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5 Steps for Hosting a Successful Comedy Open Mic

So you want to start your own open mic, huh?

Congratulations. You are on your way to better understanding what it takes to gain more notoriety and establishing an arena for comics to network and watch others grow.

Before you start, know that it takes specific steps to hosting a successful open mic that we’ve learned along the way.

1) Pick the right venue and time to start.

It can’t be said enough: location is everything.

Especially for comics looking to practice their bits, they need a solid venue that they are happy to frequent. On top of that, a reasonable time to start the mic.

When selecting a venue take into account accessibility, the number of mics in the neighborhood, and whether it’s a venue you’d eventually want to produce shows at. You should also keep in mind the sound system and whether it meets your needs.

As for time, take into consideration the day of the week. For example, an 8:30 PM mic might fare better on a Saturday than it would on a weekday when a lot of comics might have work the next day.

Taking these elements into consideration will help you do better to find what works best.

2) Cap the list and set a reasonable time frame.

From our experiences with open mics, it’s always best to run a mic that is consistent. Our mics are typically 90 minutes as we treat them like we would a live show. In doing this, we also ensure there are only 16 comics total so each comic gets at least five minutes of stage time.

Most comics don’t want to go to a mic where it’s an endless amount of people which can likely result in them getting their time cut or worse: not going up at all.

Doing this allows you to respect the comics that are there and make it worth their time.

3) Get people to reserve ahead of time.

To maintain order at an open mic, you should have some type of reservation process in effect prior to the open mic start time.

Not only does this give you a headcount of what to expect at your mic, but it is also more attractive to the comic if they know they have a spot as opposed to a mic that is just open sign up.

4) Keep the energy up.

There is nothing worse than a stale room. Having a continually stale room will not bode well for any open mic in the long run because comics remember which rooms they like and which rooms they dislike.

The host of the open mic has to know how to actively manage the energy of the room. Open mics are always more fun when the energy is up and the comics can feel like they are having a good time, even if they didn’t plan on it.

You have to think of the overall experience for your comics to keep them coming back again and again.

5) Set rules and guidelines, but know where to be flexible.

An open mic without rules and guidelines can become a total mess very quickly. At Comedians on the Loose we emphasize certain rules that help us run the mic efficiently.

When you create rules, you have to take many things into consideration, but for the most part these rules are to help you keep a good relationship with the venue so you can keep the mic going.

There are some times when you can be flexible such as if a comic tells you they’re running late. If they notify you then there’s a little room to be flexible and even save their spot. However, don’t let it become a habit. You may have other comics that want to try out the mic.

There you go! Now you have the information to start your open mic night that’ll help you create a buzz!

Got other questions or comments? Write below and tell us your thoughts!

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