Fear is comedy's greatest motor | If you're not afraid, you're not taking risks, says Lucie Pohl

Fear is comedy's greatest motor

If you're not afraid, you're not taking risks, says Lucie Pohl

After shows people always ask me: ‘Oh my god! How do you do it? I. Would. Shit. My. Pants!’

I pretend like it’s nothing but what they don’t know is that I actually do shit my pants every time. And that is why I no longer wear pants.

I think fear is comedy’s holy water and one of the most important parts of performing, developing material, writing and really getting anything up on stage. Most comedians don’t talk about it because it’s all about being fearless and no one wants to admit that being fearless just means overcoming the actual fear that is always there.

I think a lot of performers bust out onto the stage cocky, crazy, cooky, cranky etc. because they are in fact very afraid. In a way an on-stage persona too is like armour.

Fear is the reason why people love, admire and cherish comedians. They know you’ve got to have balls to do it. You’ve got to have balls to get up there in front of strangers, you’ve got to have balls to speak truths, you’ve got to have balls to decide that something is funny, you’ve got to have balls to try to make people laugh, you’ve got to have balls to bomb and keep going.

The audience of course is afraid of us too, the only thing they don’t know is that we’re just as afraid of them as they are of us.

I have been performing since I was a kid and I have always been afraid. Any performer who tells me they’re not afraid is full of shit. And if I’m wrong and it is really true that there are those nonchalant bastards out there who aren’t afraid then I think they’re missing out.

Fear is our greatest motor.

There is so much to be afraid of: Fear of not being funny, fear of not being as funny as last time, fear of losing your momentum, fear of losing touch, fear of just plain out sucking, fear of making the wrong decisions, fear of no success, fear of success and so much more.

If you’re not afraid then you’re probably not taking risks.

Without risks there is no funny, or at least not the kind that I want to be around.

The reason why we keep working on our material, why we keep pushing forward is because we are scared shitless of what happens if we stop or if we don’t try to get better.

Experienced comedians will always tell you having a period of bombing is vital in the beginning of your career and I believe that is because during that period you learn to live with the fear that will accompany you forever as a comedian.

Larry David says every time he did stand-up he felt like someone was holding a gun to his head, Eddie Murphy has talked about his fear of performing in front of live audiences.

It’s a part of the whole. It’s like being married to a nagging, beautiful bitch that is great in bed, cooks delicious breakfast, drives you absolutely crazy and that you know you can’t live without.

I think without that extra helping of juicy, succulent fear on the side, anything I did would most likely become very boring. Fear is the yin to my yang the ping to my pong and the rice to my broccoli beef.

And then at one point, overcoming your fear every night becomes an addiction. To me, good comedy is like tightrope walking and good comedians are tightrope walkers.

Franz Kafka said: ‘My fear is my substance and probably the best part of me.’ And although he’s not a comedian, I think he was a pretty smart dude.

I think comedians are all thrill-seekers who love to be afraid. Playing with that fear, embracing it, loving it, fighting it, taking it along for the ride and diving headfirst into it is what makes great comedy and great performance.

So now that we know that, we can all go on being afraid, getting drunk and making people laugh.

Lucie Pohl: Cry Me A Liver is on at the Gilded Balloon at 16:00

Published: 14 Aug 2015

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