Open Mic 101 – Don’t Anger the Audience

CJ's Comedy

The part of my act where I appraise the ripeness of an avocado. Apparently.

For those who don’t know, I’ve recently dipped my toe into the pool of stand-up comedy. With that pool mostly being formed of my own fear-induced urine. You can read more about how I fell into comedy here.

I’ve carried on performing over the past few months, trying to get myself one gig a week to keep building my confidence and material. Whereas in fact what happens is I do a gig, then realise I have a week to do all that work on my material, so it can wait until later. Later rolls around and I’ve done nothing, so I desperately scramble to find some tweets I’ve sent, realise there’s nothing there and practice the same material again and hope I remember it. Rinse, repeat.

This week though I managed a personal best. I managed to offend almost the entire audience. And I hadn’t even been on stage yet.

I was with some friends, and they went to get a drink. As an open mic night they don’t tend to have a ‘real’ audience, instead it’s mostly the other acts. So the absence of my friends, one of only two groups of non-comedians, was noticed. And addressed by the MC.

He made a joke about their sudden absence. I was left needing to say something to address it, so I thought a bit of self-deprecating would be the way to go. The conversation then went like this:

What I meant:

“I’m just flattered they went to the effort to come all this way and see me perform – to be honest after spending the evening with me I’m surprised they didn’t leave sooner.”

What I said:

“I’m surprise they lasted this long.”

What they heard:

“Based on the calibre of acts I’ve seen so far, I’m surprised they lasted this long.”

Queue a pretty big laugh from the audience (except I’m assuming the acts who’d already been on) and a bright red face for me (mostly hidden in the half-darkness). It was probably the biggest laugh I got in the night, with my set probably not being helped by the other acts thinking “oh it’s this arrogant prick, he thinks he’s so funny huh?”

Maybe you’ve read the title of this blog and were expecting more drama. Pitchforks and the like. OK, maybe I oversold it a little – but hey, clickbait.

If you don’t agree with my methods, well you’re a kind of audience. So if you’re angry about it… mission accomplished?