Sunday, February 9, 2020

My First Open Mic

I was living in Carbondale Illinois, going to SIU to study film. I had been obsessed with the idea of doing stand up for about a year before that, and decided that this was the place I was going to start. As I'd be a new guy in a new town at a new college, and wanted to recreate myself.

Walking around campus one day I saw a poster for Double Shot Comedy open mic on Wednesday nights at The Long Branch Cafe. I rattled this idea around in my brain for a month or so, thinking of stuff to write, and fighting the thoughts of fear and what not, and decided to go on the night of October 23rd 2013.

I biked over there from my dorm building, and I sat in a booth for a few moments looking at my notecard of "jokes" and a big friendly looking bearded man walked over to me slowly. He asked me if I was there for the open mic and I said yes. I told him I wanted to perform for the first time. He understood and told me his name was Pat, and I told him mine, and he left me to my preparation.

The show soon began and he went up there to introduce the show and told some jokes. There was no microphone, which startled me.

"So let's get the show started. It's this guys first time performing! Please give it up for Luke Warner!"

I did not expect to go first. People clapped, and I went up there as my stomach dropped and my heart pounded through my chest.

I don't remember much of my jokes, I do remember one joke I told that I heard from my grandfather which was "One good thing about Alzheimers is that you can hide your own Easter Eggs". The audience made a noise that I'd never experienced. I thought it was only laughter or silence. There were groans, and sighs, and some laughs here and there through out.

A pic I drew of myself on 4/7/2014
I also said something about how my friend told me that he heard of a frat that used to lace the faucets in their house with roofies for when girls who came over for parties needed a drink of water. I must have had some kind of joke in there. The rest of the jokes I don't remember. 

I was up there for maybe 3 or 4 minutes, I remember shaking a bit, and the laughs I got were okay enough to make me believe it went decent. I got off the stage and sat down to watch the rest of the show.

At one point a guy named Austin Acree went up and made fun of my shirt, as it said "KOK" on it, which was a shirt my sister gave me, referencing a bar "Killroys on Kirk". That, of course I would make some kind of joke about roofie ing girls. So I didn't like him then. I grew to like him a lot as he was a nice guy and very funny.

The closer for that evening was a blind guy. He had a big beard, a white dress shirt, big black sunglasses, a sweet hat, and his cane. He went up there and said "Give it up for Luke, it was his first time on stage and that takes a lot of balls." So everyone clapped for me and it felt really nice. He did about ten minutes on weddings, and about how he's perfect for ugly women.

The show ended and I went up to him and thanked him for giving me props. He put his hand out for me to shake it and I did. I never saw him again, and he never saw me. I said goodbye to Pat and the rest of the folks. Feeling good that I had a new community to come back to. I biked home that night feeling accomplished, as I'd finally done stand up.

I went back there 13 more Wednesdays, and did a different open mic 5 times at a bar where people didn't pay attention much and or heckled. I missed two Wednesdays at Long Branch because I found out that my grandfather died on one of them in December, and that my dog died on one of them in April.

I remember the one where my dog died because instead of going, I walked around near campus and found a basketball court and a few deer hanging out near by. I took a video of the deer as they were staring at me, and I was contemplating going closer to them but was too scared to do so. I felt oddly connected to them and nature as I was sad about my dog.

I did a total of 18 open mics during my year in Carbondale. It helped my time there as I struggled at that school. I expected to be a hit with all the ladies, and make a bunch of new friends, and I didn't really do either. 

I had two roommates, one black dude with a child from the West side, and a short Napoleon complexed black dude from the South Side. We would smoke blunts in the bathroom, and they would tell stories of gang banging and what not. So I started off in fear of them and tried my best to fit in with them.

I soon moved out of their room into a room with a milk toast white kid from Oregon. If I had stuck it out in my old room for another month or so I could have had it to myself, as my old roommates got kicked out of the school for shooting people with paintball guns. 

Playing basketball, making short films and doing open mics were the best things for me in Carbondale. 

I didn't do that much film stuff there either, I wanted to be making more movies in class. I did make one comedic short film that turned into a trilogy. I also made a documentary about my little circle of comedians in Carbondale.

I am proud of myself for doing that at that time, it provoked me to find improv, and create a new comedy journey for myself. Doing stand up was my first time ever performing on stage in any capacity.  I'll always remember that time and those people I started with. 

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