Alison Berkley: Getting over stage fright on the tube
I am happy to report that I have made my television debut.
So what if it was some silly little local TV show that didn’t even have a makeup artist or one of those dressing rooms with lights around the mirror?
The important thing is I was totally at ease in front of the cameras. It was like everyone says. After a few minutes I forgot all about them, blinded by all those bright lights. I suppose chugging that 22-ounce beer in the bathroom beforehand helped me relax a little bit, too. So what if it was 11 in the morning? A girl has to do what a girl has to do.
The truth is, I get serious stage fright. It doesn’t matter how big the audience. If people’s eyeballs are focused on me, and they might notice if make a total ass out of myself and die of a heart attack right there on the spot, I get very nervous.
It started as early as I can remember. During my formative years, I dealt with it as any child would, and laughed my ass off all the way through grade school. I’m sure it was a nerves thing.
As soon as I got called on, or had to present something to the class, I’d burst into giggling fits so severe that my entire body convulsed and my face turned red and tears streamed from my face for no real reason at all. I laughed so hard that no noise came out of me. It was more like a deep wheeze, too hearty to contain any sound.
My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Stump, didn’t exactly appreciate these outbursts. With a name like that, you best have a sense of humor, but good ol’ Mrs. Tree Stump was not amused.
She called it “disruptive” and “disrespectful,” even though all the other kids in my class loved it and agreed with me that I was totally hilarious. For some reason I could never understand, my laughter incited her anger like farting on a lit match.
She dragged my desk across the room and pushed it to the farthest corner facing the wall and told me I “needed to be separated from the other children.” Her nostrils flared like an angry bull, and she looked as though her head might pop off any minute, which was also very funny, and made me laugh even harder. This, of course, only exacerbated the problem.
One day I decided it was time for a confrontation.
“Why do you think it’s bad that I laugh all the time?” I said. “Would you like it better if I cried?”
Instead of an answer, I got a trip to the principal’s office. Apparently Mr. Greenberg, a.k.a. Mr. Green Hamburger, had no sense of humor either.
I still suffer from occasional laughing fits, but instead of getting yelled at by school faculty with funny names, people just assume I’m stoned. As if you have to be on drugs to giggle uncontrollably for no apparent reason. I mean, what is this world coming to?
I would much prefer laughter to the sheer panic that sets in every time I have to talk in front of an audience these days. My heart pounds so hard I’m sure people can hear it and see it popping out of my chest. My voice comes out all high pitched and frenzied, especially once my heart creeps into my throat and lodges itself there like I just swallowed a piece of gum.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan to die choking on a stale piece of Bazooka Joe.
So when Dr. Jerry Bovino asked me to come on his show, (aptly named “The Jerry Bovino Show”), I hesitated. I’m not quite sure why a retired eye doctor has his own talk show.
But like all the other pathetic losers who will do just about anything to get their lousy mugs on the tube these days, I couldn’t resist the idea of a little limelight. (Even if the only people who will probably watch this show are Jerry’s kids, no pun intended.)
I had no idea I’d be so adept at TV and totally adored the other guests who were equally as charming. It was me, columnist Paul Anderson and Brent Gardner-Smith, whose name Jerry just loves.
I happen to know that BGS grew up in La Jolla and definitely has that California boy thing going on. Cocky, confident: Who the hell can tell the difference? He’s very suave, and his delivery is fabulous. You almost believe that what he has to say is of some importance. Bravo.
Anderson is way too smart and interesting to waste his talents on small-town media. Paul, I definitely see Meet The Press in your future – or at least in your next life. I didn’t realize anyone paid attention to environmentalism or politics in this town, at least beyond whether roads should be bent or straight.
All in all, the show was fabulous, even if everyone’s face did look a little shiny. Doc, no offense, but you should consider hiring someone to help you with that sweaty forehead thing, which is totally natural. I prevented that by having a little drink before the show and made sure I used plenty of face powder, all of which can be purchased at Carl’s.
I also ran over to Boogie’s and bought a Juicy Couture cashmere, zip-up, hooded sweatshirt in mahogany brown because Jerry said I shouldn’t wear white, and none of the 50 black tops I had seemed appropriate.
BGS said I shouldn’t “unveil the Princess” and let people see who I really am. Don’t be silly. I’ve got nothing to hide! For starters, I chose that portrait to run with my column because I think it’s way classier than a photo.
Second, what can I show you that you haven’t seen already? Exposure doesn’t come without being exposed.
[The Princess swears she will never post nude photos of herself on the Internet, but you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org]