Why is the guy who runs open mic night such a jerk?

Enduring the process of figuring out how to sign up for open mic can be more painful than a first-timer’s experience on stage.  Why is the guy in charge already mad?  The show hasn’t even started.  His job is a tough one because he’s trying to put together a professional show with a room full of amateurs.  There are new people every week and most of them are clueless.

Beginner comics can be very delusional.  Imagine new people walking into not only a new job, but a new career and trying to establish themselves in the first few minutes.  Toss in the fact that most of them are guys in their early twenties who have more DUI’s than college credits.  Sometimes they show up in crazy outfits with wacky props and crack what they consider a joke five seconds after shaking hands.  They brought two dozen people to the show who they guarantee “will drink’a couple of buckets!” and they want to know why they only get four minutes of stage time.  Meanwhile, the guy in charge is trying to find a way to shuffle the other two or three dozen loyal, though sometimes thinly-talented regulars onto a list that will hold a show together.  There’s a lot going on, so don’t blame him if he’s a little too busy to chat about your hopes and dreams.

Often a professional comic is the one left with the duty of organizing this mess.  He’s not doing it because his career has taken off.  Successful headliners don’t fight over this honor because they’re either making money at a gig or able to take a night off.  The guy running open mic doesn’t have this luxury so instead of going to the game with his friends, he’s stuck explaining what the light means to a clown who thinks he’s going to be Andy Kaufman and a large black woman with three stage names.

If you’re just starting out, don’t try to be funny during the pre-show meeting.  In fact, don’t even talk.  If you have any questions, just ask one of the other comics who looks like they belong.  The guy running open mic should only hear you from the stage and if you have any potential at all, you’ll eventually get his attention.

This first dose of showbiz is only the beginning to the rudeness you’ll encounter along the way up the comedy food chain.  If you start taking things personally this early on, you’ll be in therapy long before you’re successful enough to afford it.  Brush off whatever rudeness that might be targeted at you and after a few months you’ll start to be annoyed by these new guys who strut in thinking they’re God’s gift to comedy, too.  In the meantime, go give a big fat tip to the bartender who has to hear the show every week.

For tips on how to evolve from an open mic comic into one who earns money and eventually a living, try reading my book, Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage.

Advertisements

About Rob Durham

With an English Degree, three years as a doorman at the Columbus Funnybone, over a decade of stand-up experience, and a recent certification in teaching high school English class, writing a book seemed like the next inevitable step for Rob Durham. The son of a coach, Rob has an excellent ability to teach and explain things in the easiest and most direct way possible. His (often labeled ridiculous) memory allows him to think of every possible situation that a new comic might face because at one point he was there too. Rob gives an inside look at comedy that doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges every performer faces. Without ego and the myth that “anyone can do it” Rob gives the reader a true feel of what living the so-called dream feels like, from preparing for that first open mic night to touring the country. View all posts by Rob Durham

2 responses to “Why is the guy who runs open mic night such a jerk?

  • Ryan

    I thought my 3 stages names were pretty good…guess not.

  • Wade

    From some one who ran open mic and semi booked shows this is funny!!! You are right on I did not want to hear there joke while I was trying to get enough info to intro them.

    I was in a great place. I never wanted to be a touring comic. It just wasn’t enough money for me. Many weeks I made more money than the headliner because I was getting paid by the door deal and we have a GREAT FARM TEAM who where FUNNY and DREW people even after their 3rd time!!!

    But I learned when we were going to have 20 people in a four hour show to qualify for contest in the MAIN SHOW ROOM always bring a Hot Chic to help you deal with the comics, get there intros organized and it seemed if I had a REAL hot chic most of them would get the message and not try to be a cock blocker!!! lolol BUT SOME DID!!!

    Great Stuff Rob I recommend any one want to develop get your book and read your blog!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: