Every comedian has a pre show routine that helps them do their best. Mine always starts with a shower no later than 2 hours before showtime. It’s important to be as fresh as possible,which is why I rarely do anything between shower and show.

There is something quite magical standing in the shower with invigorating hot water cascading down. Occasionally a weird thought or joke will pop into my head before I get out. (Who first came up with the word “queasy”?) I leisurely get dressed while listening to music or watching TV. Since I’ve been working a lot at the Comedy Cellar, I know it takes 35 minutes on the subway, but I leave an hour before showtime in case of any variety of delay. I’m only late a couple of times a year and it’s usually the trains fault.

Once at the club, I order a coffee in a to-go cup with hazelnut. At the comedians table I peruse the lineup, hoping its filled with acts I love to watch. I head down to the show room about 3 minutes before showtime. Just enough time to check out the room and make sure my fly is up.

As the intro music plays I walk to the edge of the piano, take a closer look at the crowd and wait for my cue. After 30 plus years in standup it is still thrilling to approach the microphone. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

One of the fascinating things about what I do—talk to 120 strangers crammed in a small space—is there is never the exact same crowd. People are from all over the world yet the laughter sounds exactly the same every night. Another reminder that we are all just people, with so much more in common than not.

William Stephenson

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