"Etiquette for Open Mic Comedy"
The author, David Reuben, has produced/hosted thousands of open mic shows over the last 22 years. I hope these tips help new producers/hosts/comics and refresh the memories of open mic veterans.
A booked show is not an open mic... Many producers call their show an open mic but book acts and have a spot or two for their friends that drop in. An open mic is when anyone can come and sign up to do a spot.
Show up on time and introduce yourself to the producer/host of the show. As much as we think we can read minds, most of us cannot. Being polite goes a long way in getting asked back and potentially booking future shows.
Respect "The Light" The “light" generally means you have 1 minute left of stage time. Going over the light is highly frowned upon and may result in losing any stage time in the future. Most open mic shows give you 5 minutes on stage with the light at 4 minutes.
Don't be intoxicated or on drugs when performing. It makes you look bad and gives the show and venue a bad reputation. You can get drunk or high when you are not doing comedy. You do not go to our day jobs drunk or high, or do you?
DO NOT HECKLE! Ever! Period. Have respect for the other acts. Try to stay and support them as you were supported. If you need to leave, then do it when the Host is on stage and leave without bringing attention to yourself. I do not care how bad the act is on stage Do Not talk or make fun of them. We are all here to learn and it never ends. Even the most experienced comics can still "BOMB"
Use original material! Do not steal material. Stealing material will give you a bad reputation in the industry Comics talk to colleagues, you will have trouble booking shows because you steal. Respect the guidelines that the producer has for material. Not every show is a dirty or dark show.
Be nice to the staff of the venue. Normally, open mics are not at traditional comedy clubs. They are at bars or restaurants that allow the producer to have a show at the establishment. Keep in mind not everyone at the venue come to see the open mic comedy show. Try to support the establishment by buying something, and please pay your tab. Not paying your tab leaves the bar staff responsible for the money lost. As a producer, I have paid comics tabs to keep the show going at a venue.
Do not abuse or break the sound system or mic stand. At many open mic shows I see the comics playing with the equipment and eventually breaking it. All this damage costs money and it usually comes out of the venue or producer's pocket.
Hosts please do not do a lot of time between acts. Doing an abundance of material in between acts not only slows the pace of the show down but it also adds unnecessary time onto the show and wears out the audience.
Respect the audience. Without the audience there is no show. What is the point of having the audience leave or complain to the venue. If you want to talk to yourself, stay home and look in the mirror.
Learn from your experience. Leave your ego at the door and use every gig to learn and get better.
Remember The Job Description. The job description is to make the audience LAUGH!!
I found this very informative video on how not to do an open mic by MattHossComedy
Tip: Do not steal material.
Tip: Do not copy a style.
Tip: Always be prepared.
Tip: Be Polite to the other comic, venue staff, and audience.
Tip: Ask for help.
Performing stand-up comedy is hard enough, let's eliminate the stress of
"Open Mic Comedy"
If you have an idea for a "Comedy Tip" please send them to The Comedy Green Room with the Subject Line "Comedy Tips". Please include your name and city with the "Comedy Tip" so we can give you credit.
Remember to be kind to yourself... Do something that makes you happy every day.
Reach Out To A Mental Health Professional If Necessary!!