How to Pick Your First Open Mic

If you're writing comedy, chances are you've fantasized about your first performance. What's it gonna be like? Will it be packed? Will people laugh? How do I pick the BEST open mic? Which one is the friendliest? Which has the best audience?

While these are important questions, Ether Comedy suggests getting out of your head and getting out there and doing it, no matter if it's at a coffee shop, a bar, or a comedy club.

If you feel good about the material you've written, and are ready to hit the stage and try it out, here are tips on picking your first open mic.

Question: Where do I find open mics?

Answer: Most cities with an active comedy scene have open mics listed in one place. For example, in Austin, you can find shows and mics at Comedy Wham. Most cities will have a site similar to this. If you can't find one with a google search try this site, which has resources listed for multiple cities. Searching for open mics in your city on Facebook and Reddit may also be helpful.

Question: How do I prepare?

Answer: Stand-up comedy is scary, but you can pick an open mic that will make you feel more at home. The best way to find which one is right for you is to sit in a few and see what the open-mic. It helps a lot to know what you're walking into. Arrive early enough to see who's running the show and how people are signing up so if you do decide to do a set, you'll have a few less things to worry about. Also note of how long the sets are (typically 3 minutes - 5 minutes, depending on how many people sign up and how big the comedy scene where you live is) and how the comics are being lit.

Question: Wait, what does "being lit" mean?

Answer: GREAT QUESTION. Hosts who run shows and mics like to have a plan and know the length of their show. They usually stand at the back of the room and shine a flashlight or phone light to let a comic know when they have a minute left. Acknowledge this by nodding your head or giving a subtle signal to the host that you've seen the light. Know your material well enough so you have idea of what it feels like to have about a minute left. Better to leave the stage short than go over your time.

Question: What if there are a ton of options to choose from?

Answer: This sounds like a fun problem to have. It means you live in a place where you'll likely be able to get a lot of stage time. When it comes down to it, picking one mic is better than debating about which one is the right one. When all else fails, pick the one that's closest to you. The less time you spend commuting, the more time you have to work on that stand-up comedy career!