When you think of stand-up comedy, a few archetypical images come to mind. A spotlight highlighting the comic from the audience (years ago, literally a light created from heating up lime, hence a lime-light), a microphone and a sea of darkness that makes up the cavernous groupthink that is the audience. Its perfection is the comedy club. Locally, this can be seen at either Cozzy’s Comedy Club, or The Virginia Beach Funny Bone. The comedy club is the comedy equivalent of a lab setting. Literally all distractions are minimized. All focus is centered toward the stage. All a comedian need do is not mess up the jokes he’s crafted. Because chances are, if you’re on stage at a major room like the Funny Bone or Cozzy’s, you’ve put a huge amount of work into finding out which of your silly thoughts will make an audience erupt with laughter and which ones will just make people uncomfortable.
All of this work takes place at open mics/workshop nights. These are shows that, the crowd is not going to be exactly the same as an “A-room” crowd. The audience usually doesn’t pay, very often the venue isn’t necessarily a business that has comedy other nights of the week. If a comedy club is the perfect laboratory of comedy, workshop nights are the field study. The result is that the comics work even harder. While a comic can pick through his quiver of arrows to draw from when he’s doing a showcase show, he must experiment at an open mic. They must engage the crowd even more. The fruits of this labor are much like the work of Babe Ruth… you might have a lot of strike-outs. But in the end this is how you become a home-run king… of comedy.
The root of all comedy is creating tension and relieving it. Why did the chicken cross the road… (you’re dying to know)… to get to the other side (relief!). At an open mic there is an omnipresent subconscious tension, so when a joke is funny (which really is more often than not), you will never laugh as hard in your life. Additionally, when a joke works, there is nothing like the first time it’s ever told. If you have ever enjoyed comedy, this is a sneak peak into the creative process that you might not have ever known about. Louis CK, probably the best comic working right now, begins every one hour special he records with a few open mic appearances. From there these jokes develop into theatre shows, and later into one new hour of material. In short, if a comic ever wants to make anything of him or her self, they need the perfection that only workshop nights can create.
With that in mind, I’d like to invite everyone to come out to the workshop night at Margarita Grill this Wednesday Night. Margarita Grill is located at the intersection of Virginia Beach Boulevard and Great Neck Road, just around the corner from Pollard’s Chicken. For the GPS-ers and GoogleMaps people, it’s located at 2340 Virginia Beach blvd.
The show starts at 9pm, runs Wednesdays and is absolutely free. I’ll be hosting. See you then!