It's the entry point to standup, and because of that, most open mics are rough. But these often-awkward showcases are the most natural place to start if you want to make people laugh. We asked our Funniest Five for advice on how amateur performers should prepare as well as tips for people who didn't realize they were about to become an audience and are suddenly at the mercy of newbs with microphones.
So you think you're funny…
"If you're at an open mic and you find out quickly that, oh this is bad, but you do see a couple comics that you think are really funny, find out where they go because there's a good chance that they're going to some good open mics. That sounded like 'follow people around,' but not really." —Shain Brenden
"Introduce yourself to the host. Don't be a dick to the host. You can't imagine how many people feel entitled to be like, 'Well, I need to go up early.' Bro, you don't dictate when you go up." —Jake Silberman
"There isn't any such thing as a bad open mic. You need to just be onstage and get comfortable for at least the first year. So just do as much as you can in any environment that'll let you. Obviously, the Helium open mic is the best in the city—far and away, there's not even a close second—because the audience is there to see comedy, which is almost never the case at an open mic. But that'll give you a false sense of confidence. You need to go to another place where there's one person who is drunk and sad at the bar and see if you can get them to laugh. You need to be able to do all of those things." —Dan Weber
"Watch other comics to see what they're doing, what it looks like to do comedy." —Jake Silberman
So you find yourself at an open mic…
"You know what, if you hate what the comedians are doing, go smoke a cigarette, go into the bathroom, just wait. No open mic has more than five minutes at a time, so you're only going to have to tolerate an asshole for five minutes at most." —Dan Weber
"If you're at your favorite bar and all of a sudden you hear someone announce, 'Hey, guys, there's an open mic starting in five minutes," don't be an asshole and just keep talking. I know we just turned your favorite bar into a nightmare—that's a Jake Silberman joke—but if you're not into it, leave." —Shain Brenden
"Come with an open mind. Laugh if you think it's funny, but don't laugh if you don't think it's funny. It's sad to hear people forcing laughter, or we've gotten into this thing they call 'clapter' now where you don't think it's funny but you agree with the point. I think that's tiresome." —Jake Silberman
"A good audience member is there to have fun and understands the show is an experience for everyone and not just for the one drunk dude who thinks his yelling is helping the show." —Corina Lucas
"An open mic is not a show. A lot of the comics are up there not doing their best material. They're up there trying to figure shit out so they have good stuff for a show. It's probably going to be bad or it's probably going to be weird. And it might not make sense to you because it's not what you see on Netflix." —Shain Brenden
"Don't heckle, don't be on your phone, don't be talking. Literally, all you need to do is sit in the dark and be quiet." —Jake Silberman
Jake Silberman's Top Five Open Mics
1510 SE 9th Ave. // 8 pm Tuesday.
3023 SE Milwaukie Ave. // 10:30 pm Tuesday.
2432 SE 11th Ave. // Midnight Friday.
4. The Real Comedy Spot Open Mic at EastSide Bar and Grill
2530 NE 82nd Ave. // 9 pm Tuesday.
426 SW Washington St. // 3 pm Sunday.