I am a champion of crying in public spaces. Crying while walking down a city street and crying on the bus = some of my favorite types of crying. Nothing really beats unbridled sobbing in complete privacy, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — it’s all good really.
I’ve publicly cried all over the U.S. and internationally as well. Paris is a fun place to cry in public because people really don’t care for it, just like they don’t care for chunkies jogging in their streets.
It’s easy to sob around in public because you don’t know any of these assholes, so you can always flee down an alley or hop off the bus. Conversely, it’s not super fun to try to cry discreetly in a room full of people you know–or sort of know–with no escape.
Like in school, or in a dimly lit open mic full of comics.
Last night I went to one of my favorite open mics–if I can have a favorite, since I’m such a fucking newb: Monday Night Delight at Au Lac restaurant downtown. It’s a mixed mic with music, poetry, comedy, storytelling, breakdancing, performance art, and somehow more. A poet named Sean curates with super pos vibes and unabashed hamminess.
Just totes good vibes, which is why everyone likes it (except, I think, for super efficient comics who want to get in and out in as little time as possible and be on to their next mic, and have no patience for acoustic guitar acts that always go beyond the prescribed 4 minute time limit).
Plus it’s fancy, with a big crowd and real audience members who are just there to watch. (At most open mics, the audience ranges from 5-30 people and is exclusively made up of comics looking at their phones until it’s their turn, after which they leave).
**Please remember I’ve been doing this for like 10 weeks so I am not at all an expert. These are but the observations of a novice.**
ANYWAY THIS STORY IS ABOUT ME CRYING.
So. Last night I did a set about watching TV in the shower (vintage episodes of ANTM that I had already seen, to be exact) and Spinelli from Recess and going on the Atkins diet in 5th grade. It was all new material and during/after I was like oh wow this definitely sucks and no one likes it. Plus I worded my closing line all confusingly and the host didn’t understand and had to ask me to clarify after I left the stage and that was awkward.
So I returned to my seat with some other comics I had met earlier (who have been doing comedy for a decade, of course–when one of them learned I moved to LA with very little experience he said “oh that’s brave”), and I sank deeply into bad feelings.
I took a peek at the video my neighbor had taken of my set (at my request) and unsurprisingly it was very unpleasant to watch myself on camera. NBD I’ve just gained like 40 pounds in the past yearish. But that’s a subject for a different self-pitying post.
So I’m feeling trapped in a room full of people, watching other artists on stage excel at their own work. I wanted to flee but I made myself stay until the end, 25% cause I like to support the mic and it’s a good time, and 75% so I could linger in the back at the end and see if anyone complimented me.
You know, cause I’m needy for validation and one compliment changes everything.
I held out a while but eventually I start crying (just silent tears streaming–I have some self-control). There are a lot of emotional songs and poems and shit at this mic, so it’s very possible people could think I’m just extremely moved by the art. But I wasn’t moved by the art, I wasn’t even paying attention to the art, I was just feeling supes sorry for my fat untalented self.
Performing is definitely a mind game. One day I’m funny and everyone laughs and then the next day everyone hates me and I’m embarrassing myself. Then the day after that I’m nodding casually as veterans repeat that open mics aren’t for laughs, they’re for working out your material and laughs are just a bonus. Right Right Right, exactly. Of course.
Anyway since I was fully crying I decided it was time to give up on my compliment and I started walking fast out of the bar, like any sad girl in a movie who has reached her lowest moment. Except she’s just going to go to bed in a melancholy fashion and I’m definitely going to buy taquitos at 7/11. (I will try to order them in a quiet voice but ultimately the cashier won’t hear me and I’ll be forced to yell “MONTEREY JACK!” in front of all the older men buying beer in line behind me. As if otherwise they wouldn’t have noticed.)
On my way out I whiz past a guy and then hear him say “hey” like he’s answering his phone. Then two more times: “hey–” until I realize he’s talking to me, and I turn around and act like I’m not crying at all.
“Hey you were funny. No offense…but usually I hate comedians and you made me laugh, good job, you were funny.”
I managed to say “Thank you I really appreciate that, I liked your poetry as well” and then I excused myself as quickly as I could without being impolite and fat jogged toward the metro sobbing even more, at once overjoyed and left completely empty by the compliment I so desperately wanted.
Then I had to pull it together to stand on the metro platform, cause a lot of people with mental health issues are down there late at night and in my experience that’s the kind of person who won’t hesitate to be like “HEY FAT BITCH WHY ARE YOU CRYING” and I didn’t feel up for that.
Once I had my taquitos, and still felt really really low, I also finally found my sense of calm, and thought to myself “ok, I’m doing it. People not liking your shit is a part of the whole thing.” And then I pictured Tyra Banks yelling at so many different ANTM contestants over the years, yelling about how many times she was told no and had doors slammed in her face before she made it as a model. And how she never gave up despite how much everyone mocked her big forehead and skinniness.
And then I watched The Comeback until 3AM and in the morning I met up with some people shooting a digital pilot who need a PA, and even though we have never met before, my face was so puffy there is no way they couldn’t tell I had been sobbing.
I keep thinking “what if I cry on stage one day” and I feel like just by thinking it I’m going to make it happen…but maybe that’s the kind of ARTIST I am.
**Addendum that will annoy everyone**
Of course it also happened that last night I was reading some threads (like this one) on twitter about how white women’s tears are often weaponized against Black people because of our presumed innocence in all situations, and how our tears are used to distract from/cover up/deny our own racism. And being the self-conscious white person that I am, I can’t help but think that it is therefore inappropriate of me to glorify my tears in any fashion, but I would like to clarify that the type of crying I’m referring to, while public, is very private and I do try my hardest not to cry in interactions with people I don’t know intimately. But I am thinking now that publicly discussing my own sadness is disrespectful to people whose lives aren’t as petty and silly as mine…but then again this is my truth so HERE WE ARE.