Unless you’re a painter, the odds are pretty high that your art requires a live audience. From overly confident slam poets to depressed musicians, a mixed-genre open mic is just a typical Tuesday night in the life of a creative soul. And, like Van Gogh in his studio, these bleak coffee houses and trendy hipster hotspots just might make you want to cut your ear off too.
Here are the five people you’ll meet at a mixed-genre open mic, and here’s how to interact with them:
The poet is easy to spot, because she’ll be the only one sitting at the communal table, in a beanie and no-prescription eye glasses, drinking herbal tea that she brought from home. She’s got a leather-bound notebook and at least 13 different metaphors to describe her fluid sexuality, so strap in, buddy, it’s going to be a long night. If you clap, she’ll resent you. If you snap, she’ll corner you after the show to talk about her new beeswax candle company.
“Here’s a song I wrote about the final chapter of my grandmother’s life,” the musician will whisper into the microphone before strumming his slightly-off-tune acoustic guitar. He’s the only artist to utilize the wooden stool onstage (except for the amateur comedian who — surprise — humps it!!) and he’s definitely the only person who rehearsed before showing up. One thing is for sure: by the end of the song someone will be crying. And it might be him.
The stand-up comedian
As soon as the musician’s song is over, it’s time to a drastic tonal shift. The stand-up comedian jumps on stage, and, without reading the room, targets an audience member: “you ever try jerking off in a Denny’s bathroom?” He’s brash, bold, and definitely “totally over PC culture”. The only good thing about this comedian is that as soon as his set is over, he’ll leave to go smoke a cigarette outside.
Since when is there an open mic here? The unsuspecting customer had literally no idea that this was happening tonight, but, lucky for them, is now trapped in the corner. They’ll try several different exit strategies (namely, the side door, the back door, and even the all-gender-inclusive bathroom window) before surrendering to the stand-up’s “crowd work” and staying for the whole show.
You didn’t ask for this. In fact, you didn’t even signup for this. Eight months ago a guy in a fedora asked you if he could utilize the “performance space” between the register and the tables – which, for the record, isn’t even a stage — and took your general apathy as a yes. Now you’re here and you don’t know how to shut it down. But, here’s the best part: not one of these people is going to actually buy anything.