One of the most common problems for people starting in standup is finding somewhere to perform. Bigger cities will usually have a lot of comedy open mic nights, but it can be harder to find spots if you don’t live in one of those places.
The first thing I learned was that it’s actually pretty hard to find open mic nights through Google. The reason for this is that the scene in any area will change a lot over time, and keeping an up to date list of nights takes ongoing effort. So if you happen to find a website listing local comedy nights, there’s a good chance it will be hopelessly out of date (although I try to keep an up to date list of London open mics, I’m sure I’ve missed some). Also the people who run the nights often don’t make web pages for them because it takes a lot of effort. So, in this case, Google isn’t your friend.
Facebook is going to be more helpful. The people who run open mic nights are much more likely to create a Facebook page to promote it (because that’s easier than building a web site) and this is usually where you’ll find information about how to get a spot.
You’ll also find that in a lot of areas there will be Facebook groups for local comedians, which will be a good place to find nights. Either that, or more general local groups that have information about all open mic nights in the area including music, poetry, and other bullshit. You might also find anything-goes nights that let comedians, musicians and others perform on the same bill.
So, the short answer to how you find a comedy open mic night near you is to search on Facebook. You’ll find pages for the nights themselves, or local groups that will point you in the right direction.
Another option is to use an online open mic directory. There are a few sites in the UK that can help you find spots around the country – although they don’t always have the most up to date information because the open mic organisers don’t add the details of their own nights.
Some of the UK directories I know of are:
Open Comedy – Focused entirely on stand-up comedy, and not just for open mic nights. Worth signing up if you’re interested in getting involved in the business.
Open Mic Finder – Covers all types of open mic nights, but seems to lean more towards music than comedy.
Spotlz – Seems to be some kind of spot booking service, one or two London nights use it but there’s not a lot of information on the site and it doesn’t seem to be very popular.
Open Comedy is the best of the bunch as far as I can tell, but your mileage may vary.