The fine gentlemen at Rittenhouse Comedy (Paul Goodman, Jack Martin, and Brian Finnell) have put together this handy list of do’s and don’ts for comedians performing at open mics. These guys know a thing or two about running an open mic – you can see for yourself every Tuesday at 9pm at Noche (1901 Chestnut St.)
Over the past two years, I have performed on numerous open mics, produced comedy showcases, and been part of the Rittenhouse Comedy team running a weekly open mic every Tuesday at 9 pm at Noche (1901 Chestnut). Before running a show, I had no idea how challenging it was to organize a weekly comedy show that hopefully makes the comedians, audience and venue happy. Here is what I have learned through trial and error both on and off stage.
10. Don’t ask when you are going to go before the show starts. The comedians running the show need to collect the 30-40 names on the list and quickly come up with a line up that has BOTH the comedians and audience members interest in mind. It’s not a meritocracy. It deflates the energy in the room by having 5 consecutive comedians with little to no experience start a show. That being said all open mics try their best to give new guys a chance to perform in a “good spot.” However, I have learned a lot about myself as a comedian and person by performing at Raven at 1am. Sometimes those lessons are rewarding like making a tired audience laugh after 4 hours of comedy and some are on a different level like $5 PBR/whiskey shots help you calm your nerves and also forget your material.
9. If you have some type of special request (work, bus, you brought a girl you hope to hook up with), let the guy running the list know ahead of time so they can make a note, but realize unless you support the open mic on a weekly basis it may not be able to be accommodated.
8. Find out how long the set times will be and when the light will be given. Most of the time the light is a cell phone that signifies you have one minute left. Wrap it up in that one-minute. As noted, there are 30-40 comedians on the list.
7. Do not say anything negatively about the room and/or the number of audience members in the room. It’s disrespectful to the comedians running the show and the audience members that have stayed to see you perform. If you do not like to perform in front of small audiences, simply ask for your name to be crossed off the list.
6. Outstanding advice from the hysterical James Hesky. “The only thing I can control is my performance and not my placement in the line up. With that in mind, all I can do is try to kill it each and every time I get on stage.”
5. If you need to leave before your turn, let the guy running the list know. It’s embarrassing to announce a person who is no longer there.
4. Be nice and funny in that order.
3. If you’re new to the scene, stay around for a few comedians after you perform. Comedians’ function as audience members and it’s frustrating for a comedian to ask to go by a certain time and then not stay to support their fellow comics.
2. If you have an issue to address with the comedians running the room, address it with them directly AFTER the show through email, a phone call or preferably in person. Passive-aggressive Facebook post do little to help your cause and the morale of the comedy community.
1. Feel fortunate that you are a new comedian in an awesome comedy scene. At the time of this article, there are 6 free “night of” sign up open mics in the city of Philadelphia. Have a good time, support your fellow comedians, and thank you for your support.