Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Confidence Tricks

The set of people that we judge to be confident is in fact made up of two distinct groups; the truly confident and those that can fake it. For all intents and purposes this doesn’t really matter since outwardly those accomplished members of the second group are indistinguishable from those in the first.

Confidence is contextual. A man too shy to maintain dinner conversation may have no problem calming a charging horse. Of course some irritating individuals might be able to do both. Some supremely gifted individuals might be able to do both at the same time, though this is rare, not least because there are very few dinner parties to which horses are invited.

So though one might be able to stumble through something resembling Kreisler’s Rigaudon in front of sixty people, or perform a group dance to Queen in front of six hundred, this does not guarantee that one has the necessary social equipment to perform stand up comedy alone.

Such an act requires…well there’s no other way to say it… balls.* Quite frankly, those spherical totems of bravery often escape me.

The event was a showcase of wonderful comedic talent of which I was not a part, though it became clear that the evening would fair better if someone introduced each half and somehow I found myself about to be that someone. I don't want to overstate it: The crowd was an invited mix of munificent media types with kindness in their hearts and a modicum of alcohol in their veins. The heckling sort they were not. But even so, I had nothing prepared**, and felt that there would be some expectation that whoever stood at the microphone ought to be funny.

Additionally, it must be remembered that what paucities of charm and vocal dexterity I possess are not universally applied. Anyone whose misfortune it has been to receive a voicemail from me, can attest to this. I gabble, I maunder, I veer wildly off topic.***

As I held the microphone to my mouth, all my sweat glands were convinced I was locked in a sauna with a rabid Doberman. My words of welcome were met with tepid applause of the kind afforded to a runner up at a church fete. At which only half the crowd have hands. Could do better. I bailed and devoted the remaining minutes to a paean for the first act. The professionals took over and the crowd was with them.

My recollection of the second half is hazy, but I distinctly remember contrasting Gangnam Style with Coleridge’s Xanadu. I think they liked it, but to be fair, Coleridge always is an absolute hoot. But I do remember people laughing and that feeling warm and fuzzy.

Somewhere, my first dalliance with stand up comedy is recorded. But I’d rather you didn’t see it. So I leave you with Xanadu instead. The proper one obviously.

* You catch my drift no doubt, though I have never fully understood the idiom. I have two such objects suspended from my person and rarely does either instill me with courage.

** This isn't strictly speaking true. I always have an old joke about onions on stand by, but it is so good I keep it in reserve for the direst of circumstances.
***“Well, er, actually, Portugal accounts for almost half of the world’s cork production, so I don’t suppose you are free on Thursday?”