November 20th, 2009
I’m sitting in a sushi restaurant eating miso soup and drinking green tea before I go to an open mic. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Open mics are glorified rehearsals for comics. Generally, they're held in coffee shops, bars, seedy comedy clubs and I can’t omit the Moroccan restaurant in midtown that lends their dank wood paneled basement that takes you back to the sophistication of a key party in your parent’s 1970’s basement. Usually the cast of characters ranges from a comic possessing intimidating brilliance to a hobo type that was told by one random stranger(in sympathy) that he was funny back in the mid 80’s. It’s like the gym. You don’t really want to go but are always glad that you did.
As you sit with your notes with other creative types at these open mics, there is a subtle sense of camaraderie as angst ridden artists collectivity think the unspoken, “Why the hell do we do this to ourselves?” For most of us, really pursuing some type of comedic career...we don’t have a choice. If you ask any successful comic how you can succeed in this often grueling craft, the answer is universal: Stage time. That is the only way to perfect the art form. It doesn’t matter if your writing rivals George Carlin. If you don’t hit these mics to practice..you will never be great at a comedy club or another appealing venue.
More benefits to open mics:
• It’s great networking with other comics. You find out about reputable shows around town that are looking for talent. Even sharing the stage with the questionable people might give you a tinge of confidence about your own ability.
• Comics are not known for laughing at the jokes of other comics. Just how we roll. If our material does muster up some audible joy from a fellow comedian, that’s a good sign. The truth is, trying out bits on a silent audience is great training for just rolling through your set even if a “real” audience finds your jokes below par.
• You can make friends who are on Facebook and ask them to read our blog.
• 10% of the population is unemployed. In most cases, there is a 100% unemployment rate at the mics. There’s a comfort to that.
• You can film yourself and brutally critique your material and body at a later time.
• Often there is beer within arms reach. Comedians like beer. A lot
I hope I didn't scare anyone off who wants to dive into the world of comedy. Come join me at the Moroccan restaurant mic and we can smoke their hookahs and then wonder why there is a sign on the bathroom door that says “No Smoking”.
If you take one thing away from the world of open mics..let it be this. It hurts. That means it’s working.