Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Open Mic Night"....the brave, the few!

It takes some courage to be an aspiring comedian or even a successful stand up comic. Not the kind of courage required to be a war medic, or Coast Guard rescuer, for example, but it's no easy task putting yourself on a stage and trying to turn silence into laughter. You need a lot more than one good joke, but many good jokes, set ups, punchlines, humorous conversation, "crowd work", improv, and sometimes just plain self deprecation to get through a set.

Last night while in NYC I checked out "Broadway Comedy Club", a multiple room venue with several levels of performers from open mic newbies to seasoned pros.

In the comedy "cafe" room I watched several comics try out their material on the crowd.....that is if 16 people actually constitute a "crowd". It was a small room, so no disrespect.

I noticed the funniest of the bunch seemed to be the ones who took......their.....time...... Several of them rushed to their punch lines as if they couldn't wait to get it over with.  Maybe they think that silence is the worst thing they can hear....but sometimes it just means people are listening.

Because I can't help but support other performers, for a couple of the slightly awkward souls I threw in a "sympathy" laugh as did others. And when they were doing their "so, where are you from?" routine I tried to shout out an answer...never the truth, but that's okay. It's none of their business anyway.....(I'm kidding.)

I do remember one amusing guy by the name of Drake. Looked like with his baby face he could get away with anything. And he took his time, was confident and relaxed on stage, which seemed to make the audience comfortable.

For anyone reading this and thinking you may want to try out your hand at stand up comedy, I say give it a shot. You just might have what it takes. Plus, the world needs more funny people. 

I have performed ensemble improv and can say it is such a rush!....Terrifying at times, but definitely worth the experience. It definitely helped me that I had improv training at Stella Adler Academy and Second City. Many people think you can't learn to be funny, but that is wrong, you varying degrees of success, but you can. I don't know if I will ever try open mic but many of my comedic friends have, including my friend and longtime comedian Joey Garza and a newbie, my cousin Amy Ress, and I hear she is good! Maybe I can convince her to try here....if she can make North Dakotans laugh in below zero weather she can probably crack Vegas tourists too.

One more thing, don't set yourself up for failure. Do yourself a favor and attend an open mic night or two first before attempting to actually appear in one. Most cities have at least a couple of open mic nights a week. 

Also, group or "ensemble improv" as its called, is also a great way to get into performing comedy. There is less pressure in ensemble improv than in standing in the spotlight all alone. Many comedy clubs offer seminars and classes in both stand up and improv comedy.This is how many successful and some famous stand up comics, writers, and comedic actors have gotten their start.

I've always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from
the soul saying, "Ain't that the truth."  ~Quincy Jones

The Industry Room at Broadway Comedy Club

Joey Garza - L.A. Comic  

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