Do you think you've got hot bits and struck comedy gold? The only way to know for sure is to test them in the blue-hot flames of a comedy open mic. Follow these 6 steps and be ready for your first open mic. Depending on your prior experience with public speaking, you might be ready to hit the stage in less than a week!
Write down all the funny things. Be sure to organize them, so it's easy to locate and curate.
Watch all the stand-up. This will help you to become familiar with the different styles and topic ranges.
Actually attend an open mic. If you can, hang out after the show and network. Also, support the establishment and buy a drink. Tip the staff!
Know the rules of the club/bar, then create a set that is both true to you and meets the requirements. Most open mics require advance sign up. Some as early as one week. The time limit may be anywhere from 3-4 minutes per performer.
Once you have a set, practice, practice, practice!!! I typed my jokes long-form. At one point, I got trapped trying to trim the setup. Workshop purgatory was turning into workshop hell.
Switched it up by listening to audio recordings. Then briefly discussed the material with a trusted friend. I did one more long-form edit. Finally - about 24 hours before the mic - I repeated my set until I had it down.
SHOW UP AT THE OPEN MIC AND PERFORM!!!!
Chicago comedian, Elaine Phillips (@Satiristfaction) shared this calendar of comedy open mics.
Instructions for importing calendar using Google Calendar app.
Diary entry April 8, 2015
This is a resource for comedians in the Chicago and surrounding suburbs. It is based on all active open mic listings on the Comedy of Chicago website as well as from various Chicago Comedy Facebook groups. See Comedy of Chicago for info about local mics. Hosts often post updates about mics on Facebook (e.g. cancellations or time changes). Always consult their official pages for the most accurate info. If information on this calendar needs to be changed/updated, please message Elaine Phillips via Facebook.
I wanna know about your first open mic experience. Comment below!
Today I performed my first 3-minute set at the Laugh Factory Chicago's open mic night. Our host Paul Farahvar was super funny and accommodating.
Laugh Factory Chicago for being awesome especially Curtis and Paul.
Remigio and Alice for coming out and supporting me.
D. Robin for always cracking the whip and encouraging me to write my comedic gold down.
As an aspiring screenwriter, I need a job that didn’t impede my writing goals. In 2015, I quit my call center job and transition back to full-time writing. In preparation for the upcoming writing contest and fellowship submission season, I found myself with little time to write and edit my freelance assignments as well as my web series. Burning the candle at both ends made me slower and sloppy. Missing the deadlines was not an option. Submitting poorly-written work was a waste of money. I had a decision to make: should I hire a freelance copyeditor or should I buy grammar software?
Hiring a Professional Copyeditor
I needed an editor to correct my script and application materials. Specifically for the scripts, I needed an editor to correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and -- if possible -- provide writing feedback. Because many of my scripts are intended for Caribbean audiences, my ideal editor should be able to distinguish mistakes and colloquial English.
Eventually, I hired a respected playwright to edit my 8-page web series pilot. I explained some mistakes were intentional (e.g. Caribbean English). Their rate and delivery time fit my schedule. Because we didn’t have a chance to fully discuss the project, I found a few mistakes. I needed an editor who already understood the story and my artistic voice. There was no time to read and wait for another round of edits; I needed real-time writing help.
I haven't completely given up on humans. This month I joined a screenwriting group. Hopefully, I get the feedback and tips I'm looking for.
Buying Grammar Software
After doing research and discussing with friends, my top three writing enhancing software picks were Ginger, WhiteSmoke, and Grammarly. I compared features, pricing, and sample text. Last April I purchased a one-year Grammarly subscription.
My favorite Grammarly features
April 28 marks my one-year anniversary with Grammarly. I’m definitely renewing my subscription! It's also good to know that I can always use their free grammar checker.
Grammarly vs. Human
Still wondering if to hire a human copyeditor (psst, pick me!) or if to buy Grammarly?
Invest in grammar software if your main goal is to improve your English and appear professional in written communication. Grammarly points out mistakes as well as explains grammar rules.
Hire a professional proofreader if you want to outsource your writing projects and receive feedback. A professional editor also helps with large documents and team collaborations. For example, if you’re a media publisher with several writers. Only a human can review all the documents to ensure the branding and writing style is consistent.
Oh yeah, the script I was working on didn't win any awards, but I became a Sundance/YouTube New Voices semi-finalist! I'd like to think Grammarly helped give me the edge I needed.What's been your experience with proofreaders and grammar software?
Related: 9 Creative Ways to Finance Your Art
“Nine times out of ten – especially when I meet a guy – it’s my looks that get me in the door. I’ve learned is to use my looks to get me in the door, but I’ll use my intelligence to let me stay.” – Lana J (@Official_LanaJ)
Whether you’re an actor in character or a writer hidden behind an avatar, the way you present yourself influences your career. Especially when you are transitioning from one stage to the next. This month, I asked six women: What do you hope to convey about your artistic self through fashion? What feedback have you received about your dress as relates to your art?
Note: while dress is important, talent and work ethic will always trump branding, marketing, or anything else. Shout out to The Representation Project and its #AskHerMore campaign which inspires people to call out sexist reporting and suggest ways to re-focus on women’s achievements.
“It’s very important to me that I feel comfortable and that means feeling like myself. No matter what. In the classroom, there is definitely more of an awareness of my body, so I do consider whether my outfits are too “sexy” or revealing. I like to feel more exposed when I perform. I am very comfortable in my body so I like to show skin. It’s part Riot Grrrl ethic, part self-objectification. I love hotpants and booty shorts. With or without tights. And, boots. Always, boots.” – Alicia Swiz (@popgoesalicia) Professor, Performer, and Professional Feminist
“When I do a show, I put my face on. I wear my nice jeans and a top that isn’t covered in stains on my chest. I want to look great, able to high kick and put my best forward. That’s the outfit that does it for me. Sometimes I wear a dress. I know, crazy! A hoodie hides me and is defiantly my woobie. Watch ‘Mr. Mom’. It’s so great! When you’re doing comedy, don’t hide. Put YOU out there. If a woobie is what you need in your FIRST days of comedy, go for it. No judgments.” – Amy Sumpter (@Amy_Sumpter) Stand-Up, Comedic Actress, and Storyteller
“I’ve always wanted to have a closet full of the same outfit. Just like cartoon characters. I’m most comfortable in jeans, a sweater, and a pair of Converse. The idea of standing out in a crowd feels more stressful than exciting. The one garment that never fails to draw attention: my hijab. As a Muslim American woman, my headscarf is usually the first thing people notice. In our current political climate, I often feel like I’m representing a community of 1.6 billion people rather than just myself.
I’m still learning to face audiences with confidence. One of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received regarding my appearance was from an audience member. She confessed to thinking my hijab would be distracting, but by the end of my performance she had forgotten it was even there! Due to my lack of fashion sense, there’s not much of a difference between performer and regular me.” – Laura Bowers, Improv/Sketch Comedy Artist
“Learning to truly love living life at your own pace is very important in today. With everything moving so fast and changing constantly, it’s important for me to find that balance between the internal self, the self that interacts with others, and the desiring self which seeks fulfillment within my chosen career paths. I’ve always wanted to find something that makes me different. Actually, what makes us all different is already a part of who we are. All the time spent on searching is just a part of the process of creating our own special piece that fits perfectly into the puzzle of this world.
Externally we are a walking billboard displaying our brand. People are drawn to how we carry ourselves; the way we stand, our clothing, our hair color, haircut, etc. Expressing your creative brand in this way can and will add stylistic individuality if you truly embrace the things that fancy you and not the external factors impressed upon you.” Kellye Howard (@kellyehoward) Comedian/Performer/Producer
“I think I offer a unique perspective both in how I dress as well as my comedy. My style of dress reflects my art in that both are well thought out while also trying to maintain a playful essence. Although none of my jokes are second hand, I often shop at thrift stores. In both cases, I like to take chances with things that are out of the ordinary. I design and make some of my clothes and jewelry. Some are sold on my website.
I've only gotten good feedback on the way I dress. At least to my face! This is how people who know me expect me to dress for a show. Those who don't, often comment positively while relating my style to my persona.” – Kat Herskovic (@KatHerskovic) Comedian/Designer
“I’ve gotten very positive feedback about my dress. I want to look like I am dressing up for the part. I want to stand out for being dressed up. The outfit I’m wearing today is intentional because it’s bold. I love the colors and shapes. For my show, Simmer Brown, I also dress in [traditional] Indian clothes. This ensures people realize that I am Indian. It’s my heritage and I’m proud of it. I want people to see that a woman who is dressed in a traditional, non-western clothes can also be a comedian. I want people to make that association. What they should realize is that this person is can express themselves – with covered hair or whatever – and still be relatable. It’s not a shield or a wall they have to overcome.
A lot of comics – I don’t know if they don’t want to stand out or if they are portraying a different brand, but their look tends to be a little more casual. I like to be dressed up. I wear dresses and skirts. It may sound strange but I dress like you would in a business meeting. Because I mean business. You also have to be comfortable. This outfit makes me feel very confident. That’s a big thing. If you feel confident on stage, that will come through. My take away is: wear what you feel confident. In the past, wearing Indian clothes embarrassed me. Now [wear Indian clothes] as a way to reclaim my heritage and making it powerful. I dress up to feel feminine, but strong. It sounds like I’m a tampon.” – Sameena Mustafa (@SameenaMustafa) Comedian/Producer
Radio host and TV personality Lana J a great thought on how dressing can influence your (creative) career. “If I know that somebody is gonna be some place, and I need to meet this person, I’ll get dolled up like no other. Then, when I meet that person, and we start having a conversation, we end up legitimately doing business. Even though they may want to (flirt) with me, they won’t pass that route because they know at the end of the day I can actually bring shit to the table that [they] need.” – Lana J (@Official_LanaJ)
Thanks, Alicia Swiz, Amy Sumpter, Laura Bowers, Kellye Howard, Kat Herskovic, and Sameena Mustafa for being generous with your time and knowledge.
Don’t die from exposure! Read 5 Ways to be Paid for Your Art
Written by Onicia Muller
First published 3/16/2016 on oniciamuller.com
How do you turn your art into money? My experience is that this can be done if you have a name (i.e. you are popular) or if you have money. If you are popular, companies will want to sponsor you. If you are rich, you can force feed your generic pop tunes on the masses until we love you. But what if you have neither? This month, Cynthia Xerogianes (Actress/Stylist), Stephanie Seweryn (Writer/Producer), and I share negotiation and business skills.
REALITY CHECK from Angela Bourassa (LA Screenwriter.com)
“When will I make money? ... each year half the professional writers who are Writers’ Guild of America members report no income from writing. Even if you “make it,” you may only get a sale or a writing gig once every two years. The rest of the time you’ll have to supplement your income with teaching, appearances, or a regular day job.”
Don’t despair. It might not be time to get paid, but it’s always time to ask. Here are our 5 ways to be paid for your art
1. Be Proactive
People don’t buy products – they buy personalities and brands. Cynthia says, “They really do. You have to start somewhere. Get somebody on your team who can say, ‘yeah, I worked with her.’ Those people know people. Once you get that first person in and you start talking to them and they have a great experience with you then you can ask them for referrals directly. Tell this person your goals. People want to help, but you have to ask for it."
Organize your friends into groups and focus on about 10 – 20 of them. BE GENUINE when reaching out and reconnecting. Seriously, if you don’t like someone’s professional character, you probably won’t like the people they do business with.
A creative with type-a tendencies. I come from a family of artists and entrepreneurs. While I wait for my big screenwriting break, I share my BA in Communication and work experiences to help fellow artists get organized and put more art into the world.
Find Me Online
I say funny AND serious things. I like internet strangers.