5 Things Not to Do at Your First Open Mic

Each week at the open mic I attend there’s usually one or two new comics. These are the common mistakes they almost all seem to make…

1. Taking too long to get to the stage:  You know how every comedian’s Netflix special starts with them making the long walk to stage while their introduction is being given? This isn’t for open mic. You need to be a step or two away from the stage be the time the host says your name. Stop with the pre-set rituals in the back of the room and watch how others time it better.

2. Lowering the mic after a punchline:  For some reason this makes you look ridiculous–like you’re cueing the audience to laugh after your joke. It’s very distracting so don’t make it a habit. Hold the mic like other comics, too–not a musician/hip-hop artist.

3. Over-excessive movements: As someone who isn’t proud of the “physical comedy” I did the first 4 years of my career, trust me–whatever you’re doing, whether it gets laughs or not, is going to cost you more gigs than it gets you. Just trust me. Stay on your feet.

4. “Shock” humor: This is typically a joke that you’ve been sitting on for years. Your friends think it’s hilarious and say, “Anyone that doesn’t like that shit is just too PC!”  Well, they’re wrong. You’re failing to pull off a topic of a high degree of difficulty. Start with the basics before you ruin the show.

5. Taking anything on stage: Other than a setlist (and you probably shouldn’t need this either if you’re starting out), you don’t need anything else in a sub-5 minute set. The worst was back when smoking was legal inside and open mic comics would wait until they were in front of the mic to light up (this actually happened). You don’t need a drink, your phone, props, etc. You should be able to do a few minutes without the aid of anything else.

*Oh, and move the mic stand out of the way if you take the mic out of it.

For more tips on starting and progressing through the different levels of stand-up comedy as a profession, check out my book Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage which is available on Amazon, Kindle, iTunes, etc.



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

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