Birthday gig, and checking out Comedy MoochAbout

Radu Isac, at Comedy MoochAbout

Last week I did a spot at Comedy Virgins on Wednesday. It was one of those “meh” nights that sort of went ok but didn’t really feel like the audience was especially into it. I’m probably being a little harsh on myself, as I had a couple of mates along and they said it went well.

This is exactly why it’s a good idea to record your gigs, so you can get an objective record of the audience’s reaction – your memory plays tricks on you on stage. There have been a few times I convinced myself that a gig was mediocre, but when I listened to the recording there’s plenty of laughter in all the right places.

Anyways. It also happened to be my birthday, and after my set Twix the MC called me back up on stage and made me do a tequila shot while the audience sang to me, which perked me up. There were a few good acts that night, but in particular Lim Hoang really stood out with his angle on being a bemused foreigner in the UK. He got down to the final two of the clap-off, so the audience clearly loved him too.

On Thursday of this week I did a spot at Comedy MoochAbout, a new night in Vauxhall organised by Mouch. His day job is organising events like club nights, and that experience really showed at the gig because despite only being in its third week the whole thing felt every bit as polished as any of the bigger, established new-act nights in London. On top of everything else, it’s the only gig I’ve done where you perform in front of a bona-fide brick wall, which is pretty much the wet-dream of every Seinfeld wannabe.

There was a great line up of acts and a decent sized audience, so the vibe was good. I thought I was going up in the second half of the show, and didn’t hear when Mouch corrected himself and told me it was the first half. So when he introduced me to the audience I wasn’t quite mentally prepared, but all those nights of waiting to be picked out of the hat at random at shows like the Comedy Virgins and Lion’s Den prepare you for this kind of situation, so I got up to speed quickly enough.

My set went pretty well – I was lifted by the good energy in the room, so everything just kind of fell into place. Wouldn’t say I killed, but I did well enough to keep the night bubbling along nicely, and because of a couple of drop-outs I got a little extra time, so I dusted off a couple of well-worn bits to throw in with the current stuff I’m doing, to take the set to seven minutes.

The nice thing about the gig is that it’s very easy for me to get to by public transport, and that meant I could have a few drinks because I wasn’t driving. By the time I went up I was feeling a little loose, and I think that helped, but it’s always a fine line, I’m not experienced enough to go on completely shitfaced and still be able to remember all my material. But that’s something to aspire to.

A great night all in all, with a bunch of acts that I really like, including Jerry Bakewell, Vash Pernikar, Micah Hall, and Luke Chilton. There were a handful of people I’ve not seen before, and they were all good, but Radu Isac, from Romania, really stood out for me as a personal favourite – if you like your comedy dark, check him out.

Mouch, mooching about.

Losing the room at Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion

Robbie Fox/Neuroses – photo by Aaron Shipper

I did a spot at Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion last night, although Sam himself wasn’t there and Basil Jamm took over MC duties. It’s always an interesting night because the show usually takes place in the main bar area of The Cornershop, in the middle of Shoreditch, so even on a Monday it’s busy and you get a random mix of drinkers alongside people (mostly acts and a handful of friends) who are there for the comedy.

Sometimes this goes well, sometimes not so much, and that’s all part of the fun – pro comedians have to perform in all sorts of situations, so the quicker we get used to handing difficult rooms, the better.

I was the penultimate act of the night, so by the time I went up the room had thinned out a bit and people were ready to go home, but there was still a bit of life in the place. The real problem was that that the back of the bar a bunch of drunk guys were talking loudly, heckling the acts a little bit, but most just having their own conversation and distracting everybody. Because it’s a bar and not everybody’s there for the comedy, you can’t really do much about it. People asked them to quieten down but they weren’t interested, and a few of the acts really struggled with it.

On top of this, the front row consisted of a French guy who was there with a couple of English girls, all three a bit drunk. This was a mixed blessing – they were into the comedy and played nicely when acts tried to do crowdwork with them, but they got drunker throughout the night, and one of the girls kept explaining the jokes to the guy. Towards the very end they stopped paying attention entirely and started snogging each other, which was kind of weird when there was a guy shouting jokes into a microphone less than two meters away from them.

So the room was in chaos when it was eventually my turn to take the mic. I had planned to try some new material mixed in with my current set, but by that point I was only really focused on trying not to die horribly – although after watching other acts flounder I wasn’t hopeful.

I didn’t have any plan for dealing with any of this other than steam-rolling my way through. I kept the mic close to my mouth to be as loud as I could without distorting too much, and launched into my set with as much energy as I could muster. It seemed to work, everybody shut up and listened, or if people were still talking I was drowning them out.

I’ve been trying to get better at leaving pauses to give my punchlines time to land, but last night I didn’t leave any space for the hecklers to get a toe-hold, using amplification and pace to power through. It was a pretty messy set, my delivery wasn’t great, but the material was strong enough to get me through and I think I did OK under the circumstances – people listened and they laughed at some of it. I tried one new bit and completely fluffed it, and my closer fell flat, but I didn’t feel like it was a complete disaster.

I didn’t recognise too many of the other acts; I know Mouch and I’ve been bumping into Mike Lash on and off since I started last year. I hadn’t seen Aziz Vora before, but liked his stuff, and the same goes for Arnold Chukwu, but I think the highlight of the show for me was Robbie Fox doing his Neuroses character.

So, bit of an odd night, but those are the breaks. This week’s lesson – figure out some ways of dealing with noisy rooms where people aren’t paying attention to the show. Shouting over them sort of worked, but others have suggested getting them on side with some crowd-work, so that’s something I’ll need to work on.

 

Exploding Virgins of the Comedic Variety

Another two gigs this week, starting on Monday at Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion at The Cornershop bar in Shoreditch. This night is normally run in the main bar area, so as well as people who’ve turned up for the open mic night you also get random drinkers in the audience, which is a mixed blessing.

On this night, however, the bar was busier than usual, so the gig got moved down to the basement room where there were no random drinkers, but a decent turnout all the same.

I’ve been opening with a bit about anti-vaxxers, but I recently decided to drop it because it’s not as punchy as an opener should be. I’m glad I made that call because one of the other acts did a very similar bit, which made the decision to shelve it easier.  It sort of worked OK sometimes, but it was never as strong as I would have liked, and now that I know somebody else is using a similar joke I’m happy to just abandon it entirely.

My set went as well as I could hope for, given that I was on second to last so the audience had thinned out and the room’s energy was flagging. Most of it worked as expected, a few bits fell flat, but it’s all good practice. And thanks to Aaron Shipper who snapped that new photo of me over there in the sidebar.

On Wednesday I was at Comedy Virgins which, being one of the best known bringer nights in London, is always pretty busy for an open mic. Twix was MCing, and Akin Omobitan was on too – I feel like I haven’t been to the Cavendish for a while, so it was good to see two of the regulars doing some new material.

I went up early in the show, third or fourth I think, and I reckon I did a good job – the audience gave me solid laughs all the way through and it felt like a lot of them shouted for me to go through to the clap-off. I think I’ve been in the Comedy Virgins clap-off about five or six times now, and it’s starting to bug me that I’ve never managed to clinch one of those little plastic trophies – always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

I’ve been working on this set a lot over the past couple of months, and that’s really starting to pay off because I can deliver it with confidence. A few people have told me recently that I look like I’ve stepped up a level, and I got similar feedback at this gig too.

I’ve replaced the anti-vax opener with a reliable old bit that I usually follow it up with, and with a bit of tweaking I’ve realised that it works perfectly well as an opener in its own right. The setup takes a while, so it’s about 30 seconds to get to my first punchline, but I messed around with the language a little and now the setup is funny too, although not so much that it derails the bit before I get to the punchline.

I feel like I’ve got most of my current material nailed, and now I need to start trying out new stuff so I can build my set out into a solid 10 minutes. I’m back at Comedy Explosion on Monday, so I’ll be propelling a fresh load of excrement at the brickwork in order to assess its adhesiveness.

 

 

Getting weird in West London – Heavenly Comedy and Battersea Power

Liam Malone opening proceedings at Battersea Power Comedy
I did two spots this week, the first at Heavenly Comedy in Shepherds Bush on Wednesday, and another at Battersea Power Comedy on Thursday.

It’s been a while since I did a spot at Heavenly Comedy, and this was the first time I’ve been to the new venue, The Princess Victoria, a really nice pub with a big upstairs function room where they host the gig. I got there early, so I had a burger in the bar which was pretty decent. 

Apparently there was some trouble with the Tube, so a few people couldn’t make it, including whoever was supposed to bring the mic. Without a mic it’s not a comedy gig, it’s just a bunch of people taking it in turns to shout at a room full of randoms, but we powered through regardless. 

It was a weird night – it kind of reminded me of some of my early open mic gigs where half of the acts were deluded, deranged or just hopeless. It’s not a bringer so there was almost no audience other than the acts, but a couple of locals had wandered in, a twenty-something woman and her mum. The mum clearly didn’t understand that she was at a comedy night and spent the whole time trying to join in the conversation.

Clearly the night was going to be an uphill battle, and any small reaction you could get from the audience was a victory, but it’s all good practice. A bunch of people who’d just been through the Amused Moose comedy course showed up to do their first gig after their showcase night, and to be fair most of them did OK.

I went on first, which was a struggle under the circumstances, but the MC (Maltese guy with dreadlocks, didn’t catch his name) did a solid job of injecting some energy into the room. I ploughed through my current set, steamrolling over the mum when she tried to share her thoughts, and got a few laughs out of the audience. It wasn’t exactly a legendary performance, but it’s always good to rehearse, and in the end I was glad to just get my turn over with so I could relax and watch everybody else.

A woman on roller-blades who seemed to be completely shitfaced rambled on about dick-pics and slut-shaming without any punchlines, and seemed genuinely taken aback that nobody laughed. She completely derailed one of the better act’s closers by falling off her skates and dropping a drink just as he was about to land the punchline. After the gig she tried to start an incoherent conversation with me and wanted to give me a badge with a photo of a dick on it. I politely backed out of that discussion.

I didn’t really know anybody, apart from a Portuguese guy I’ve seen around recently, and Don Biswas, who was very friendly when I first met him last year at another gig.

The next night I went to Battersea Power Comedy, and my wife tagged along to see me for the first time in over a year. It was a good night with some great acts, and it’s a bringer so there was a reasonable audience.

The opener was a Kiwi Paralympic gold medallist (Liam Malone) who had some great material to work with and set things off to a good start. I went up second and did a slightly tweaked version of my current set. I took a risk and dropped my usual opener, instead starting with a bit that takes a while to get to the punchline but always delivers, and that gave me  extra time to try longer versions of the middle bits. Also, I’ve been closing with the racist baby bit, but even though it gets good laughs it’s not been working as a closer because of the way it kind of tails off, so I kept it in but finished on a punchy, reliable one liner that always gets a big laugh.

It all worked well and I got some good feedback after the gig from the MC and some of the other acts.

As well as Liam, some other acts who really impressed me were Dave Muller, who took dick jokes to a whole new level, and Aussie, James O’Connell, who absolutely murdered the room with his alpha big-dog schtick.

Feeling pretty good about it all at the moment. I’m getting much more comfortable with my material, and that’s helping me to improve my delivery, and I’ve been getting some good feedback from people, with a few of them telling me I’m looking a lot better up there. My wife seemed surprised at how different my material was from a year ago, and impressed at how much more polished I look on stage – but it all comes down to practice, if keep going up and working on it you can’t help but get better at this.

I think my current goal is to keep polishing this stuff, make it even tighter, but try and build it up to a solid 15 and then 20 minutes.

Next week I’m at Sam Rhode’s Comedy Explosion in Shoreditch on Monday, then the Cavendish on Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

Look mum, no notes!

Mouch doing his first MC spot.

Last night I went Back to We Are Funny Project in Dalston for the first time since they took their August break. Feeling confident after a good night at Angel Comedy RAW last week, I decided to go bareback and do my current set without any notes at all.

The MC gave me a nice intro, something along the lines of “This next guy is proof that we believe in freedom of speech at this venue – I don’t know what he’ll do tonight but he’s usually pretty far over the line…” It’s always interesting to get an idea for how other people view your material, and if that’s the kind of reputation I’m getting then I’m happy with that.

The set went pretty well I think – I didn’t forget any of my stuff and I felt comfortable enough with the material that I was able to concentrate a little more on delivery and stage presence. Almost everything got a laugh (although I still need to figure out how to end Racist Baby properly) and the set was almost exactly 5 minutes long.

A lot of the stuff in this set is condensed versions of longer bits, so I think I could comfortably make the same material run to 7 minutes if I needed to, and even 10 minutes or more when I add in other polished stuff I’ve got on the same topic.

It felt like a strong gig, and the MC, who’s seen me performing for about a year, told me I looked like I’d stepped up a level, which is good to hear.

I was the fourth act of the night, so I could kick back and enjoy the rest of the show. It was a pretty good night all round – Mouch and Helena, who I know through this blog, were both there. Mouch was MCing the second half of the show as he recently did WAFP’s MCing course, and did a decent job of it (when he could be bothered to remember the acts’ names). Helena is still pretty new and smashed her 16th gig with some really strong bits.

Apart from the headliner, Brandon Palmer, the act who really stood out for me was Mary O’Connell who blew the room away and earned an instant invite from the MC to WAFP’s polished material night. Keep an eye out for her.

I don’t want to jinx it, but there’s a chance I might have been offered a paid 10-15 minute middle spot at the end of the month. More news on that if/when the details firm up, but in the meantime I’m trying to get as much stage time as possible before then. Next week I’m at Heavenly Comedy in Shepherds Bush on Wednesday and Battersea Power Comedy on Thursday, then the week after I’m doing Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion in Shoreditch and Comedy Virgins in Stockwell.

They finally let me on Angel Comedy RAW

Headliner, Toussaint Douglas, bringing it home.

I’ve been trying to get a spot at Angel Comedy’s RAW night for over a year. They run the famous Bill Murray comedy venue in Islington, and RAW is the new act/material night they run in the upstairs room of the nearby Camden Head pub.

This week I finally got to do a spot there, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular night. Yes, it’s an upstairs pub room, but it feels like a proper comedy club, and that’s helped by the fact that they manage to pack the room with a lively audience, without relying on the acts to bring people.

The lineup was pretty small compared to the nights I normally do, just eight of us on the bill. I was second to last of the night, and happy to be there because I’d had a bad migraine all afternoon, which really takes the wind out of my sails, so I was grateful to have some extra time to get myself in the zone. There’s a little green room for the acts to wait in before they go on (and by green room, I mean a small corridor by the fire-escape) and it was good to be able to hide out there away from the audience while I cleared my head.

All of the other acts were solid, and I was a little worried that I’d be the weakest link because I wasn’t feeling great but, once the MC called me up, my twitchiness evaporated and I got into the moment. Having a good opener that you don’t need to think about really helps with this. Whatever you’re planning on doing with the rest of the set, if you know you can do your first minute on auto-pilot, that gets you off to a strong start and gives you time to get into your stride before you get to the parts where you have to concentrate a bit harder on what you’re doing.

As it turned out the whole set went brilliantly. I made a conscious effort to be more relaxed and conversational with my delivery, to avoid sounding too rehearsed. It’s hard to pull this off, because the material is very rehearsed. A trick I used was to focus on one audience member in the second row and managed to convince myself I was having a conversation directly with her instead of performing for an audience. It felt like it worked better, but I don’t know if it came across like that.

They laughed at everything, there were no awkward pauses while I waited for laughter that wasn’t coming. I closed on the Racist Baby bit and that went down well, although I need to work on it more because the punchline gets a decent laugh but it feels like I’m ending the story halfway through when I finish the set.

I really wanted to do well at this gig, and in the end I think I did a decent job .

I didn’t recognise any of the other acts apart from Jamie Oliphant, who opened the show and put in his usual strong performance. In the bar I had a chat with Mango Stone, another mid-life soldier, who’s been going on and off for about five years – she delighted and disgusted the crowd with her graphic exploration of her aging muff.

I also got chatting to Joe Yaffie, a very new act who did an amazing job considering it was his sixth gig ever – after he watched my set he realised I was the guy who writes this blog, because he’d read about the racist baby bit in an earlier post. That made me realise that I’ve kept this thing semi-anonymous because when I started out I didn’t really want people to know I was doing it, but I think I’m OK with putting my real name on it now.

Next week I’ll be at We Are Funny Project on Monday.

Gig Count: 55

 

 

You need to give inspiration time to strike

In an earlier post I wrote about my “racist baby” bit, which came from the real experience of my kid being scared of black people when he was really little. I’ve always liked the premise because the idea of this tiny, innocent baby being innately racist was funny to me, but in practice it’s a mediocre bit – the payoff isn’t strong enough to justify the fairly lengthy setup.

That changed yesterday, when I went back to Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion. I’d been thinking about the bit all day, trying to find ways to build it up into something stronger. While I was running through it in my head I came up with a new line which makes the setup funnier, and defuses the tension which inevitably builds when you talk about racism.

I was on at the end of the night, around 10:30, so a few people had left but there was still a respectable audience for a Monday night non-bringer gig, but the energy in the room was definitely flagging. Most of my bankers worked pretty well, while some of my more mediocre stuff fell flat, but I didn’t take that to heart under the circumstances.

I closed with the racist baby bit, and right from the start it seemed to go better than it has before, even with a flagging audience – I think partly because I tried to deliver it with more commitment, like I talked about in my last post. I dropped in my new line and it got the biggest laugh of my set, and that meant the punchline, which followed shortly after, did pretty well too because the audience was primed for it. I think the punchline could still be improved, so I’ll keep working on it, but that new line in the middle helps the whole thing work a lot better.

In this lecture on creativity, John Cleese talks about the importance of playing with ideas and I’ve learned that myself – ideas need time to evolve into something better. It’s tempting to ditch bits that aren’t working well, but if you like them enough to keep trying them out and thinking about them, the answers will come eventually.

I wrote just four short words on the back of my hand to help remember the middle bit of my set, but I barely had to glance at them so I should probably just stop being such a little bitch and stop using them altogether.

I’ve got a bunch of gigs lined up for October already and I think I can get away with doing a bit more than one a week, which makes me happy. I feel like I’m making progress with my material and delivery, so I’m itching to get more stage time.

Next week I’ll be at Angel Comedy RAW on Wednesday night, where I’ve been trying to get a spot for ages, so I’m looking forward to that.

Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion, and my first international gig

A cloudy San Francisco from my hotel room window.

Last week I was in San Francisco for a work trip, so I checked out the open mic scene before I went and planned to do some spots while I was there. In the end I only managed to do one spot – a combination of jet-lag, catching a cold on the way out, and a busy work schedule meant I couldn’t get to as many gigs as I’d hoped.

I landed on Sunday afternoon, checked into my hotel and then went to an open mic night called OMJG, run in a gay nightclub called OMG on Sixth Street close to my hotel. The gig started at 5:30pm so I got there on time to make sure I got a spot, but I didn’t need to be so punctual. In contrast to the way London gigs work, acts just drifted in and out of this place throughout the couple of hours it ran, and nobody had problems getting a spot.

I think the locals must treat it as a warm-up before they go to do other spots later in the evening, and there doesn’t seem to be a problem with acts leaving the gig once they’ve done their spot. At first the place was pretty empty so I thought I’d just be performing to a handful of other acts, but eventually a group of four boisterous gay guys came in and sat in front of the stage, so there was at least a small audience.

To be honest I was so spaced from having only just got off a 13 hour flight that I pretty much gabbled nonsense at them for five minutes. I tried to address the fact that I was a Brit by opening with some stuff about Brexit (“I was going to talk to you guys about Brexit, back home we’ve got a problem with mad old racists taking control of the country and fucking everything up for us, but I suppose Americans wouldn’t find that stuff relatable in any way…”).

It didn’t really get much and I probably should have just gone straight in with a punchy opener instead, but I think they gave me a break because I was obviously out of my element, so they were friendly enough. I fumbled through some of my usual material but did a shitty job of it, got a few laughs and a couple of groans at the nasty bits, but it was undeniably a complete car crash. I think the audience were more impressed with my accent than my material.

The other acts were friendly and I stuck around to the end of the gig, although by that point I was pretty much the only person watching the final spot as everybody else drifted off.

I got out of there at about 7pm, and the next gig was at a nearby Irish bar at 9pm. I didn’t want to sit in a bar by myself for a couple of hours so I went back to my hotel room; a fatal move because once I sat in the armchair I was done for and couldn’t summon the energy to go back out. I told myself I’d do more spots later in the week, but I didn’t get a chance to slip away from work, so that was that. I’m glad I did at least one.

Back in London this week I did my first spot at Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion in Dalston. Unusually for an open mic it takes place in the main bar of a pub on Shoreditch High Street, rather than a side room, which means that even though it’s not a bringer night there’s still a half decent chance of a proper audience showing up.

It’s a nice gig, Sam plays MC and keeps the mood bouncy with his own up-beat material, and the random audience element makes it more fun. The night is split into three sections, and while you know which section you’ll be in beforehand, where you are in the running order for that section is the luck of the draw. I prefer this to the nights where you get called up completely at random, because at least you have a rough idea of when you need to mentally prepare to go up.

I went up towards the end of the middle section and, while I didn’t kill, I did get respectable laughs for most of my stuff, even if my closer flopped a bit. I think I need to do a bit of writing, because I’m getting comfortable with my current chunk of material and I’m starting to sense where it already works well and where it needs to be tightened up. My closer used to get a couple of big reliable laughs, but it’s not working as well these days, maybe because I’m not delivering it with the same gusto.

I was listening to an interesting podcast recently on the topic of commitment in comedy, and how being really committed to a bit can help you make controversial material work, so I think I’m going to try that before I do any major re-writing.

I bumped into a few people I recognise at the gig:

  • The majestic Ruby Carr was aflame, and I both hate and love her for being so good at this.
  • Micah Hall, I’ve seen around quite a bit recently and it’s nice to see how well his act is developing.
  • Ginnia Cheng, we’ve been chummy for a while now and she gets better every time I see her.

Also, Vanessa Hua, introduced herself during one of the breaks because it turns out she’s a reader: *waves* – a few people who read the blog have introduced themselves at gigs and they always start by saying “I know this probably sounds a bit weird, but I read your blog…” Honestly, it’s not weird, I like saying hello to you lot.

I’m still not happy about only doing one gig a week, but life’s changing at the moment – so it might be a bit easier to step up to a couple of gigs every week soon.

I was supposed to be at the Cavendish this Wednesday, but I’ve had to cancel that due to a work thing, so my next gig is back at Comedy Explosion next Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

Going on stage drunk at Battersea Power Comedy

Back to Battersea Power Comedy this week. The gig runs in the upstairs room of the Duchess pub, which does great food, so I’d arranged to meet a friend there for dinner beforehand and ended up getting through a couple of pints and most of  a bottle of wine before it was my turn to go up.

I usually don’t drink much at gigs, especially before I’ve done my set – but I wanted to hang out with my friend, and I was feeling pretty confident so I wasn’t too worried about going on stage a bit pissed. It was mostly OK, but at one point I completely blanked in the middle of a bit and it took me a few seconds of flailing before I got back on track. That doesn’t usually happen to me,  so I have to put it down to the booze.

I think being a little pissed on stage might be a good thing for me, but only if I’m delivering material that I’m very confident and practiced with so there’s no danger of me forgetting bits. Just the right amount of booze might help me to look a bit more relaxed.

I’ve had a few flashes of inspiration recently and written some new bits to add into my main set. Because it’s all loosely on the same topic (parenting) it’s easy throw the  new bits into the mix with more polished material for each gig. I tried out a couple of new bits that I came up with this week and they both worked fairly nicely, so I’ll keep them. I’m reasonably confident that I’ve got enough serviceable material for a 10 minute set, although whether I could remember it all is a different matter.

It was a fairly busy night with 15 acts, and I hadn’t seen a lot of them before – there seemed to be a lot more newbies on the bill than at most of my recent gigs. I did bump into the Italian guy I mentioned in my last post, who did a much stronger set this time.  Vasek Pernikar was there, I’ve seen him a few times now and really like his act – he’s got the market cornered for slightly creepy weirdness. Likewise, I’ve seen Dan Mahony a few times recently and he’s shaping up into a solid act.

Finally, there was an American guy called Brooke Hoerr who I thought was pretty good – although that’s probably because we both cover similar themes in our material.

Everybody stuck around in the bar after the show and it was good to talk to some of the other acts. At most of the gigs I do people tend to disappear as soon as the show ends, so I don’t get much opportunity to compare notes with others.

At one point a woman who was in the audience spotted me propping up the bar and creased up as she walked past, then she came over for a chat. Not gonna lie, that gave my ego a boner.

I’m off to San Francisco for a week now and I’ll be trying to do some open mic nights while I’m there. When I get back I’ve got a couple of spots booked at Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion in Dalston – I’ve never done that gig before, but I’ve heard good things so I’m looking forward to it.

 

How do I find a comedy open mic night near me?

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.