By September 1, 2016 Read More →

ComedyView: To mic, or not to mic; is it even a question?

ComedyView: To mic, or not to mic; is it even a question?

By Jimmie Menezes
2014 MAMA-award winning comedian

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A lot of my fellow ‘veteran’ comics like to ask me why, after 6 years as a performer (I know, that’s not long at all), I still like to open mic. Like a lot. Like a lot, lot. Like, even on nights I’m not booked. 2 or 3 nights a week, I’ll drive 2 hours just to get a piece of that stage. It’s worse if I’m booked and the trip pays for itself: if I’m booked in town A, I’ll go to town B 30 miles away, and town C 30 miles from town B, and drive yet another 30 miles out of the way to hit town D on the way home, just to hit 4 stages in one night.
“Why; it’s a waste of time and money?” they say when I invite them out.
Quite the contrary; it’s how I GOT good and it’s how I STAY good. There’s also a reason I am constantly booked ALL OVER (& not just at one or two of my buddy’s rooms). Mic’n is the reason why I win awards and they’re sitting at home waiting for calls from bookers.
Sure, money is a real thing, and I maximize my efforts and hit as many mics as I can in one night; I’m not in a band anymore and I’m not lugging around equipment from gig to gig, so it’s easy to do.
I enjoy the different vibes of each room and even though I’m working on the same new-ish material at each one, each set comes out super different and the personality of the room lets me use different arrows from my quiver; in more colorful, artistic terms, I get to paint using more and more colors from my ever expanding pallet. What artist doesn’t strive for that; and even though it’s just a regular old night of open mic’n, I NEVER take that feeling for granted. Here’s an example of a typical, regular ol’ Monday night of open mic’n in the San Jose Bay Area:

1) Mi Chalateca, San Jose, 8pm – Since it was mostly comics who’ve seen my act as much as I have, I, to quote Insane Clown Posse, “just put the tape on and party”. Good ol’ riff rooms forcing ya to turn old stuff into new stuff and new stuff into old stuff while “just talking” – OK, it’s probably closer to psychobabble, but hey, we are all comics here.
2) Peppertree, Union City, 9:30pm – More like a fun bar showcase than just a “mic”. In rooms like this, I practice stage craft, ie: reading a room, relating with the audience through crowd work and stories, squeezing laughs out of ’em by being goofy and spontaneous, going between riffing & A+ material…ya know, like working…an audience…at a show…for realsies. It’s that whole: MMA-fighters-practice-getting-punched-in-the-face-by-going-someplace-and-getting-punched-in-the-face thing.
3) Woodhams, Santa Clara, 11pm – It’s sink or swim in front of your peers and the regulars at “Woods”, and going up right after the roast battle really tests your mettle, especially when it comes to crowd work and putting out that lil’ bit of extra energy to get over.
Three open mics, 3 rooms, 3 different towns, 3 different audiences, 3 different sets, 3 different experiences. 3 different approaches to making  ’em laugh. Three different ways I got better – at least – than I was yesterday. Triple the laughs, triple the connections with people, triple the growth, & most importantly, triple the fun.

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