After another hilarious show on Sunday with Todd Barry, as happens after every show we put on, people said to me, "I had no idea this sort of thing happened in Eugene!" and continue to tell me about how they want more shows and events exactly like the ones we put on.
Well, you got plenty of chances.
I tell them about our monthly shows, and that they should invite their friends, but that there's a variety of other shows that are going on around town on a regular basis, too.
We have nationally and internationally headlining comedians coming through on a monthly basis. Some of these people you might have known of for years, and others you may never have heard of. If you're skeptical, check the comic out online beforehand to know if they're for you. But if you see Just Comedy attached to any show in any way, you can bet that we're doing our best to make the show top-notch, at whatever notch that might be.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all comedy is the same. There are also a variety of other types or levels of comedy, and you're not always sure of what you're going to get. Here in Eugene, there's everything from open mics to showcases to regional headliners and bigger shows as well. We've kind of got our hands in all the pots, but right now I'd like to look at open mics a little more.
This is where it all starts. Every comedian you've ever seen on anything started at an open mic somewhere. From Seinfeld to Chappelle, they've all done open mics. It's a grind, but it's necessary. It's where comedians learn to not only write - but perform - jokes.
The stakes are usually lower, meaning nothing amazing will come of a brilliant set, other than the resulting euporic high, and nothing awful will come from a tremendous bomb, which every comedian experiences.
There might be two audience members, 20 comics, and a bartender, or there might be 30 audience members ready to laugh - you're never really sure. One week the room might be "hot" (a good, receptive crowd), and the next week you could hear a pin drop. That's the game. That's what you signed up for when you put your name on that list or put your butt in that chair. Comedy isn't all highs, not by a long shot. Any "comic" who thinks they don't have to start with open mics is sorely mistaken.
Open mics are just that - mics that are open to pretty much anyone. You can perform. Your mom can perform. Hell, let's get your cat up there and see what happens.
Because anyone from absolute first timers to seasoned pros get onstage at open mics, you never really know what you're gonna get. You might leave feeling great about comedy, or you might spiral into a deep depression where you only eat foods from boxes for two weeks - and you were just an audience member!
Sometimes a comic will come out of nowhere and absolutely crush (have a great set with lots of laughs), and other times they'll bomb so hard you wonder who their emergency contact is.
For those of you who don't know, "bombing" is when a comedians has an awful set. No or minimal laughs, they get frazzled, they forget punchlines, they don't tell jokes, they mumble, you can't hear them, they get heckled, whatever. Anyways, it's bad, and my palms are sweating just thinking about it. If you've never experienced it, imagine getting broken up with - by everyone in the room.
Each mic is different, and may come with its own set of loose rules and guidelines that comics have to abide by in order to get consistent time on the mic. But whatever the rules of the mic are, for the love of Carlin...follow them!
The most important rule of most open mics: DON'T RUN THE LIGHT. That means, if you're told you have four minutes, do four minutes. Not four minutes and ten seconds, and certainly not five minutes. That's a surefire way to get on the host's bad side, and maybe not even be able to get on that mic anymore, or at least be banned for a while.
And not all comics are going to have the same amount of time. Some more seasoned comics might get a minute or two more, and a newbie might get a brief three minutes. Believe me, though, it's up to you to make the most of it. I've had 30 minute spots feel like 2 minutes, and I've had 3 minute mics that felt like the extended version of Rapper's Delight (in a bad way). Don't cry about it, do your time, and respect the other comics' and host's time.
For a town its size, Eugene has no shortage of open mics. Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays all have at least one weekly mic on them. That leaves Fridays and Saturdays as the only current days unoccupied by open mic opportunities, but those nights are usually booked up by showcases and other offerings.
For a list of all the open mics, check out our friends at www.eugenecomedyscene.com 's open mic page: https://eugenecomedyscene.com/open-mics
Seth and I (but mostly Seth) have recently started a new open mic on Thursdays at Sessions (44 E.7th Ave.) that has a fun twist. It's a comedy open mic bingo. What's that mean? Good question, and we're still figuring out how to explain it every week. But basically, it's just like bingo, but with comics on the mic doing their jokes. If they talk about a certain topic that's on your bingo card, you get a square. If they do something on your bingo card, you get a square. And so on.
And once you get a row all filled in, you say "Bingo!" and win a prize. There is a judge, however (it's been me so far), and if you marked a square that I don't have marked, then you have to argue your case to me. If the judge doesn't agree, then we keep playing and you don't get your bingo. Sound complicated? Well, I promise it's not. It's a pretty fun way to learn a little more about comedy, get a couple chuckles and maybe even see the next Chappelle...
When I had the idea for Just Comedy, it was because I saw a space in Eugene that could be filled. I’d built a certain skill set, and level of determination, to make things happen in spaces where they hadn’t happened before. For some eight years, along with some of my funniest and hardest-working friends, we built an English-language comedy scene that wasn’t really there before in Seoul, South Korea (and beyond). We weren’t the first to do it, and we’re definitely not the last, and that’s important.
What matters is that we did it. We booked international headliners, we booked monthly and weekly and sporadic shows in bars and hotels and halls and cafes and subway cars, often to the bemusement and befuddlement of the unsuspecting patrons and passerby. But that didn’t stop us. We just kept going. Until we left.
Eventually the pull of the return to North America became too great for me to ignore. And not because my life abroad was boring or unfulfilling, but because the seasons were changing, or my friends were all leaving and I didn’t want to go through the painstaking process of making friends again as an adult, or some other reasons that I can’t think of right now. And other things were calling me: a job opportunity (that failed), a romance (crashed and burned), and family (also challenging) all made me want to (or quite possibly forced me to) start again…in my hometown.
And after about a million other things, I found Eugene again. It’s my hometown. Born and raised. West Eugene guy here, blue collar family, never had too much. (Don't worry, I'm not about to bust into some John Cougar Mellencamp song.) And through opening my eyes to other people and opportunities, I’ve experienced so much more of Eugene than I’ve ever seen. It’s been awesome. Through relationships and pursuits and shows and people, I’ve stumbled upon a newfound appreciation for my Eugene. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got an ambivalent relationship with my hometown, but that’s okay. We all do, and I’m going to keep on making the best of it while I can, one show at a time.
Flappy New Year, everybody! Well, we're back in the Roaring 20's so get out your ankle length skirts and fancy pearl headbands and be prepared for prohibition once again! Actually, I don't know what any of that means, as I have been sick for literally every second of this decade, which is a tenuous start at best. Even though I feel like a moist towelette that's been dried and covered in cat hair, I still feel good about what's to come!
What I really want to say is thank you for making 2019 such a great first year for Just Comedy, and the Eugene Comedy Scene in general. Without so many amazing community members coming out to our shows and helping us along the way, we wouldn't be able to bring the best comedians working today to little old Eugene, Oregon. Please keep coming, and bring your friends. The more people that show up, the better we can make this thing.
As far as what's to come, we're excited about the upcoming year. We've got more great shows coming up with Todd Barry in January and Jonah Ray in February, and you'll get a bigger taste of more local comics for our one-year anniversary show in March. Our goal is to put on a big show at Whirled Pies every month, while also expanding shows to other venues, like Sessions on Thursdays for comedy open mic bingo along with some other great featured shows there as well.
So here's to easily bendable resolutions, a great year behind us, and a great year ahead. 2020 - the year of the Rat with perfect vision!