Developing your comedy career requires a commitment to stage time. The Hard Knock Knocks comedy school is first to say rehearsal is vital to a successful comedy career. That’s why we encourage our graduates to produce their own comedy rooms. So what’s the difference between open mic and curated comedy rooms, and just as importantly, how do you get gigs?
Getting a Gig
In short, open mic nights allow performers to walk up on the night. No booking necessary. There’s usually a list floating around the bar or comedy room to which you can add your name. Some rooms will select names from this list randomly, while others will follow a chronologial order. In that case, be sure to arrive early, so you’re not leaving at midnight. Most open mic nights limit each set to five minutes, but some really business rooms may reduce that to three.
Curated comedy nights however require forward planning, schmoozing and ultimately getting in the good books with the comedy event organiser. Curated rooms can be cliquey, meaning you’re unlikely to get on if you just turn up. In fact you might have to be a regular ‘punter’ before the organisers takes a chance on you.
Curated rooms typically feature more experienced comedians, so as a result the quality of the show can attract a general audience of comedy lovers. That being said, there’s still going to be a large percentage of other comedians in the room, many of whom aren’t likely to be listening intently to your awesome comedy set.
Open mic room audiences have an even higher percentage of newbie comedians. This can mean that your gags may not get the reaction (you think) they deserve. Many open mic nights feature the same comedians from previous nights, so it’s likely the audience has already heard the joke. The key isn’t to worry so much about the reaction, but in your delivery.
An open mic night is a raw and unfiltered platform where newbies are often getting up for the first time, and more established comedians are testing out new material. Be warned. The lack of curation means that the quality can very, and content can be offensive. New comedians often confuse ‘shock’ for funny.
With curated rooms there’s more oversight, as the organiser is interested in producing an appealing show that brings audiences back. As a result, the line up of comedians may be briefed on what can and can’t be said. Or not. But be aware that if the audience isn’t laughing you’re unlikely to get a second chance at performing at that room.