Three Beer Rule

    Education Corner October 18th, 2012 By Dustin Fisher

    First of all, it should be noted that the Three Beer Rule ONLY applies to stage performances. The formulas for talking to pretty girls, dancing at weddings and religious conversations with ex-girlfriends and/or family members are much different and constantly in flux.

    I entered my first standup contest in December of 2007 based on a combination of curiosity, chutzpah and boredom. Standup (and storytelling) is a very intimidating experience, as you are completely alone on stage without anything other than your thoughts and a microphone. There are no other actors to feed you lines, no safeties behind you to make the tackle and no guitar to strum nervously while you try to remember the first damn line of the second verse. The silence of forgetting your next line is the loudest that room will ever be. I’ve seen the nerves get the better of some people and watched them leave the stage in the middle of what I have to assume was going to be a joke. It takes courage to get up there. And there’s only so far feigning confidence will get you.

    That’s why I ordered two Long Island Ice Teas that night. I was so nervous, I didn’t even realize the implications of drinking two LITs before going on stage until my friend Kelly said something like “Holy crap! You just drank two LITs!” Oops. Thankfully, the Funny Bone in Kentucky has the business sense to water them down or else I may be telling the story of how I broke my clavicle at my first standup routine.

    I certainly don’t regret the decision, but this process needed to be better regulated. I am convinced that I would not have been able to perform as well without any liquid courage, as evidenced by the January 2008 open mic at Go Bananas in Cincinnati where I performed without liquid courage. I didn’t bomb, at least not in the frame of reference of a 3rd timer, but it was awkward. My delivery was wooden and I wasn’t “in the moment” because I was too busy sweating and crying and peeing a little. I certainly didn’t enjoy myself. I made the decision there to make sure I was always enjoying myself. What was the point of torturing myself with this allegedly enjoyable hobby if the end result was only unnecessary stress?

    On some level, I absolutely know I’m making excuses. I’m picturing the readers out there who may not approve and I’m trying to find a way to  win them over. Instead, I will just say that this process is not necessarily recommended. This is only what I have come to rely on to help me through the horrific stage anxiety that could cripple an otherwise decent performance and send me back to the comforting solace of Ben and Jerry’s.

    Over the years, I have tried different survival techniques, (all of them legal). I tried overpreparing. I tried underpreparing. I tried listening to yoga music. I tried listening to death metal. I tried to remove my soul from my body and watch my performance from above the stage through the eyes of an older, wiser version of myself who didn’t care as much about what people thought of him. And I have altered my alcohol intake process, both in form and volume. After five years of market research, I have come up with the Three Beer Rule. *

    The basic concept is that on the night of a performance, I need to drink three beers prior to the performance. No more, no less. EXACTLY three beers. Any less and I can feel the nerves and can’t get as into the moment. Any more and I forget stuff, slur my speech and vomit on innocent microphones.

    However, this is just the baseline. There have been situations where I’ve needed to concentrate more, so I’ll drink less. For example, I had a rant within a story that was an entire minute long and it was imperative to the character I was trying to convey to talk fast and seem angry. It would have ruined the story if I were to stumble or slur. I chose to forgo being in the moment for nailing the monologue. Also, there are easy gigs or parties with a stage where being over the three-beer limit isn’t as inappropriate. If you’ve been to Vijai’s Birthday Bash, you know what I’m talking about. Especially if you were there in 2010.

    So that is the Three Beer Rule. Once again, this is not recommended for everyone. It’s just what works for me.

    (* Ed note – The “Three Beer Rule” will not get you out of a DUI. In fact, it may earn you one. You’ve been warned)

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