Open Mic Night: Talent Scouts

Every Wednesday I will write a short post about open mics. It could be a post about etiquette or a story from an open mic I’ve hosted or even just a writing prompt for you to try out, maybe even all three sometimes.

This week’s story is about an open mic I once hosted in Somerville Massachusetts. Before moving to Bristol Tennessee, I hosted an open mic for almost a decade at Sally O’Briens, it had been handed down to me by Josh Gondelman, and handed down to him from Myq Kaplan who had taken it over after co-hosting with Dan Hirshon.

Anyone that has been doing comedy for more than a few weeks can tell you that you are not going to get noticed right away. However, we’ve all been so conditioned by movies and TV to think that all you have to do is go on-stage and kill it and success will find you. So when someone says something like the person in this story it never really surprises me.

This was my very last night hosting the open mic and because of this the mic was even busier than usual. Each week we started the show at 7:30 and we had a hard out at 10pm. By keeping the sets to a maximum of 3 minutes I was usually able to get 40 – 50 people on the show each week. This week the list was about 50 comics deep which meant some people might not get on-stage at all. Most of the people that signed up on the later part of the list understood that and made sure to tell me that they were not worried about getting on-stage, but just wanted to watch the show and maybe do some time if possible. These were all regulars at the mic.

BUT there was a man that walked in about 7:40, when the show had already started and started talking to me during the first comics set. This was a man I had never seen before. He was wearing sandals, cargo shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and an Australian safari hat. It’s as if he was trying to do everything wrong. Aussie hat guy signs up on the list and asks me what time he will go on-stage. I told him in a hushed voice that he may not get on-stage at all because the list if very long and we have a hard out at 10pm but if he does go on it will be near the end of the show. He seems annoyed and walks away.

10 minutes later this man comes back and asks when he will be going on-stage. I tell him the same thing as the first time he asked. He is definitely peeved at this point and walks away.

10 minutes later this man comes back and again asks the same question, he gets the same response. Then he asks “are there any talent scouts in the crowd tonight?”. I heard every word he said, but I had to ask him to repeat himself because those words in that order at a small bar on a Monday night in Somerville just didn’t compute in my head. He repeated his question “ARE THERE ANY TALENT SCOUTS IN THE CROWD TONIGHT?”. I laughed and said “NO”, he said “are you sure?” I said “I am 100% certain there are no talent scouts in the crowd tonight.” and then he said something I’ll never forget, he said “Well this feels like an incredible waste of my time.”.

The hubris of that statement is something you can only get from someone brand new to comedy, and a small part of me wished that I told him that there were bookers from Colbert, Fallon, and Conan in the crowd just to watch him search for them after the show.

Anyway, I’ll be hosting the open mic at Blue Ridge Comedy Club tonight Wednesday August 18. Drop by and impress some talent scouts, or just try out some new material.

620 State Street, Bristol TN
First Floor, End of the Hall

Shawn is the owner and creator of

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