The List *not order

I run a comedy open mic at Sally O’Brien’s in Somerville on Monday nights.

I also run a comedy show at Iron Furnace in Quincy on Tuesday nights at 8pm and it’s free and always fun and you should definitely check it out.  But I’m not here to talk about Tuesday.  I’m here to talk about Mondays.

As an open mic host one of the things I need to do is sort out an order.  Comedians sign themselves up on the list and then I determine who goes on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, all the way to the last spot.  Sometimes (like last night) that last spot is number 42.  It’s an unenviable spot going on last at an open mic.  Many of the comics that already went on have left.  The comics or audience left are likely exhausted and just waiting for the show to end.  The reggae band that plays after the comedy open mic might be sitting there waiting for you to get off stage.  It’s not the most fun spot on the show.  I understand all that, I’ve done the last spot on the show numerous times.  Even still, someone has to be last, how do I decide who will go last.

Well I’m glad you asked.  Now I will provide you with a glimpse behind the curtain.  When determining the order I take a few factors into consideration.  I will try and give more favorable spots to some people based on certain factors.  So in case you are an aspiring comedian wondering how to get on the good side of the host and snag one of those sweet early spots here are some things that could help your chances.

  1.  Be early.  99.9% of the time.  The person that goes on last was late to the open mic.

  2. Even if someone else signs you up, you are not on time if you are not in the room.  Before the show starts I look at the list and I look around the room.  If there is a name on it but that person is not there, I am not going to put them on before a person that is actually in the room.

  3. Eat, Drink and be Merry.  Open mics exist to make money.  The bar is trying to survive.  Buy something.  If you only ever get water at an open mic the host will notice.  If you are at Sally O’Brien’s I recommend getting a burger.  Iron Furnace on a Sunday?  The pizza is great and reasonably priced.  If you want to spend a couple bucks more the short ribs are out of this world.  The “be Merry” part means laugh it up, pay attention to other comics, show some support.

  4. Show up often.  Oh yeah, comics that are at the mic every week and I get to know better get better spots.  Crazy!  I know!

  5. Be funny.  Funnier people get preferential treatment.  But still if a person is super funny but shows up late and doesn’t support the room or other comics they will probably still go on last.

  6. Tip the bartenders/waitstaff.  I’m not saying you need to tip more than the standard amount.  Most of the time the staff won’t even mention if someone stiffs them.  In the years I’ve been hosting this show the bartender has only ever mentioned ONE comic being a pain in the ass AND not tipping a cent and you can bet that I am not giving any consideration to that person when they show up.

  7. Stay until the end even if you already went on stage.  This is a lot to ask I know.  I don’t think badly of comics that leave before the end of the mic.  However I will give preferential treatment to those that stay until the end.  Sometimes I take down their names and offer them early spots the next week, sometimes I just make a mental note.  It’s always appreciated, not just by me but even more so by the last comic that goes on stage.

  8. Post about the show on social media and tag me in the post so that I know you made the post.  Oh you posted to Facebook that you’re heading to do a set at Sally O’Brien’s or Iron Furnace well now that you’ve helped me spread the word about the show I’ll be more likely to help you get on stage at a reasonable hour.  Twitter, instagram, snapchat, any social media is acceptable.  Just as good post about the show AFTER and talk about how much fun it was.  Again helping to spread the word is always appreciated.


Ok.  That’s all I can think of right now.  Any questions please feel free to ask.  Any other open mic hosts want to add anything?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks.  See ya around.

Sundays at Iron Furnace in Quincy:  open mic

Mondays at Sally O’Brien’s in Somerville: open mic

Tuesdays at Iron Furnace in Quincy:  Booked show.  Always the most fun!

Shawn is the owner and creator of

One thought on “The List *not order

  1. Steve Burstein

    Do these open mikes ever lead to anything. The major comedy venues that might get you somewhere used to have open mikes, but it doesn’t look like they do anymore.


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