I did it.
Tiff’s decision to put me on at Old Rope came four weeks before the gig itself. Those four weeks were spent following my normal routine of attending the comedy night, with the underlying terror of knowing that soon that’d be me.
It was to be my forty-fourth gig, and it felt like my first.
I’ve never done anything scarier than this, I thought to myself. Except I had.
Three years ago today I stepped off a plane into a new life. At Heathrow customs I showed them the UK visa that had only been in my passport for two weeks then (and what an especially scary thing it was waiting for my passport to return to me, stress dreams that I’d somehow be turned away from the only ambition I had because I wasn’t good enough somehow), I was allowed into the country, and I grabbed hold of my two large suitcases, my carry-on suitcase, and my large backpack and headed to the tube.
When things seem difficult now, I just have to remember that. Remember that final night in Ottawa, when I held it together until after our family dinner at excellent Greek restaurant Pilos, and on the car ride home it hit me that that was the end of everything I’d ever known. At home I flipped through the massive photo album I kept of my beloved friends and family (many of those photos now gracing the walls of my bedroom) and my heart hurt knowing I was wilfully removing myself from people who’d been so kind to me, who’d made me feel like a person who deserved nice things.
Those early days were so tricky, and it was only my determination that it’d work that got me through. And I was right.
Just over three weeks into my new life was the first time I walked into the pub basement where I’ve since spent countless hours. This supposedly excellent comedy night I’d been told about by my new friend Jaynie, a fellow Canadian I encountered entirely by chance at a comedy gig at a cool bar called Aces & Eights. It’s weird how many of the puzzle pieces that make up my life (yep, going with that) turned up that early. Old Rope, it was called. I hadn’t heard of a ton of the acts, but Tony Law was on the bill.
I mean, Tony Law was also on the bill last night. Doing a spot immediately before me.
I realised at my gig on Thursday that I might actually be able to do this, as I managed to rumble up a fair bit of laughter in a room where doing so can be tricky.
“It’s a new material night,” comedy friends told me to reassure me that it’d be okay. And it is, and the vibe of the audience is never consistent from week to week, and the best and brightest acts I know have all had weird ones there. I knew all of this. And I knew that really all I needed was the confidence to get up there, own it, remember what words I’d intended to say. Anything else was just a bonus.
It was amazing to me the number of people who turned up to see me. I had a while back briefly contemplated the concept of trying to host some sort of event to celebrate my London anniversary, but quickly dismissed it as silly. Then life was serendipitous and I ended up celebrating anyway. I feel very, very loved.
And I felt comforted by all the tremendous other acts (many of whom I’ve appreciated for some time now) welcoming me so warmly, inviting me to sit in the back with them before the show started. I really felt like I belonged there.
Obviously I was the newest act on that stage. And, y’know what? I think I held my own. I got up there and, to my surprise, I felt comfortable. Because I wasn’t used to seeing the room on that angle, I think, it stopped being completely petrifying once I stepped on the stage. I noticed weird things, like how the spotlights were composed of a bunch of tiny, multicoloured dots. It’s funny the things that stick.
And, you know what? I did it.
I remembered my words, I got up there, and I think I may have even slightly owned it. And people laughed!!!
I felt unstoppable.
It was the third anniversary of my departure to London, my first Old Rope, and I was filled right to the brim with adrenaline and joy. I hung out with glorious people until four-something this morning. I even managed to finally successfully put to rest a feud that has been weighing on my mind for the last two or so years. It was all warm and lovely and comforting.
So here I am, three years into my London life.
And I did it.
Maybe I am unstoppable.