My First Time Doing a Stand-Up Comedy Open Mic in a Dead Room

I talk into a mic

I told jokes, but the laughter was nowhere to be found.

I’ve bombed before. I think it’s safe to say every comedian has at some point in their career; there’s no shame in it–especially at an open mic where comics are testing out new material all the time. Last Thursday night, however, was the first time that I knew I was going to bomb and there was nothing I could do about it. The room was dead. Nobody was getting laughs.

Being on stage, I could feel the energy being sucked right out of me. Part of the reason was the guy who went up before me, but that’s the subject for my next post. I try to be enthusiastic when I’m on stage, but I’d start a bit with a feeling of “all right!” only to have it end with a feeling of “ugh…”

Sometimes comics just aren’t funny, and that’s the cause of a dead room; however, when that’s the case, the audience is sitting there waiting to laugh. Someone funny will come up and you’d never know that was the same audience that had previously been sitting in silence. That was not the case. The few people in the audience refused to even participate in crowd work and at one point were hostile toward it.

I learned a few things:

  1. I finally see why it’s important for comics to do open mics. I knew what I should do in that instance (just do my material or find something to work on), but I didn’t know how difficult it was going to be to do that.
  2. The energy shared between the comic and the audience is very strong, and apparently that energy can work both ways.
  3. Always be prepared for anything. I had heard this advice before, but I  took it as meaning when it came to doing shows (i.e., paid gigs and the like). Nope. It applies to every time a comic gets on stage.

When I went up to do my set, I was not prepared for a dead room; I had no idea what to expect. I had planned to test out a callback, but there was no way I was going to be able to tell if it was funny or not to an audience. I had no plan B. I thought using my first 30 seconds of stage time to learn how to adjust the mic height was a good idea. Oh boy…

Me Adjusting Mic Height

I used stage time to learn how to adjust the mic height. Surely there was something better to be done here.

I let the negative energy of the room suck out all my energy. I didn’t know that could happen that easily. Sadly, I had friends there who were taping me and another comic friend of mine. I did old material that got laughs the first time I did it, but this time I got nothing. Watching the video, even I didn’t laugh as much as I usually do to my jokes due to the lack of energy. Yes, call me corny, but I like to laugh at my own jokes.

Overall I’m not that disappointed in myself. I’m still relatively new, and I see this as a learning experience. It will only be a problem if I keep letting it happen. Next time I go up, I will have something to work on–probably just tightening delivery. I will also work on fighting the lack of energy. As I found out, sometimes there are rooms that can’t be saved, but there’s no reason why I should let negative energy keep getting the best of me.

That’s all for this post, but I want to give a shout out to Farmer Pig Productions for taping my set, which resulted in the pictures on this post. Thank you so much!  Taping during THAT show was truly an act of self-sacrifice if I’ve ever seen it.




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