#201 Perform in a Live Show Called “Mortified”

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I am off to the side in darkness. On stage the first person of the night, reads her piece. She’s bathed in the super bright white of a spotlight. I’m so nervous. Jessica doesn’t look nervous at all and I envy her for that.

How the fuck did I get here? About to go on stage in front of over a hundred people and read journal entries about my furious adolescent masturbation. Six months ago, on a Wednesday night I would’ve been watching a Netflix video with a glass of wine. Which, don’t get me wrong, is a totally cool evening. But performing in a live show in front of people? That just wasn’t in my realm of possibility back then.

The first performer is winding down. Keep breathing, I say to myself. I can’t stand still. My limbs are shaking. I feel like the notepad I have my piece attached to is going to disintegrate in my hands because I’m rubbing it like rosary beads.  Now she’s done. She’s coming down the steps. I stand by, waiting for the band to finish before I go up.

The night before I ran through my piece standing up, pretending like I was in front of an audience. I did it another time with a microphone, recording it. I sounded ok. But I really understood how I needed to turn everything up a notch more because even though I thought I was being energetic, on playback I still sounded reserved. Another thing I noticed was how I can mumble or run over words. I made a mental note to really take my time and enunciate, which is what Anne told me to do anyway. I also watched videos on the Mortified site. I got the most inspiration from the first one, Will’s, who was actually performing in the show.

I never prepared like this for anything. Even back in school when I had a presentation I thought I could wing it which was never the case. Now I prepped like my life depended on it. “Don’t over rehearse,” I remembered Anne saying. I put away my piece and tried to go to sleep.

The band finishes and David pats me on the shoulder. I think about when I went bungee jumping in New Zealand and the guy gave me the slightest push on the back. It was all I needed to jump off, albeit, less than heroically, the Auckland Bridge. David’s pat is all I need and I force myself onto stage.

I take my time adjusting the microphone. I’m really nervous now. Scared out of my head. Just do your best I told myself. I feel myself starting to shake again.

That morning, I decided I needed to do a yoga class to drain off some of my nervous energy and center myself (my god, did I really just say that?). Luckily, one of my favorite teachers, Diane Huddock, was teaching. Class was brutal and I’m terrible at yoga in the morning but it was exactly what I needed. It was comforting to see my friend and teacher, Ella, practicing beside me. “You’ll do great tonight,” she assured me.

In yoga you shake when your body is resisting. To stop that, you breathe and let go. I do and it helps.  “Hi,” I say. My voice is shaky. I can hear it. I launch into my introduction. This is gonna be rough.

Work that day was good since I wasn’t that busy. I fluctuated through the day between terrifying anxiety and relative calmness. I silently read through my piece a few times throughout the day, praying nobody saw and asked me why I was reading about a teenage boy masturbating. Then all of a sudden, the work day was over. The only time I’ve ever thought it ended too soon.  I headed over to the venue in Hollywood.

When I got there I saw Neil right away. He lead me into the venue and gave me a brief rundown of how things were going to go. Then I met up with David and he also gave me a brief rundown of how things were going to go. I didn’t mind. Give me all the information you can.

I met Stacey who had done the show a number of times in San Francisco.  She was really nice and gave me some good advice. I met up with Anne and she showed me the stage and how to adjust the microphone.

Then the next hour or so was a blur. I remember that I couldn’t stand still. I read part of my piece but couldn’t concentrate on it. I walked to the entrance to look for my friends. To the bathroom. To the green room. All over the venu and then back again. I saw my friends. I said hi but I was completely miserable company because I was getting more and more nervous. The band started playing and I went over to the side of the stage.

I somehow make it through the introduction and get to what should have been the first laugh… and everyone laughs! I can feel a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I settle in and relax. I’m still chock full of adrenaline but I start to get into it. The laughter of the audience is addictive.

I’m reading and playing off the audience. I actually have to wait for the laughter to die down more than a few times. I laugh a little too. Everything is going great. As I get near the end, I start to get nervous again because I know I’m almost there. Just hold it together a few more sentences…

Then all of a sudden, it’s over. People are applauding. The audience so great. I step off stage. David pats me on the back again, but this time saying, “Awesome!”

I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m on a crazy high. I text Ella. I say hi to my friends. I can’t even concentrate on the rest of the show. I can’t calm down.

But I do eventually with the help of some bourbon. And for those of you wondering if I had to get liquored up to do this, I didn’t. No booze beforehand.  When I walk around, strangers come up to me and tell me what a good job did. It’s crazy. I can’t believe it. They come up to me during rest of the show and the whole time after, even right as I’m leaving.

As David closes out the show, he does the most amazing thing and gives a whole little speech about how I did Mortified because of SYED. It’s a huge plug for the blog and I can’t thank him enough for it. I didn’t even have to ask him to do it. He said he just liked the blog.

I love my amazing friends who showed up to support me. I was surprised how much it helped having them there. There was a surprise appearance by Bob as well as my good friends Matt, Tim and Erin.

I can’t say enough about the producers of Mortified, Neil, David and of course, Anne. They were so supportive and friendly. They know their shit too. All their advice was spot on. Anne was great to work with. She really knew how to put together a cohesive funny piece from my mangled mess of journal entries. Plus she gave me great direction on how to read my piece.  I don’t know how this turned into an acceptance speech.

Performing at Mortified, has been the highlight of Scare Yourself Every Day thus far. It embodies every reason I started this blog. It was a chain reaction from posting my embarrassing journal entries to a reader telling me to apply to Mortified to me applying, missing one of the casting sessions, finally going to one to being chosen for the show to here. This was something that would have never have happened if not for the blog and for the people who read it for that matter. Doing anything in front of people is one of my biggest fears. Tonight I really scared myself and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.

So without further ado, here’s a video of my performance (thanks Matt). Be forewarned, there’s cursing and lots of talk about jacking off.

Side note: This guy was in the audience as if I needed more things to worry about.

18 Comments to “#201 Perform in a Live Show Called “Mortified””

  1. angela 22 September 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Haha, awesome! Great job, Dee! I think I remember reading most of that stuff. 😉

    • Greg 22 September 2011 at 10:03 am #

      Thanks! Now we should do a joint show in SF

  2. Steensky 22 September 2011 at 10:20 am #

    All kinds of awesome! You killed.

    • Greg 22 September 2011 at 10:38 am #


  3. Jessica 22 September 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Greg – you were so awesome!!! Your piece was hilarious! And despite what you think, I was TERRIFIED too!! 🙂

    • Greg 22 September 2011 at 10:37 am #

      Jessica! Glad you checked out the blog. You didn’t seem terrified at all. You were great!

  4. Anne 22 September 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Just watched this and it gave me chills! You did SUCH a great job last night. BTW, I play World of Warcraft, too. 🙂

    • Greg 22 September 2011 at 5:19 pm #

      Gracias!! And WoW really? Like currently??

      • Anne 23 September 2011 at 8:23 am #

        Yes. My server is Echo Isles, my character is Alexiaia- a blood elf. I haven’t played in a couple months because I have been so busy, but I have played for about 4 years.

        • Greg 23 September 2011 at 9:29 am #

          That’s awesome. Blood elf paladin?

          Ok, gotta stop talking about this or I’ll be tempted to start up my toon again…

  5. sylvia 22 September 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    you rocked!!! I’m so glad you posted a video of it.

  6. cindilee 22 September 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    OMG, I am so proud of you! That was hilarious!!!!!

  7. Vivi 28 September 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    OK finally watched the video!! You did great!!! Wish I could’ve seen it live!! =D The Moth is definitely the next big step!!!

    • Greg 28 September 2011 at 6:19 pm #

      Thanks so much vivi!

  8. Juliana 29 September 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    I saw this show live last week and you were my favorite performer!!!! I laughed like every 4 seconds. My friend and I have been texting each other all week “I jacked off…then I organized my binder.” You’re quote-able!

    • Greg 29 September 2011 at 9:41 pm #

      Did you come up to me after the show? That’s hilarious about the texting! My twelve year old self would not believe it. Thanks again and glad you enjoyed the show!

  9. Julie 10 October 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    Greg!!!!! This was hilarious and so heartwarming at the same time! I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must be for you to come up with scary stuff to do all the time but keep it going – you’re such a great writer and I love reading the blog.

    • Greg 13 October 2011 at 5:49 pm #

      Thanks Jules. I might do the show in SF and you can see it live if you want. Will keep you posted…