Writing for an Open Mic: Five Minutes is not That Much Time


The clock is ticking faster than you think. Don’t let the amount of time you need to fill on stage prevent you from performing.

One of the biggest barriers I used to have writing for an open mic was getting enough material where I’d feel comfortable performing. I’d think to myself, I have five minutes!? How will I ever fill that? The truth is, five minutes is not that much time.

If you have a laugh every ten seconds (i.e., one joke every ten seconds), that equals six jokes in a minute and 30 jokes in the whole five-minute set.

You really don’t need that much material for a five-minutes open mic. Try telling a funny story to a timer. Do this in private, before you go on stage, just to see how long such a story takes to tell. You’ll be surprised how much time it takes up.

Last week, I had a number of bits I wanted to do. I thought I’d make it through all of them, but I got the light and I hadn’t even started my last bit. I didn’t get the light early either. I checked the recording time, and, sure enough, it was five minutes long.

Getting on stage and getting comfortable performing is so important because it’s much different than telling jokes to your friends, your notebook, your voice recorder, yourself, or anything else. Because of this, don’t let that five minute timer get to you. And, if you do come up short, there’s nothing wrong with leaving the stage early. It’s better than not going up at all.


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