First off major props to City Weekly’s, Scott Renshaw for writing this cover story on the local comedy scene. Otherwise I never would have discovered the wonder of open mic nights at The Complex.
Every Tuesday night a local crew of comics show up with notebooks, pens and smart phones to try and make each other laugh. Apparently family and friends like to come too for moral support. Last Tuesday, Andrew and I made our first appearance as difficult to please audience members. (I’m hypercritical, luckily for me and the comics, Andrew is not.)
After a lot of searching on the terrible Complex website, I concluded we could roll in around eight and not miss a thing.
Turns out after a brief chat with the bartender, Buck, I was sort of right.
According the the keeper of the alcohol, Tuesday usually follow a slow arrival from about 7:30 to 8-ish as everyone drifts in from their day jobs. The show will start some time between 8 and 8:30 p.m., each comic is given five minutes to perform with the night wrapping up around 10 p.m.
From what I saw this was pretty much exactly what happened. We pulled up to the warehouse-cum-venue thrilled to see people there around 7:45. After a quick ID check, we walked past neon lighting into a cell of a room with a tiny corner stage bearing a single microphone and a bar with a lonely bartender. We chatted with Buck, got our drinks and sat. Shortly the room filled with a mostly late 20s to early 30s crowd of anxious would-be performers. A few older people were sprinkled in the crowd, later to be called out as parents of souls braver than mine.
The host for the night took to the stage and opened with a meta-humor set that fell flat. He continued to bomb through the night, and at a certain point my pity for him became anger. I just wanted him to go away so the other comedians could perform. But aside from a few truly terrible pieces, most of the amateur comics had me smiling and a few even got some laughs.
There were some standouts, Levi Rounds, Chris Chris (not his real name) and Eric from New York. One of the few ladies of the night, was especially hilarious. I just can’t remember her name! She had an unbelievably crude set that put me in mind for “Girls.” She was comfortable onstage, read her audience well and had some of the best timing of the posse.
Most of the comedians stuck to material discussing legalizing drugs, why gay men are better than straight men and penis humor with one notably angry ex-Mormon. (Another name I’ve forgotten.) It was about as not nice humor I could imagine combined with the cynicism that comes from living in the SL,UT. The self-deprecation was funny, but sad enough to leave me emotionally confused at times. This made things awkward.
In the end, we left at 10:15 with more comics to go because I couldn’t handle the strangeness any more. Two hours of hit and miss comedy is a lot of obnoxious yelling, singing and confusing story-telling.
Open-mic night probably isn’t the best venue for me to enjoy myself, as I get much more embarrassed for others than I do for myself. However it definitely made for an interesting night. At the very least I’m happy to see another side to SLC.
Most likely I’ll hang out at some other local open mic nights, just to witness the madness.
(No, I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough to get on stage myself. Would you?)