Last week I did an open mic in the Valley near my house. My goal was to try out some new stand-up comedy material, which is what open mics are for. I knew I was in the wrong place when the first act, a 19 year old musician/singer took the stage. She did, no joke, a half an hour of “artistic” Britney Spears covers. It was brutal.
Then a cute dude did some alternative, Radiohead-esque songs. I swear to God each song sounded the same. Then it was my turn. I was one of the few comics performing.
So, I launched into my new material which I’ll admit was pretty dirty. I think I said the word p—sy about 10 times when from the middle of room I heard, “Stop! I have my fourteen year old kid here, what is wrong with you? You’re not funny. Can’t you see by the look on our faces that we’re not enjoying this?!” Yes, I was being heckled by an angry, dumb ass man who brought his fourteen year old kid to an open mic with comedians?!! Who does that?!
I didn’t know what to do. My face started to flush, my stomach dropped. I wanted to destroy him but I couldn’t because his fourteen-year old kid was there! It took all that was in me not to say p—sy 10 more times but I didn’t want to get arrested.
I decided to just change gears and proceeded to launch into the cleanest material I had and that I knew would get laughs. So much for trying out the new stuff! The guy kind of shut up but looked like he was going to kick my ass in the parking lot.
I’ve only been in this position one time before when a drunk man in a motorized wheelchair heckled me at the Comedy Store. I wanted to say to him, “stand up and say that to me!” But I didn’t because, a) I would lose the audience and b) I would look like a complete A-HOLE.
I finished my clean material and ran out of there so as not to get a beat down. When I got home the shame came over me. Shame is an internalized feeling of being both exposed and humiliated. What usually happens when I feel this vulnerability? Well, I shame eat. I wanted so badly to eat an ice cream sandwich in the shower (my shame eating usually involves showers).
One time after I bombed, my second time doing stand-up I ate an entire box of frozen Thin Mint cookies in my closet. I’ve also eaten a Snickers bar in a Forever 21 dressing room after realizing that my thigh gap was not big enough.
When I shame eat, the feelings of not being good enough go away as soon as the sugar hits my system. It’s a way to numb the pain. Now that I’m 11 years clean and sober I sit with the uncomfortable feelings instead of escaping.
Another thing you can do when you’re about to shame eat an entire pint of Chunky Monkey ice cream in your car outside a 7-Eleven is reach for the phone. Seek empathy immediately. Luckily my husband was there for the open mic fiasco and empathized.
What I also did was watch famous comedians getting heckled on YouTube. My favorite clip was from Bill Hicks (who is one of the best comedians in my opinion) take down a drunk woman in the angriest, most awesome way possible.
But the most important thing you can do when you’re about to binge is to STAY PRESENT and observe your thoughts. Byron Katie says, “A thought is harmless unless we believe it.”
I literally have a psychopath living in my brain that goes after me like Donald Trump goes after immigrants…and women. I choose not to believe the sociopath anymore and laugh at him. Yes, I’ve named that negative voice in my head – FRED.
Admittedly I sound a little schizophrenic but we all have those negative voices, it ain’t just me! You know the voice that tells you, you can’t pursue your dreams, you can’t leave your partner, and you’re not funny… if you listen to those voices then the shame seeps in like fog thus causing you to make love to a chocolate cake.
Ultimately, to overcome shame eating you gotta be okay being who you are and accept yourself fully, flaws and all. We’re all going to have hecklers in life whether on stage, Facebook, etc. Stand strong, seek empathy, tell those negative voices to go F themselves and just in case, throw out all of your pizza delivery menus.