In the past, I’ve hosted comedy open mic nights and found myself getting incredibly frustrated about similar habits a lot of shitty new comics had. When a venue contacted me a few years ago to run their comedy open mic night, I put together a list of rules for my show that I actually codified into paper and made every comic read before letting them on my show. Some of them ignored these rules and were not welcomed back, though most comics took these rules to heart if they needed to be told so at all. Below are the rules that I feel every comic should follow when attending a comedy workshop.
-Do not disrespect the house. They have been nice to us to let us perform here, recognize that, don’t say anything dumb that will make the venue reconsider giving people a mic and PA system to talk into.
-Don’t harass people in the audience. Consider the fine line that does exist between crowd work and being an asshole with a microphone in your hand. They’re there to laugh, not to be abused. Also, as this show is a work in progress. As such, a lot of people in the crowd might not even know a comedy show was planned. Unless they’re really asking for attention, leave them alone.
-When you are given the light, your time has come to a close. Go ahead and rap that shit up, B. While you don’t have to stop talking and flee the spotlight, don’t go on to a new subject. Finish your thought and dismount.
-You can curse; however, do not use foul language for the mere sake of using foul language. Have a point to it. Saying “motherfucker” and “god damn” between every word and at the end of every sentence expedites the aforementioned illumination (See above statement).
-Don’t hack. If you want to say some other comedian’s jokes, save that for when you’re sitting around the water cooler at work. This will also cause you to go into the light. The point of going to an open mic is to make you a better comic. You’ll never be better telling someone else’s jokes.
-Before and after you go on, show the performer on stage the respect and attention you would want while on stage. Keep your personal conversations to a minimum, and if you are going to talk, do it in a way that’s not distracting to the show. You want everyone’s attention while you’re on stage. Don’t fuck it up for the next guy.
-This is a show. While open mics are a great opportunity to hone new material, bear in mind people have to watch it. Be funny. Don’t try to shock people or do jokes that only you would ever find funny. A groan is not as good as a laugh, and a “what the hell was that?” is pointless.