Is There Any Way To Bypass Stand-up Comedy Open Mic Nights?

stand-up comedy open mic alternativesAnother question that seems to come up from time to time is this:

Is there any way to bypass stand-up open mic nights?

The answer is yes, but there’s a bit more involved than meets the eye.

Let me start by saying this:

Many new comedians are under the impression that the reason they don’t do well at stand-up comedy open mic nights is because the audiences there aren’t big enough.

The reality is that a bigger audience won’t make any comedian funnier if they don’t know how to develop and deliver a high impact stand-up comedy routine in the first place.

They end up sucking in front of more people.

Another reason that new comedians look to bypass stand-up comedy open mic nights is because unless you live in the biggest cities, there are usually not an ample quantity of open mic performing opportunities.

In other words, they recognize that more stage time is needed in order to develop a solid stand-up comedy routine quickly.

However if they do not really know what they are doing when it comes to developing and delivering a stand-up comedy routine that generates frequent laughs, more stage time tends to offer no advantage to the comedian at all.

In other words they effectively squander the valuable stage time they are afforded at comedy open mic nights, whether they are performing twice a month or four times per week.

I don’t recommend that any comedian bypass stand-up comedy open mic nights. They can be of significant value to the comedian who knows what they are doing.

A better approach in my opinion is to supplement comedy open mic performances with any other type of performing opportunities that are available.

What do I mean by that?

For comedians who focus on developing and delivering adult stand-up comedy act, there’s really only one option available to get around open mic nights and that is to promote comedy shows independently.

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The problem with that approach usually involves sustainability and here’s why:

Most self-promoted stand-up comedy shows (especially those set up by new comedians) are terrible, usually involving a cadre of other inexperienced or unfunny comedians who simply cannot entertain audiences at a high level.

Those shows tend to die nearly as fast as they are put together.

Comedy clubs get away with this in their open mic nights because they force comedians to bring people to shows for stage time AND they usually have several pro comedians in the line up to shore up the show.

For comedians who are able to develop and deliver clean stand-up comedy material at a high level, virtually any assembled group of people can be a stand-up comedy audience.

These comedians are not solely dependent on comedy club open mics to move forward in their stand-up comedy endeavors.

One of the more exciting ways that I have been exposed to for getting stage time and actually get paid for that stage time was developed by one of my students working with a team of other new clean comedians.

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It is not my place or desire to tell any comedian what type of act they should or should not develop. That decision lies strictly in the hands of the performer themselves.

But what I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is this:

There are far more performing (and income) opportunities when it comes to non-comedy club venues, events, etc. than there are in the comedy club or comedy club style one nighter market by themselves.

That is the main reason that I added the Corporate Comedy Secrets module as an additional resource in my online course — not to discourage comedians from pursuing the comedy club market, but simply as an alternative option for those who may want to explore a less traveled and more lucrative path with potentially many more performing opportunities when it comes being rewarded for the stand-up comedy entertainment product they choose to offer.

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But make no mistake:

Every comedian who can deliver a powerful stand-up comedy act that kills audiences is a true champion, no matter what “flavor” of stand-up they choose to deliver.


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5 Stand-up Comedy Lessons - Killer Stand-up Online Course
This training module intro page provides comedy lessons on why conventional stand-up comedy writing methods don’t work.

8 Replies to “Is There Any Way To Bypass Stand-up Comedy Open Mic Nights?”

  1. Yeah,, just really a lot to unpack here to get back tote original question. Also, I believe, in my experience, that open mics are necessary, but absolutely, in no way a good barometer of your skills as a comic. Here’s why;
    1. Politics.The same rotating group of dregs go to the same mics, every night there is one anywhere in my city. Cool, lot’s of time to ‘work out their material,,,for the next open mic. They snake the sign up sheets and pass them amongst each other,,,then it’s like, “O.K., so Erik, you’ll be#18.”
    Another mic at a really cool venue, does a bucket pull, but only in the sense that the emcee pulls the names out of the bucket, and the same jokers (no pun) are up first…..then, when I do get up, it’s the typical “local comics’ walking around, staring at the 3 minute set on their phone, walking in and out of the room,, then they take off when they’re done,,,
    It goes like this: these people show up to ‘play comedian’. I don’t know if they started doing this with the hopes of finding success, but if so, it’s long gone now. This is just their thing. And that’s fine. We all need hobbies. But there’s an immense amount of work that goes into trying to ascend,, Social Media and constant content creation, monitoring your website, coming up with clever ways to develop relationships with the people in the city who matter (Club owner, radio people, Improv (and I hate Improv, but I’m learning skills),,,,writing and getting up and being funny is 25% of it. It’s lonely, it’s hard,,,,,,,,,,,but those open mic people could care less about their appearance, they all run together in their sets,,I feel like I’m listening to the same 3 min set, done at different degrees of mediocrity, with a couple exceptions who are clever and could be pro-level,,,,,,,,
    There’s just so much talk of ‘community’ and ‘cultivating local talent’,,,I work at one of the Comedy Clubs,,,the big one,, just within the week and the owner, who likes to make such a big deal of that, basically acknowledged that it was nonsense,,,,,

    I’m pushing every button, making every call, writing down names,, I even wrote a book just to have something else to help me stand out.

    I’m doing my EPK, but without any real shows under my belt, I don’t have reviews and press clippings,,,, and, I’m not a clean comic. I would love to be,,,,but I’m not. It’s not even about not wanting to be disingenuous,, I don’t make filthy dick jokes and what not,, I have things of substance but there’s a lot of calm, calm sarcasm then some crazy nut job thing thrown in which catches everyone off guard,,,,,,I know it’s good. I know it’s unique in a way that is completely different than any of the open mic people BUT if I had an audience of real people, who showed up and I was a feature, , I’d have automatic credit and could do what I do,,,and then if it went over the cliff, and it won’t, then I could concede that ‘if I can’t make a smaller group laugh, how could I a larger?’
    Because local open mic comics are not the same as a regular audience.

  2. Thank you again Steve. This information will be helpful.

    I will still keep using Open mic nights to develop my skills.

    But to get my name out there as a clean comic. I will work on getting my own show with comedian, that I know will work for a clean but funny show…

    Pismo Beach, Ca. 93449

  3. I, too, lived in an area where comedy clubs are not an option. I compensated for that by accepting opportunities to emcee, toast, introduce, thank, group-lead, do committee work — any small opportunity to “say a few words” that provided opportunity to provide a few laughs. I also used to speak at church and community church events occasionally. I am very interested in the possibilities offered by corporate speaking. I believe that there are opportunities to practice or perform all around us if we are open-minded and creative — even coffee with friends provides an audience; sometimes we just need to think beyond the FORMAL audience..

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