Before You Go To An Open Mic
I’ve been getting my sea-legs back in stand-up comedy and been adventuring out into the open mic scene here in Phoenix. I wanted to point out a few tips that might help as we all start hitting the mics, getting booked, or producing live shows again!
1. First Off, Be Kind!
Be kind to fellow comedians, bookers, bartenders literally just please be kind to everyone surrounding the scene. The poor staff that has to hand out drinks and hear just horrible things said into a mic. Just, it is hard for everyone.
2. Follow The Rules!
Might sound silly but every booker and venue will have slightly different rules. This is something I struggled with understanding when I was younger. Every booker and venue is just trying to make things run smoothly and make sure this benefits everyone. Sure one place might let you have all the free soda you want and the other place might charge you the full price. This can also be said how the show runs as simple as one showrunner gives you the light at 1 minute and another showrunner gives you the light at 30 seconds. Just go in and do not be afraid to ask very simple questions. You want to know the rules before you accidentally break them.
3. Host Something!
I have mentioned this a lot but if you are new and want to get good fast, then host something. Host your own open mic or simply ask a running open mic if you can guest host sometimes. It is easy to get burned out when you are hosting an open mic with 45 comics on it. So having someone guest host can really take that pressure off and let the showrunner recharge their batteries. For example, a friend of mine wanted to get better at hosting so they posted on Facebook and went around town just mentioning they wanted to host more. They not only hosted open mics but also got to host at one of the local clubs.
4. Watch Other Comics!
I think this is important for you and the comic you watch. I try to watch comics I have never seen before. I am a big fan of comedy so when I see someone for the first time and they have a joke that hits deep in my soul I LOVE it. Also, keep in mind that sometimes it is hard to get 3 people to watch you perform and when a comic is brand new that can be really soul-crushing. So showing your support to others is important. Plus, what if they become your favorite comedian or maybe your writing partner? Give people a chance.
5. Write Your Set Day Before!
I like to decide my set the day before so I can spend all day thinking about those exact jokes. I like to just have that in the back of my head to ponder. Maybe I can think of a fun way for them to all connect. I find that if I show up to an open mic and scramble to put a set together it shows in my act. If you are new I would suggest maybe even running through them on the way to the venue in the car or into the mirror at home.
6. Start An Open Mic!
Look at the list online of open mics and see what is missing. Is there nothing on Tuesdays? Perfect! Find a bar you do not normally visit and scope it out! I suggest a place that you do not normally hang out with because you want it to be all business with the managers and owners. Very much a deal where you put butts in seats and they give you some free time to do whatever. Because if something goes south like a comedian going on a hard-to-stomach rant and that bridge gets burned at least you didn’t also lose your favorite place to drink and hang out.
7. Do Not Compare Yourself To Others!
At open mics, you will see comedians of all levels. Comics working on their A material and comics working on their new stuff. That all can seem overwhelming and stressful. Comedy is so random and often feels like straight-up luck. So do not get pulled into toxic conversations or let your brain say toxic stuff to you. Be a cheerleader for fellow comedians, be excited they are growing and doing cool stuff! Do not be upset they got that gig and you didn’t. Be happy for them and be supportive of the new comedians trying to just figure this all out.
8. Get Advice!
One way to get better is to get advice from comedians you enjoy. But take it all with a grain of salt because comedians all have different paths. You ask a comic that mostly works the road advice it will be from that point of view. If you ask a club comic advice it will be from that point of view. But I say ask them all advice and melt it all together into a grilled cheese and bite in!