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Are Stand-Up Comics Losers?

September 26, 2012

What motivates you to become a stand-up comedian? Is it that you are a loser?

Last week I attended an Open Mic night. This open mic took place in the back room of an improv studio, inside of a mall at 7:00 in the evening on a Thursday. I knew that it was going to be bad before I got there.

The first question the emcee asked the audience was, “How many of you are not comics?” Five of the 20 people in the room raised their hands. He then wondered, “So why are you here?

The first comic told a story about asking his high school teacher out on a date after graduation. Then he stared at the audience for a few minutes. He was high.

One performer paused after a series of bad jokes and pleaded with the audience:

“Why aren’t you laughing?

How could I make that joke better?

…I guess pedophilia‘s not funny.”

The next entertainer ran on stage singing a lively song about watching bad comedy in a mall. Then he confessed that he’d drank four beers during the show. He could tell that his life was on track because this was exactly where he wanted to be on a Thursday night – telling jokes in an abandoned mall. A few seconds later, he became agitated that the audience had “lost energy” and stormed out of the room.

We were laughing at his jokes.

This open mic was an emotional roller coaster for the audience. More than one unstable “comedian” would abruptly cut himself off and berate the audience for not laughing loud enough or at all.

It was awkward.

HowDone

One guy did his set in a French-like dialect (?). He was the only comic who completed his set without incident. He didn’t care that no one “got” his jokes. He even politely told us to have a nice evening as he left the stage. He was definitely my favorite.

Hopefully, now you understand why I asked my opening question. All of the aspiring comedians at that open mic were high, drunk, depressed, or [insert uncomfortable adjective]. I understand that this was a substandard comedy show, but all comics start at the bottom. It makes me wonder whether everyone who pursues a career in stand-up comedy is fueled by intense psychological issues.

Obviously, I will attend another open mic before committing to an opinion. Probably not the same one, unless I need something to write about.

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