I hold back from being fully committed onstage all the time. Its difficult to catch because I'm focussed on getting the words out in the right order or stressing about the audience reacting to think about my level of commitment, its not till I get off at the end I look back and think “I should’ve made a bigger idiot of myself there.”
Committing to the bit is the key to any performance anywhere always. Whatever you’re doing you have to do that thing 110% otherwise you won’t even know if it works or not. This includes if you’re playing a character who gives 50% to what he does, in that case you need to commit 220% to compensate.
The audience is a really good gauge for this though. Somehow they can tell when I’m not giving it my all and if they sense I’m not believing what I’m saying they don’t want to believe it either. This matters so much, my belief in what I’m saying can change the performance from being someone standing powerfully in charge, talking about issues I’ve considered and feel confident in expressing, to some guy mumbling awkwardly in the corner about my thoughts and my day to no one in particular.
Committing is being present, being exclusively in the moment. This is outrageously hard for someone like me whose natural defence mechanism in any situation is to zone out completely until everything resolves itself. This means in a performance, instead of my whole brain being in the moment I have half my brain there, a quarter of the brain dwelling on an awkward handshake from three days ago and the other quarter imagining all the possible awkward handshakes in the years to come.
This takes away from what I’m doing and makes it less enjoyable for everyone, including me. One thing I have found again and again is that I don’t regret totally committing once its done, it feels so stupid beforehand and I wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life but once I do it and stand there afterwards I feel so much better about the whole thing. At least now when the bit bombed I can confidently put it bit aside and move on with my life.
This is especially true for any bit that you are less confident on, that lack of confidence can destroy a theme, idea or action before it gets the chance to exist. Instead you need to perform that idiotic idea like its the most brilliant thing you’ve ever thought of and hope the people watching don’t mistake what you’re doing for an actual psychological breakdown.