family and feeling overwhelmed by my responsibilities. I felt resentment that I didn’t have the luxury of leaving “work” behind like my husband, Greg, could do. In addition, I was dealing with my emotions around witnessing my parents, who are not physically healthy, making poor choices that negatively affect them. Although I do not fear death, knowing we are eternal, I do want them to have good quality of life while they’re alive.
We began our return trip on Saturday, three days before the show, by driving through the high desert in hot temperatures. There was an incident with a Navajo Sheriff that would eventually provide me with material, but at the time, caused a disagreement with Greg. After a ten-hour day, my son, who was driving my car behind us, decided to continue home with his sister, giving Greg and me a much-needed night alone.
Then I open a group email from Kristina, which contained a lot of homework. This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I broke down, the pressure was too much and now it seemed like work, not playful and fun. Why can’t I do it my way? Greg put it back into perspective for me, by rationally pointing out that I am a student, I wanted to learn this, and I am being given expert advice, that I paid for, to do it.
Like with most situations, it is rare that what we are reacting to in front of us is the actual problem. I needed to release the stress and concern that had been building up. After enjoying good food, a thorough cry, and great sex, I was back in alignment. I could breathe again and I was ready for the next steps.
With Kristina’s priceless expertise, my stories were whittled down into clear and succinct jokes. And they were funny! It was time to practice and memorize my routine, my mind would not stop. I could barely sleep the night before, or eat the day of the show and there were times throughout that my body would shake from nervousness. I hadn’t experienced anxiousness, at this level, before. I knew something good was going to happen and this was much bigger than I had expected.
We arrived at the venue early to acclimate and support each other in our shared anxiety and concern. We were in this together; I no longer felt a sense of competition or alienation. I felt a powerful connection and appreciation for each of these beautiful, uniquely authentic, and courageous women.
We all experienced significant change; break downs and breakthroughs during this process. Each and every one of us that took the stage for the first time felt the undeniable exhilaration of facing fear and conquering it. Stepping outside our comfort zone and discovering freedom in knowing that simply sharing ourselves, we discover we are enough, and actually are very funny.
In our unique challenges and life choices, we have come together through our common desire to express ourselves through comedy. Sharing a closeness that was incredibly palpable, Greg commented on it. Our success is a testament to Kristina’s ability to teach, bringing out the best in others, and her belief that everyone is a comic. Kristina said, “Laughter is expansive.” That is an understatement!
We had so much fun, we are going to do it again!
You can watch here: Sabrina Fritts Comedy Debut
- We did it!!!
- These were two of the women in my group, Charis and Laura Lee. Talk about intimidating, both are gorgeous (even while eating) AND tall!