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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Into the Light

It’s dark backstage. The audience seems promising today. He has checked them out. They are receptive, in a good mood, perfect audience. He tries to listen to his predecessor; his ears are so full of adrenaline he can’t make out a word. He hears the bustling of the audience. He is doing well. He’s not nervous. He won’t get nervous yet, he’s too excited at this point. He starts getting pumped up. He has done this a billion times before; he has rehearsed it so much he knows it back and forth and sideways. He is ready, as ready as he possibly can.

The performer before him walks in with a cheer booming behind her. He pats her on the back “great job” he doesn’t even know what she said, he knows one thing the audience is happy. The announcer walks out on stage. This is when he gets nervous. For a split second his already pounding heart starts pumping a little more intensely. The excitement is too much though; he uses it to shake off his nervousness. Like the climb at the beginning of a roller coaster, this is the calm before the storm. “I would like to introduce my next comedian…” the announcer dishes out the same introduction every night. If it’s not broken why fix it. He likes his introduction; it’s personal, funny, and over.

The audience starts a wave of applause and cheer; he is pulled in by its tide onto the stage. He steps into the spot light, ears now completely deafened by the sound of a hailing audience; for a second there he is alive. All the senses in his body disappear in his background; there is only one thing, his act. The rush on stage is so big, he doesn’t remember seeing anyone or doing anything. He is just there; this ephemeral presence in the light is all he wants. He draws energy from the cheer, and greets them loudly. He doesn’t want the feedback to die; he doesn’t want the audience to stop; it is his job now to keep them alive.

He starts off, simple at first; short and sweet to grab their attention. He tries to have them identify with him. The all sense something of them within him, he is successful; now they would be eating from his hands. He throws at them another joke, the laughter says it all, now the energy is up there, strong and pulsating. He uses this energy, draws it into himself and sends back another one. More laughter, the game is on; this is tennis, he serves up a good joke and they follow through with a response. They love him and he loves it. For the entire time he is on stage their eyes are fixated on him. He wouldn’t have it any other way. He was born to be in the light, he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The eyes intensely following his every move. The ears sharply tuned to his voice amplified by that ever so familiar microphone that is under his grasp. They give him more energy, he eats it all up. He feeds off the crowd, and now he’s happy.

The act is nearly over, he doesn’t remember how it began, or where he is, he’s just doing it. It is a blur of laughter and words; all he remembers is the light, that bright light that blinds him, that bright light that brings him to life. He finishes the set and thanks the audience, the high is over yet one last applause fills him with enough energy to leave, content. He bows and places the microphone on the stand. He walks out, and steps back into the darkness. It is dark backstage, but he is now happy.

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