Have you ever performed in front of a live audience? Given a speech? Sang a solo? Done anything that makes you nervous? I've spoken a few times about how I always wanted to be an actress. My desire was to be a movie actress or maybe a TV actress, not a stage actress. Why? Because I get stage fright. I tend to do okay with a group on stage, but the few times the spotlight was on me, it didn't go well. I would do fine in rehearsal and I would do fine in front of strangers, but if I knew someone in the audience, it was never a good thing! Did I get on stage and freeze? Nope. Did I pass out? Nope. Not me. I get the giggles when I get nervous. Not just on stage, but anything that makes me nervous, gives me the giggles.
The first time I remember it happening is when my four year old brother got a motorcycle for Christmas. It was the cutest little motorcycle EVER. I was twelve years old and I barely fit on it. I got on it, giggling and rode across the yard, laughing so hard I couldn't see straight and I ran straight into the fence. Not good! My brother was not happy that I wrecked his new motorcyle the day he got it.
The next time I remember the giggling was when my older cousin, after years of my begging, finally agreed to let me drive his go-cart. My grandparents lived in the country and there were lots of dirt roads around their house - dirt roads and bean fields. I made it from their house about a fourth of a mile down the dirt road, pedal to the floor, giggling the whole time with my cousin beside me screaming at me to slow down, and then in a cloud of dust, we went off the road and into the bean field, where we got stuck. He was not happy with me. I don't think I ever got to drive his go cart again.
Same thing happened when my dad let me drive our go-cart and while teaching me to drive my mom's car. Not good.
Want to know the absolute worst time to get nervous and get the giggles? When you're singing a duet, in church. My friend Charlotte and I had a duet in the kids' program. I was probably about 13 at the time. We got up to sing our duet in front of the church and made it through the first verse, when the giggles started. I could feel them creeping up and tickling my nose and I sniffed trying to get rid of them when all of a sudden, I exploded in nervous laughter. I could see my mom from where I stood in front of the church and I will never forget the look of embarassment mixed with fury. I knew I was in so much trouble, but I couldn't help it. Unfortunately, this affliction seems to be contagious and soon Charlotte and I were giggling through the rest of the song. After the music stopped and we walked backstage, I practically ran out of the church for fear of a beating.
When I was in high school, I made sure not to take speech. I knew better. But, when my World Drama teacher insisted on a project that had to be done in front of the class, I knew I was in trouble. My partner, David, and I opted to do a puppet show so that we would be hidden from the class. We were doing Romeo and Juliet, with puppets. David was the class clown, one of my dearest friends and one of the funniest people I've ever known. My dad helped us build our set. We painted it and worked on our show for weeks. We had our lines down. We were ready. The day of our presentation in front of the class, I was prepared and ready to get it over with. We made it through about two pages of dialogue before I flubbed a line and the giggles overtook me. Oh no. Then David got started too. We giggled so hard that we couldn't talk. The giggles turned into a outrageous laughter between David and I behind our set and soon spilled into our classroom audience. Finally, the teacher told us to please just leave the classroom. We obliged as we stumbled, laughing so hard we had tears running down our cheeks, out into the hallway. I think we got a D. My parents were NOT happy. They did not giggle.
So, what do you do when you get nervous? Do you get the giggles too? Do you freeze up? Do you even get nervous in front of an audience?