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Tuesday
Aug122008

Open Mic Photo Post

Good open mics are as important to any city's stand-up scene as good showcases. Terrible open mics not only make you wonder if you're any good as a comic, they make you wonder if you even like comedy anymore. Ever had a night like this? You get there 40 minutes before the show starts to get your name on the list. A Cubs game blares in one corner of the bar, competing for attention. The host fails to make efforts to keep the crowd warmed up, or, worse, is openly hostile to the audience and/or the comics he's hosting. The host bumps you down the list so he can put his latecoming friends up earlier, forcing you to sit for three plus hours waiting your turn to try out new jokes to a largely indifferent audience.

A good open mic makes you feel welcome. If the host and/or producer doesn't know you already, he talks to you and watches your performance to see what you're all about, and if you become a regular, where you fit into the grand scheme of things. A good open mic is a place where you can try new things you're a little unsure of, and walk away with some idea whether those new jokes have potential. And when your five minutes are up, you can wander to the front of the room for another beer, checking in with familiar faces along the way.

Adam Burke and Cameron Esposito are collectively running two new-ish open mics in Chicago right now, and we're pretty sure you can count on them to run consistently good rooms. First, every Thursday at 9:30 there's the Straight-Up Stand-Up open mic at Chinasky's, formerly Whiskey Road (1935 N. Damen). Sign up at 9:00 and expect, as Burke says, "just a down-and-dirty open mic. Comics get 5 minutes and we go for as long as there are comics to put up or until the bar closes."

Then, every other Wednesday at 9:30 (the next one is the 20th) Esposito and Burke are running an open mic at Charleston (2076 N. Hoyne). The format and frequency are in flux right now but we can confirm there are $3.75 well drink specials for the cheapskate drunks among us.

Burke acknowledges he's learned a lot from Your Sunday Best open mic, every Sunday night at Schubas, run by James Fritz and hosted by Prescott Tolk. Or, as he said, "for my money Schuba's is the best open mic in the city, and I'm trying to blatantly copy everything that they do so well."

- Elizabeth McQuern

All photos, of the first Charleston open mic, by Bryan Bowden.

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

Open mic at Charleston's

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