I was in Chicago doing shows all last week. Fun times. I was working Zanies, a very classy, hip yet real club, the name notwithstanding. So what did I do after a very fun and fulfilling show at Zanies? That’s right I went to an open mic.
A young Chicago comic invited me and I said what the hay. It was pretty brutal, like looking at fashions from the 80’s…Did I really dress like that? As I watched the comics I kept thinking…was I that bad? But I probably was. Watching open mics are like listening to a kid learn how to play Tuba. It’s got to be real bad before it can get good. Sure some kids make a pleasant sound sooner than you would expect but only one in a million is a virtuoso out the gate.
I actually went up as my name was mysteriously put on the list. I had an okay set but I think my professionalism was a bit of a betrayal. Who’s this guy following some sort of convention?! Many open mic comics are done in by trying to make comics in the back of the room laugh. Comics are a cynical jaded bunch and what makes them laugh is often not palpable to common folks. Imagine how spicy food has to be to make a Thai chef sweat. Probably the type of heat that would make a civilian call in sick.
I also couldn’t help but wonder who would still be doing comedy 3 years from now and who would be an armchair comic telling their kids how they did comedy a few times one summer back in 09. I know from experience that some of the strongest ones out the gate will lose the fire or be led down a different path. Some of the awful ones might miraculously put it all together and I may be asking if I can open for them one day. You never know but there’s something magical about that phase of comedy or anything I imagine. It’s not about money yet and at the same time potential and hope creates a promise or at least possibility that they all will make it. No one’s been plucked out of the bunch yet so they all have claim to the prize to the crown of best comic ever. Of course time will say different but good bad or worse they’re all stars right now.