Other Stories: I used to be a theater kid

Other Stories

I took the stage long before I ever became a stand-up comic (Part I, II and III).

I was in a musical. I did improv. I was in lockstep with nearly everything a typical theater kid does, except wear a lot of black clothing and have an infatuation with Rocky Horror Show. I got that Tim Curry was pretty hot in that film, but I didn’t understand why people freaked out about it every time, “Time Warp,” came on, or why it was the most requested production.

“Anyone have ideas for our spring show?”

*20 sets of hands raise*

“Ideas that are not, Rocky Horror Show?”

*All the hands drop*

I also didn’t care for using a hug as a greeting. I don’t mind a nice embrace every now and then, but the last thing I want to do is wrap my arms around someone wearing a trench coat in July. Or hug another male stranger, in general.

But that was my life for a period of time. I was a thespian. A performer. The most annoying person in the room. I didn’t watch movies. I watched film. I thought Christian Bale was the bar and I thought that I could sing.

I was a theater kid.

*****

I was a terrible singer. Still am. The notion that “anyone can sing” is total horse crap. If that were true, Simon Cowell wouldn’t exist.

The first time I actually sang in front of an audience came my sophomore year of high school when I auditioned for the high school musical. The audition poster’s direction told everyone to pick a popular Disney song to sing.

I choose the ever-popular song, “I want to know,” by Phil Collins. Can’t remember it? Of course you don’t. It only appeared in the middle of the Tarzan movie you saw once.

My audience was four teachers sitting at a desk in front of me and a gang of theater kids sitting on the choir stands behind me. I was petrified. Singing alone was bad enough, but I had to sing without music and my song had quite a few breaks in the lyrics.

Whatever you doI’ll do it to…..”

I got to the point where I flew through the song to avoid the awkward silence interrupted by my hand slapping my knee to keep the beat. Then came the crescendo.

I WANT TO KNOW, CAN YOU SHOW ME?”

My voice was about to crack. I could feel it. But thankfully, I held off the crack and saved face in front of the kids who were dressed like they work at Hot Topic.

“I have one question,” asked the theater teacher. “Why haven’t you gone out for choir?”

Everyone let out a small chuckle because I guess that was supposed to be a charming question. I have no idea. But I was not a choir kid. Even if I tried, I could never be that annoying. Singing every song in the car with vigor, being extra as hell during the musical number of any Disney movie, growing up to tell everyone at the bar on Thanksgiving eve how impressed you are by this year’s choir squad.

*****

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have invited my family and my grandmother to my first and only high school musical. Not because it was embarrassing (it was), because like every sports team I played on up until then, my shining moment lasted for all of five seconds near the tail-end of the performance.

My high school was doing a production of School of Rock, which I realized much later wasn’t an actual musical anywhere. I played several background characters and my primary purpose was to make wacky faces throughout the show.

My costume was a red shirt. I can’t remember my one line, either due to my faulty memory or because my subconscious yanked it down to the basement of my brain, but I do remember my brother doing his best to hold in his howling laughter when I said it.

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