Stand-up comedy isn’t an easy thing to get into. I mean, not if someone wants to make anything out of it. If someone wants to be a stand-up comedian, they spend years practicing and getting on stage as much as possible. I typically go to open mics 1-3 times a week and I still don’t think I do it often enough.
Last night, I was at the open mic in the Middle East Corner. It runs every Tuesday at 10pm and is hosted by Rob Crean and John Paul Rivera. I’ve recently started coming back to it after a several month hiatus (I think the Tuesdays at 10pm thing was getting to me). Anyways, every open mic has its own reasons for being kind of brutal in one way or another and I mean that in the most endearing way I can. The Middle East open mic’s twist is that there is some 18+ techno-dance-rave-thingy that happens at the same time, in the same building (Middle East Downstairs). This leads to a lot of loud and drunk people running all around.
All open mics have this second quality to them: everyone performing is either new to stand-up or is working on new material. This leads to a lot of awkwardness, unfunniness, unintentional funniness, and silence. Oh, and real funniness too, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about a guy who has no idea how hard writing material and getting on stage at an open mic is, especially when people are just starting out.
Before the open mic started, I heard this guy talking to his friends about the show. (The perfect tell that someone is new to stand-up is that they invite a bunch of friends to an open mic. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just says that the person is probably new to the game. Personally, I would never subject a friend to coming to an open mic with me unless they asked if they could come along.) He had obviously been there before to see the show and must not have enjoyed it because he was not being very flattering of the comedians. He put on that faux retarded voice that idiots use when they’re trying to make other people sound stupid and started saying things to mock the comedians like, “I asked for no cheese on my hamburger and the waitress brought it over and there was cheese on it.” I wish he had written the punchline to that joke, I bet it would have been a doozy. It was not until I overheard this conversation, and he signed up, that I realized he had intended to perform that night. Now he had me interested. I was thinking, this guy better be great or he’s going to look like a real chump to his friends. It wasn’t until about halfway through his set, though, that I realized I needed to write about this guy.
The guy’s angle was that he was crass. He had jokes about sex, condoms, mentally challenged people, physically handicapped people, and of course gay people. Seriously, he made fun of gay people at a bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’m not sure that was the strangest thing about his set either. The strangest thing is that he sprinkled in completely innocent, pun-based jokes. One about going to the aquarium and ordering a peanut butter and jellyfish sandwich. The other I wrote down was about being denied a springroll at a restaurant because it was before March 21st (spring equinox). All of this went to little applause from the crowd and mostly received groans. There was one guy, presumably his friend, who was trying his best to laugh loudly and proudly but it just came out fake and sarcastic.
It may seem like I’m picking on this guy, and I am a little, but I hold no contempt for him. I just hope he, and the rest of the world, realizes that it isn’t easy to get on stage and get laughs, especially when it’s for the first time. Give people a break when they are trying their hardest at something.