Open Mics: Learning to Love Them

Posted by dylanavi on September 5, 2013 Blog | | No comments

I have been doing stand-up comedy for about 2 ½ years now and like EVERY comedian EVER, I started at an open mic. It was Super Bowl Sunday, 2011 and I had just been laid off the week before. I had been playing with the thought of trying stand-up for a couple of years, but never thought I had the time to do it. Well, I do now!

So I did it. I prepared 3 minutes and got on stage. I was nervous as hell, but I had fun. Got some laughs and even had a heckler. When pondering what I would do if my daughter was to walk in on me while watching porn, she said “You invite her to join!” Uh… no. But thank you for trying to fuck up my joke.

Open mics are necessary and you need to learn to love them. The only way you know a joke is funny is by telling it to a bunch of strangers who don’t know who you are and could care less. If they laugh then you may have something. You actually won’t know until you do that several times. Professional joke telling is a lot, I mean A LOT of trial and error.

Within the group of comics at a given mic, you will usually find a few professionals, guys who do this regularly but still have a day job and a lot of newcomers. It’s kind of like a batting cage or driving range. Everyone there from all different skill levels honing their craft.

Then there is the crowd. Oh, the wonderful crowd. Filled with a few friends (maybe), a group who came to support their friend going up for the first time, a bunch of comics in the back talking shit and a homeless guy. You never really know what to expect out of the crowd and can’t take too much from their reaction (good or bad). It’s just practice.

It is a fantastic experiment in the human psyche. Who is listening? Do they care? Do you care? What is your purpose in saying what you are saying? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you working on a new bit? Do you have a new tag for an old bit? What happens when a joke that has worked the last 3 times all of the sudden doesn’t work this time? What did you do differently? Was it you? Or was it the crowd. Sometimes it is the crowd. Sometimes you just fail.

Embrace the need to fail. It is the only way you learn in this business. It can be very tough and painful at times. Like getting kicked in the balls, the pain eventually goes away and you become a stronger comic because of it. If it doesn’t go away then maybe this isn’t meant for you. Or you should see a doctor.