There are a ton of folks who consider jumping into stand-up comedy who have never even been to a comedy open mic.
I know why this happens because it happened to me.
At the time I felt that I already knew what I needed to know about comedy open mics and had determined that I didn’t need to check it out in advance.
I had watched a ton of stand-up comedy on TV. I watched every possible interview with famous comedians. I read a dozen or more books about famous comedians and their struggles to make it.
And I basically memorized every major book on developing a stand-up comedy act that was available at the time as well as attending classes and workshops.
I just needed to get on stage and start the process of becoming a stand-up comedy legend! Or at least that’s nonsense that I had in my head at the time.
With that said, let’s get started, keeping this in mind:
I’m not going to talk about bringer shows or any other type of requirements that may be involved with actually getting stage time for a comedy open mic.
What I am going to talk about is why you really need to check it out first and what you should be looking at closely when you do go to one.
Otherwise, I can just about guarantee that you will head directly down the path of severely sucking on stage, just like most other new comedians tend to do.
Why You Need To Check It Out First
Here are the first things that you should be aware when you go to a comedy open mic night:
- While many of the comedian are new, there will some who have been doing the open mic scene for awhile and some who have gone past the open mic scene in their stand-up adventures and use open mics to test out new material.
- The majority of comedians that perform at a comedy open mic are not funny and fall into the category of awful to severely awful, regardless of how long they have been performing.
What I have just shared with you is consistent with what you will experience as an audience member attending virtually ANY comedy open mic ANYWHERE in the world.
Is It An Issue Of Talent? Not Usually…
While there are always those folks who want to become a comedian but only have the comedy talent associated with belly button lint…
Most people who set out to become a comedian have all the comedy talent that they need to slay an audience.
Let me put this another way:
Most of the people who get on stage at a comedy open mic:
- Are funny people in everyday life.
- Have been told by others that they should consider becoming a comedian.
- May already be involved in public speaking or teaching and can already generate laughs when they stand before audiences.
So, if that is the case…
Then how is it that someone can be notably funny when they are not on stage but then suck horrendously when they do get on stage?
I can tell you EXACTLY why it happens and why it will continue to happen.
And whether or not this happens to you will be DIRECTLY related to your ability to comprehend and actually overcome what I am about to share with you in this article.
Big Reasons Why
Here are some major reasons why funny people are not funny at all when they try to become a comedian:
If you are unable or unwilling to use the “conventional” methods and processes that all but guarantee that you will suck as a new comedian, then you are simply not doing stand-up comedy in the manner it is supposed to be done.
Keep in mind that virtually every other comedian before you had to suck and suffer and you you need to experience that as well.
Forget the fact that it took the better part of the first two DECADES of your life and countless THOUSANDS of interpersonal interactions to give you the sense of humor and comedy talent that you have today.
Nope, none of that counts. If it did, it would be addressed in the educational resources provided by the so-called stand-up comedy “experts”.
As a matter of fact, a person’s natural comedy talent and how to use it as a comedian doesn’t appear in any meaningful, useful or actionable way in ANY mainstream educational resource on how to craft a stand-up comedy routine that actually gets laughs.
Note: I’ll provide anyone a $50 discount for my online course if they can provide me with ANY mainstream resource that demonstrates actionable information about what comedy talent is and how to use it to build a stand-up comedy routine.
To my knowledge, my online course is currently the only one that I know of that actually does just that.
Don’t you find it odd that the very thing that drives funny people to jump into stand-up comedy — their sense of humor and ability to cause others they know and meet to laugh out loud — doesn’t really have a place in the “conventional” development of a stand-up comedy routine?
How can that be? Here’s how…
Forget these observable facts:
- You didn’t have to “write” a single joke to make somebody laugh because of something that you said.
- You didn’t stop to “write” humorous responses to what someone else said and had them read them to get laughs.
- You didn’t need to consider what “joke formula” to use to get the laughs you got.
- You didn’t need to contemplate beforehand what emotion and delivery attributes you needed to employ to get the laughs you got.
- You didn’t need to stop and consider what “character” you needed to become in order to get the best laugh.
And the most important thing that you need to forget is that writing is NOT the same communication mechanism as talking and expressing one’s self.
In the “conventional” world of stand-up comedy, writing is not only the same as talking, it is given an elevated status in the process of developing stand-up material.
Keep this in mind as you attempt to overcome the conditioning and preconceived ideas that will most likely (regardless of what I have to share with you in this article) lead you directly to sucking for an extended period of time as a new comedian:
No amount of marketing or brainwashing can turn flip flops into running shoes or hiking boots.
Writing is NOT talking — not even close.
But that’s what you need to do if you want to become a comedian according to conventional mainstream sources, including accomplished comedians who don’t really have a clue how they overcame the issues of sucking on stage, much less explain to anyone else how to do it.
Probably one of the most fascinating things that I discovered about comedy open mics when I started my stand-up career was that there were a number of comedians who have doing these for 5-10 years and still couldn’t get laughs — certainly not enough to qualify them for any type of performance opportunities outside the open mic scene.
It didn’t matter what open mic I went to in any city or state. It was always basically the same.
Most new comedians last for just a matter of months, ultimately concluding that they are simply not cut out for stand-up comedy despite the fact that they are funny in everyday life and stand-up seems to be a natural progression for the talent that they have offstage.
Here’s a serious question for you:
You want to mow your lawn in 30 minutes or less. You go to expert after expert to find out the “secrets” for mowing your lawn quickly. Each of those experts recommends a special pair of toenail clippers to get the results you want.
How many times are you going to go out into your yard to try to mow it with a pair of toenail clippers before you say “You know, I’m not making any progress. I’m going to ditch this idea.”?
That’s EXACTLY what happens (figuratively speaking) to most people who jump into stand-up comedy.
They don’t really know what’s involved and once they do finally muster the courage to take the leap, they get on stage armed with a pair of toenail clippers that don’t have a damn thing to do with the comedy talent that they have or how to use it effectively to get the laughs they want.
Here’s some cold hard reality that you probably won’t believe until you get onstage yourself and for 3-5 minutes the audience you are trying to perform for does nothing but look at you like you have a horn growing out of your forehead…
You have already been programmed to fail as a comedian no matter how funny you are or think you are.
You have already been indoctrinated by TV, any number of media sources and social media about how stand-up comedy is supposed to be “done”.
Amazingly, the majority of that information comes from people who:
- Have never been on stage a comedian.
- Have never developed a stand-up comedy act that was good enough to go beyond comedy open mics.
- Don’t really know how spoken word comedy works outside what you can find online.
- Are armed only with what I call TV intelligence.
- Tend to merely “echo” common knowledge that is simply restructured in their own words.
If you don’t believe me, just ask one of your neighbors or coworkers what you need to do to develop a funny stand-up comedy routine. Trust me, they have watched enough TV that they too are experts on exactly what you need to do.
One of the reasons that I recommend that EVERYONE who is considering becoming a comedian go to multiple comedy open mics has NOTHING to do with the entertainment value because rarely is there any to be had.
Bad karaoke is FAR funnier than ANY comedy open mic as a general rule.
But I recommend it so that you can see for yourself what YOU will be doing to suck on stage, just like the folks who get on stage and attempt to do stand-up comedy in the most unprepared way possible.
I am not suggesting that doing this will keep you from sucking on stage when it becomes your turn.
But at least if you go to some comedy open mics and see for yourself just how badly this sort of conventional approach works out for the new comedians who get on stage…
Maybe, just maybe you will take the time do some research to try to break out of this programming and find out how to actually harness your own natural ability to make others laugh for the stand-up comedy arena.
One last thing…
In retrospect, I personally don’t regret having not gone to comedy open mics before I started made the decision to jump into stand-up for this reason:
There was no alternative approach to developing and delivering a funny comedy routine when I made the decision to get into stand-up comedy.
There were only more resources to help me suck on stage — and I was already doing that quite well enough on my own.