I’ve been doing stand up comedy for about a year now. Plus or minus a few months due to time abroad. But I was totally still writing that entire time and being hilarious, in general. During my time in the New York that was before, as in pre-March, I had been doing open mics one or two times a week at least, trying out new material and practicing the old stuff etc.
Open mics are a staple of any burgeoning comedian’s lifestyle. It’s where you work out the jokes that will ultimately make you famous, it’s where you make friends with other comics, it’s a way to potentially book shows, and it’s also a way to humble yourself when you bomb the hell out. There are good mics and bad mics. What I find, is some comics end up finding a “crowd”. They find a base somewhere in the city where they make friends that are a consistent source of support. I found this at the Cellar Mic at Abigail.
Unfortunately this mic is on hiatus, but it used to be my home base. I would make sure to go weekly on Wednesday nights at 8pm in Brooklyn. I wasn’t even back for an entire month before we stopped performing at Abigiail, and then performed at one potential new venue. I stopped hearing anything afterwards. The host/MC/coordinator is Brian. He is one of the reasons why I loved this mic so much. He lent an incredibly supportive voice to an incredibly young (in terms of comedy years), naive, and easily flattered female comic. My first night that I went the words of praise that he gave me really encouraged me to press on. I made the Cellar Mic my home base. I made friends who I still chill and do mics with to this day.
But now it’s gone. I’ve been in search of a proper home for awhile now. A mic that I can do weekly, possibly make friends, and really have a chance to improve on my act. When trying new material it really helps to have a regular place where you can feel comfortable, so that when that joke about that awkward sex dream involving a parent doesn’t go over well, it’s not such a blow to your ego. “You’ll win them over next time, just throw Freud in it somewhere,” you can assure yourself.
I’ve been hunting for a new permanent mic over the past few weeks. One that I’ve started to go to regularly again is to Casual Sketch at Identity Bar (East 6th Street btw A & B) which I have mentioned before in a previous posting. Casual is a great mic despite the Manson Family like basement where it takes place. Leanne, the host for five years running, keeps things going smoothly and sets up a great supportive atmosphere where she encourages comics to stay for the entire show, as opposed to the common practice of taking off right after your set. The show is only an hour as well, and she runs a tight ship. I find that I tend to do alright at Casual, but I don’t go every week.
I’ve also been to EastVille Comedy Club (East 4th Street btw 3rd and 2nd Avenue) a couple times. They have mics Monday through Friday nights starting around 6 or so. While it doesn’t have the family atmosphere that I crave, I’ve seen some quality people here. I’ve both excelled and bombed on that stage, and it is really dependent on the crowd that shows up. It is a real comedy club so don’t be surprised if you have to sign away your first born child for a Corona.
For insomniacs and other breeds of night owl there are two weekly mics on Monday & Tuesday 11pm, at the People’s Improv Theater (PIT) (East 24th Street btw Park & Lex). I’ve only stayed up late enough for this once, because I used to have a regular ol’ 9-5, but it’s a fun atmosphere. Sets are short, and things are kept moving and timely. I know some people who really enjoy performing here.
Ultimately, I am still hoping that the Cellar Mic makes a triumphant return. In the meantime I will be roaming around the city like an old time-y street urchin with a song in her heart, begging for laughs. You should attend mics as well, dear reader. Often at open mics comics just end up performing for each other and it is always incredibly exciting (and rare) to have a legit audience. Open mics usually only have a one drink minimum in lieu of an entry fee. Let’s face it you were going to get trashed anyway to make it all seem funnier. Comics feel the same way, not necessarily about their jokes but about their lives.
Photo Credit: Shop Down City