NYC open mics

Don’t know why I thought New York City open mics would be somehow different (read: better) than open mics in every other city, but they are, if anything, worse (read: soul-suckingly worse).

I returned to the Big Apple to take part in a reunion of sorts of the "Funniest Reporters on the Planet" (a pseudo-contest held in January at the Laugh Factory in Times Square). That time, I took a bus down, performed, hung around afterward, then the bus back. This time, I figured I should at least try to catch some more comedy, if not perform more than once. That’s what New York comedy is all about, right?

But first, some touristy sidetracks.

I met up with a friend of mine from high school (Mary) who I hadn’t seen in forever, if you define forever as about 11 years. That was fun.

Then it was off to the races. I called Jim Gaffigan for advice. He was busy, on his way to an audition, so I did the next best thing: I walked over to the late-afternoon madness outside The Late Show with David Letterman. The studio audience had just begun to line up (or queue, as my British Commonwealth friend likes to say) outside, and Letterman’s studio hands were filming a sketch on the sidewalk. I walked into the Hello Deli, and yes, Rupert Gee was behind the counter. He was friendly. I bought an energy drink ($2.50) and hung around outside for a few minutes, debating whether to stick around and get a second of TV face time or go look for some stage time. I chose the latter. It’d turn out to be the wrong decision.

The gigglechick info was slightly correct. Stand Up NY had an open mic, but apparently not as early as reported online, because the guy there told me he couldn’t give me any time before 9 — he suggested I go down to Comedy Village (the old Boston Comedy Club?) and wrote a note to tell that guy to put me on, but when I got down there, the door was locked, and the bartender at the joint downstairs said the Comedy Village didn’t open until 7. That didn’t help me, since my show at the Laugh Factory was at 7:30. Little did I know that only 14 customers would show up at the Laugh Factory — all of whom were friends with one of the other "reporters" on our show. Did everyone stay home to watch American Idol? I did find one early (before 7 p.m.) open mic at a place called HA! on West 46th, but that place was, um, horrible. Eight wannabe open mikers making each other not laugh. No customers. I passed. The Laugh Factory show itself was OK, considering the turnout. At the end of the show, Dan Allen stopped by (he’s also friends with Catie Lazarus, the stand-up who freelances for the Forward). He took me down to Rififi. We got there too late for the show, just in time for the post-show mingling in the bar, where I met a couple of former Boston comics (Sean Crespo, Rob from the Rob and Mark Show) and other New York comic/creative types. Good times. Then swung up to The PIT (People’s Improv Theater) where they had their first-ever open mic at 11 p.m. Tuesday, called "1 UP". No, don’t know what the title means. The host, PIT improviser Chris Grace, said he wasn’t publicizing it just yet because he wants to let it grow first (talk about great and secret). Anyhow. Chris did some stand-up. A guy did a bizarre Will Rogers act wearing a cowboy hat and clothes, telling political jokes while performing rope tricks. Another guy read a performance essay piece that was more theatrical than humorous. Then I did about 8-10 minutes of my stuff, which went over fairly well — methinks because the "alternative" venue and vibe allowed me to be looser than working in a club environment. That’s the short story.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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