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Stand-up comedy at its finest

Humor Co-Editor Patrick Sullivan has performed stand-up for many comedy shows and knows a few truths about how open mics tend to go.
Humor Co-Editor Patrick Sullivan has performed stand-up for many comedy shows and knows a few truths about how open mics tend to go.

You walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What are you doing here? You look 16.”

No, this isn’t the start of a joke. It’s the start of every average stand-up comedy open mic. For all those interested in trying stand-up comedy, I recommend you don’t read this piece. For everyone else who thinks people that do stand-up comedy are weirdos, you might enjoy reading this suffering.

I walk up to the bar and hand him my fake. Every comedian has a fake ID. Some say a 19-year-old is really 21. Some say a 47-year-old is really 35. Some say a 250-pound guy is not a buck over 175. 

When I tell the bartender that I am here for the open mic, he points me to a guy slumped over a beer at the end of the bar.

I shake him from his slumber. He is not pleased and pulls out the grossest notebook I have ever seen and writes my name down before downing the last of his beer and going outside to do enough drugs to kill an elephant. 

And then I wait. 

And then I wait some more. 

The mic was scheduled to start at 9 p.m. Like the idiot newbie I am, I showed up at 8:15 p.m. to get a seat. It is now 9:45 p.m., and I’m about to head for the door. But wait, the gremlin that I awoke to sign up gets on stage and alerts the five unsuspecting individuals in the back that the show will be starting in 15 minutes. 


As the bartender dims the lights and silences the TVs, the five unsuspecting individuals are pissed. It’s one thing to go on stage for a crowd that doesn’t pay attention to you, but it’s a completely different thing to go on stage for a crowd that is loathing you for silencing the women’s Division 3 curling championship on ESPN 8. 

The gremlin gets on stage and spends the first 15 minutes talking about his “no-no area.”

No matter where I go, the host will always be talking about that. Has it ever worked, you, the reader, might wonder? No. But, alas, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try again. 

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And remember, we silenced women’s Division 3 curling for this. 

Alas, a line of comedians appear out of nowhere. Even though I showed up first and signed up first, they can all buy beer. Our little gremlin host takes a bribe, and now I’m at the bottom of the list.

I get to sit there, sober and alone. I couldn’t drag any of my friends to another open mic (basically a repeat of what is happening now). I watch comedian after comedian get up on stage, eyes full of hope and laughter, only to bomb one joke after another. 

Now, it’s my turn. 

The host calls me by the wrong name and, of course, the $20 mic from Walmart stops working just as I start my jokes. I end up yelling my set, which isn't hard because there’s five people in the audience, and the curling was silenced. 

I get one chuckle from a drunken stupor in the back. That’s enough for me, and I run off the stage, drive back home and roll into the driveway at 1 a.m. But, because I’m addicted to the one sound of laughter I squeezed out of that place, I will be back at the same time next week. 

Try comedy, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. You won’t get addicted to trying to get drunk laughs from strangers to keep you going for the week, they said. 

You should try it!