Here’s a tough one for you.

What do Barbra Streisand and Rocky Wilson have in common?

Let me give you a hint.

Unlike Barbra, Rocky doesn’t have 51 gold albums, 30 platinum albums, 13 multi-platinum albums, nine gold singles, nine gold videos, six platinum videos, and three multi-platinum videos.

In addition to mundane parallels like belonging to the human race, walking on two legs, and requiring oxygen to maintain life, we both love dogs and experience stage fright.

Ms. Streisand won the New York Drama Critics Award 51 years ago and has been an active singer, actress, writer, film director, and film producer ever since, yet how many live interviews have you seen Barbra give?

I’d venture to say the number is small. I did see one years back on television and always have been mesmerized by one comment she made. “Dogs are real good people.”

I agree, and that explains the first thing we have in common.

Always shy as a child, Barbra attributes her phobia about performing before live audiences to an incident that happened in 1967. While singing a song she’d written before a large, large crowd in New York’s Central Park, Barbra Streisand forgot the words to that song.

From that date on, this amazing talent and American treasure did her best to avoid live performances for nearly three decades.

I understand the stage fright thing, which I’d guess is far more prevalent than is commonly known.

I’ve dabbled in live drama some, in fact was a low-paid professional actor for one year of my life, and consistently had to be pushed on stage to overcome my abject fear.

And yet, maybe stage fright is a positive thing. In my case, at least, it made me work extremely hard to learn my lines and, for the sake of survival, all I could do on stage was become my character. This, of course, is exactly what every stage director encourages actors and actresses to do.

Lacking those inner butterflies, which still is much more than butterflies for me and I’d guess Barbra, might generate a level of false security.

That’s what happened on one occasion in Spokane when, consistently foolish in my bent to try new things, I tried my hand at being a stand-up comic.

I went to a popular venue that gave professionals and novices opportunities to be funny on stage. A fellow I knew was the star attraction and did fine, but the quality of performances beyond him, to my eyes, dropped off considerably. Because it was a nightclub, their attempts at lewd humor escaped me and, confident I could do better, I asked for and received a shot at my comedic debut.

By then I’d been on stage hundreds of times and was convinced I, too, could write a hilarious piece.

I wrote my piece, practiced and laughed to myself, and went to my performance without a trace of stage fright.

And, without going into elaborate detail here, I bombed.

I’m too young (meaning it was a long time ago) to remember, but I’m told in vaudevillian times a hook would be extended from offstage to onstage to yank a total zero off the stage.

One would have helped that night.

I did learn that directive for an actor never to look at anyone in the audience is in total contrast to what’s needful for a comedian who must read and be interactive with his audience.

And I know, for fact, that my career as a comedian never will be revisited.

Give me stage fright!

Jabberwock II columnist Rocky Wilson is a reporter for the Chieftain.

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