First Open Mic

by Eric Jolicoeur aka Balls

  • tags:
  • Open Mic

Stefan and I have been building Big Timing Comedy for about 6 years now, and throughout this time my focus has been talent/booking, production, business development, administrative, book keeping, all things running a small business. I have been asked a million times if I do comedy and I have always responded 'no' that's not what I do, aside from me kicking off our showcases the comedy is Stefan's wheel house. Over the years I have dabbled  in writing jokes and trying them out during my show intros to break up the promotional opportunities in front of a 'thirsty for comedy' audience.

We started an open mic night at Roadie Joe's in November 2018. I took this opportunity to really focus on my writing, Stefan and I work shopped it as we headed out of town for the three hour drive on a Thursday night to the Roadie Joes open mic night. We arrived late due to traffic, thankfully John Dayton was hosting the night so it took some of the burden off of me. As the lineup started to work it's way to me, John called Stefan up and he was essentially supposed to close the open mic out as the 'headliner' considering he was most seasoned comic in the room. I panicked because I wasn't going to follow Stefan's act, I KNOW what he is capable of on stage. I immediately told John to not call me up when Stefan was done, I then walked to the back of the room and took a minute to calm myself. John walked back and apologized for messing up the order, and thought that I should still go up. After self deprecating and feeling that I didnt deserve to go on after Stefan, I finally said to myself, 'Fuck It', you only live once and I will regret it if I dont follow through. Stefan was shocked that I was going to do it because he even treated it as a closing set and he did very well (Shocker).

So I hit the stage and I kicked off my bit with an observational joke about my shirt looking just like another comic's shirt, and I got solid laughs! I could see Stefan's face in the middle of the room and he had a genuine look of shock and amazement. It gave me a boost of energy, and continued to work through my set. The rest was kind of a blur, however after the show ended, I was getting compliments from both audience members and other open micers. I had been spending time with comedians and open micers for the last 6 years and had never experienced the sense of comradery and sense of the 'inner circle' as I did at that moment. I actually felt like 'one of the guys/girls'. I was part of the highly sought after 'comedian club' even though we were all just a bunch of open micers. What we share is the pure adrenaline junkie seeking approval of complete strangers doing something that very few have the courage to do........Stand up comedy.

I was officially bit by the bug and hard. Our drive home that night was just another post milestone high adrenaline team experience for the books. I couldn't wait for the next open mic, however as the next one approached, the sense of joy lessened as the first time, the expectations of myself were so low, and now the bar was higher. The first time, the goal was simply dont eat a giant dick (industry term for doing really bad on stage), this time it was still dont eat a dick but it was to get that same rush, hear those laughs and walk away knowing I can keep building on this tiny thing I've started. To add to it, Stefan was unable to go so I lost what felt like my strongest support system and my safety blanket. On the other hand a positive, Intern Andy was wiling and able to go! This open mic was on a Saturday, which meant maybe a bigger crowd, and Andy was debating doing time as well. It would be his first ever open mic. As we drove we started to discuss our jokes and we organically started to work shop them. I took the lead and Andy was so helpful with my stuff and I started to get really excited for hitting the mic and I even indicated as such. Then we started to go over Andy's ideas for jokes. Now Andy told me prior to leaving, "I dont think I am going to do it". I responded with, "Why?!?! You have good material". Andy had all of the normal fears, and I didnt want to push him but I knew once we started talking about it and working set lists he'd be all in at the 2 hour mark of the drive...and he was ready! We stopped at my parents house so I could help with some things and Andy sat on the couch writing and polishing his 3 minute set with commitment and passion. I was proud. After a few hours, we headed on to Roadie Joes Bar and Grill in Salisbury MD.

We arrived and set up at a table right in the middle of the room. We hadnt done a Saturday open mic so I was not sure how it would turn out and there were already less people there than the Thursday open mic we had done two months prior. We decided we would record each other's sets to be able to see how we really do, we call it 'game tape'. Andy went up before me, and he did so well. Ive known Andy for a long time, and the amount of personal growth I've seen him accomplish in just the last 5 months has been mind blowing. For the lack of a better word Andy is a wall flower, but he has conquered many of his fears between being an active role on the podcast and now this! Stand up comedy in front of 60-70 people! Now I was starting to get nervous because my time was approaching, and I didnt want to be known as the 'CEO' while I was up there, just another open micer in the lineup, but John introduced me as such before coming up so I kinda of had to own that...Im not sure why I wanted to approach it this way?

I hit the stage with my typical energy, now to interject, I am always impressed when comedians come into a new town they've never been in and can make quick observations and write and deliver ad hoc jokes (Mickey Cucchiella is the king of this). It is a goal of mine to be able to do this, I gave it another shot and it got some laughs. I continued into my set which I had 2 jokes in place. It went well, not as well as I'd hoped but there was a lot of chatter in the back by the bar so it was challenging to really hear the reactions, a known pitfall of open mics. Again, this is when things tend to go blurry as the lights are bright, you're focused on delivering. When I came off, I asked John if he had lit me and he said he had 3 min into my set......I broke the cardinal rule....I ran the light, not by a few minutes but by 5ish....maybe more. I felt awful, but John didnt give me to much shit and he said something along the lines of, it was YOUR open mic. :) I learned a solid lesson here and that is be mindful of the light and/or your time. As a producer you'd think this would be second nature, it wasnt. While I was talking to John, another really talented open micer who I respect Jay Banks approached me and praised my joke and said what every comic wants to hear from another, 'that joke is amazing, I wish I had thought of that!' Its the highest compliment you can get. Again, I was part of the inner circle of this group of people and it felt great! To add to it, everyone that came both as audience members and comics our production was highly praised. I couldnt have felt more fulfilled. THIS is why I do comedy.

Andy and I drove home in a snow storm on that very same adrenaline rush I spoke of with Stefan. What is cool is being a mentor to Andy and sharing these incredible moments of personal and professional success.

Until the next time......Laugh On!!