When I was a new, inexperienced comic approximately two thousand years ago, I met an older, veteran comic named Steve, who gave me some priceless advice.
Steve said: “Whenever you get onstage, no matter what your position is in the hierarchy of talent that night — no matter if you’re the emcee, the warm-up act, or the middle act — the moment you step on that stage, always act as if you’re the headliner. Always act as if everyone in that audience has come just to see YOU.”
Why? Because once you step out onto that stage, you are responsible for your performance. You owe it to you, and to the audience, to give it your best effort. To give your best effort, you have to act from the top of your game. So you need to approach this moment from a position of total confidence.
After all, if you’re not the greatest singer or performer, those shortcomings will soon become clear to everyone. But don’t make things worse by selling yourself short. Believe me: there will always be plenty of people to notice your flaws without you helping them!
Besides, it’s actually irritating to watch people who act like they themselves don’t believe they deserve to be onstage. My first thought is, “Then why the hell did you get up there in the first place? To manipulate us into feeling sorry for you? Get outta here!”
The fact is, it’s amazing how easy it is to trick an audience into believing you’re better than you really are. Show the audience that you have total self-confidence on your part. Make them believe in it… even if you really have none! Do a little acting practice. Act like you’re the best one that night. Act like the stage is your home, and the audience is your guest. Then see what happens.
Believe me: even if you stink, you’ll get a much better response than if you behave as if you know that you stink.