I just needed to read through my lines, and everything would be ok. I made it three quarters of the way down the page when someone slipped a piece of paper on top of my notes! What just happened? Glancing to my left, I realized the MC stood beside me, gesturing down at the paper that was now blocking my notes. My heart skipped a beat as I read the words scrawled onto the small sheet:
SORRY! TONY’S NOT HERE. HE’S STUCK IN TRAFFIC!
Oh, okay. Tony’s stuck in traffic.
Wait – WHAT?! Tony’s WHAT?! Stuck in traffic??? My mind started racing. What am I going to do? I couldn’t help but think, this must be my fault somehow – I must have done something wrong. I need to get out of here! Someone please just pull the fire alarm and SAVE ME!
I could sense the mounting anticipation of the crowd, and I knew I had to do something – anything - to keep the ball rolling. Seeing as my notes didn’t cover the man of the hour being stuck in traffic, I was going to have to figure this one out on the spot. I took a deep breath and smiled out at the audience, hoping to convey confidence while racking my brain for my next steps. I hadn’t planned on being on stage for more than a few moments… But what is it they say? The show must go on! There was nothing to do but work with what was available to me in the moment. So, on a whim, the MC and I started to engage in some off-script banter, going back and forth as though it were all part of the show. We played off of the energy of the crowd and, miraculously, everything seemed to flow from there.