I went to BrainWash last night, and I’m embarrassed to say it was my first time there. I should have been going at least once a month. Their Thursday night open mic is a San Francisco comedic institution. Tony Sparks has been the host for the past 14 years, and so many Bay Area comedians have polished their jokes under his kind watch I felt like I was walking into a temple.
The place was jam-packed with new and familiar faces from the Bay Area comedy scene. As my ever-supportive husband pointed out, “If someone bombed this place there wouldn’t be a single comedian left in the Bay Area.” Due to the huge number of people on the list, Tony asked everyone to do three minute sets instead of the customary five.
I arrived just after 7pm, and my name ended up on the list at #34. After four hours of drinking iced lemonade and soaking in the atmosphere, I hopped on stage. The audience was exhausted, and everyone was ready to go home. I still had a great set, which my really, really, really supportive husband filmed on an iPhone so I could see how the audience reacted.
Here’s what I learned from my first open mic at BrainWash:
- Come early.
Get your name on the list, then order some food. It’s nice to support the good folks working there, and it gives you something to do during the long, long wait.
- Watch and learn.
Being there for four hours was like doing homework. I got to see where people laughed, what people laughed at, what topics didn’t go over well, and how people built rapport or isolated themselves. It was a great learning experience.
Everyone was super nice, and I met some really cool people, many of whom were new to town. Be sure to bring cards with your contact info. What? You don’t have cards? For goodness sakes, just make some cheap ones already.
I am so lucky to be surrounded by such supportive and hilarious people!