So you’ve watched all the Netflix comedy specials and thought to yourself, I could do that, it looks easy! You may have even made your friends laugh at the pub. Why not bring your comedy stylings to the stage. There are Comedy Open Mics everywhere and this is where you start. It could be a coffee shop, the front bar at a pub or if you’re very lucky a comedy venue!
Having run Open Mics across Australia I thought I’d share some of nuggets of wisdom if you are considering getting up at an open mic. I’ve consulted with other experienced comics while writing this article and believe this information will equip you well on your first steps to your own Netflix deal. All of the information will be of a general nature and if you have any specific questions ask the room runner at your local venue.
Find out how the ‘room runs’
Most, if not all open mics will have some kind of online presence. Whether that be via a website, Facebook or some other social media platform. Contact the organisers and ask them, if you need to sign up in advance or on the night, How many minutes will get, When will the host light you and where will they be (getting the light lets you know how long you have left before you’ll be hooked).
You want people to hear you right? I won’t go into technical details but you need to use the Microphone properly. The easiest way to do it is speak into the mic by ensuring it’s no more than 5 centimetres away from your talking hole the entire set! Don’t wave it around like it the Ribbon Gynmastics event at Olympics, it’s how the audience can hear you! Oh and if you are planning to yell something because being louder makes everything funnier, take it away from your mouth a bit please.
Move the Microphone Stand
So you’ve seen every Netflix special, what’s the first thing the comic usually does? They take the microphone out of the mic stand and move the stand to the side. Do that! If you stand behind the mic stand it’d like a barrier between you and the audience or at least a distraction from your killer material.
Stick to the time limit!
Stick to the time limit you have been given. It’s your responsibility to make sure you don’t go over time. Practice your set at home but remember it will be different on the night, hopefully you’ll get laughs and pause to enjoy them! If I have a 5 minute set, I’ll prepare 4 and hope I get a minute of laughs or some off the cuff material. It doesn’t matter if you do 4 minutes, it really does matter if you do 6!
'If I have a 5 minute set, I’ll prepare 4 and hope I get a minute of laughs'
There will generally be a lot of comics waiting for their spot, the venue probably wants to get rid of all the dirty comics and well just don’t run the ‘light’. "What is the light?" I hear you ask, great question! A room runner will generally have a method of telling you how much time you have left. For example at my open mic, I show the comic the light at 4 minutes and 30 seconds, I will then turn the light on at 5 minutes and if they are still going at 5:30 I’ll come on stage and thank them for their set! Please don’t make a MC pull you off stage, no one wants to do that.
Tell everyone it’s your first time!
At most open mics people will tune out if they don’t know you and it really sucks if people are looking at their phones during your first set. If you mention it’s your first time the audience will usually be supportive and curious. Why would they care you ask? Well, everyone remembers their first time.
Being nervous is part of the game.
Everyone gets nervous! It’s normal, some people don’t show it and some have a spew in the toilets before every set. It’s scary, it’s nerve wracking, but when you get that first laugh it will all be a memory.
Written by Simon "Cheersy" Cheers