Laughs on Philly Open Mic is the best spot in town to start stand-up comedy. Take it from me because it’s where I started.
History of Laughs on Philly
The premier Monday night open mic in Philly was not always at Ortlieb’s.
Laughs on Fairmount
It all starts March 15, 2011 at Urban Saloon. Mary Radzinski and Carolyn Busa create Laughs on Fairmount, the predecessor to Laughs on Philly. It’s a smash hit. The next year they went on to win the WitOut Best Open Mic Award. During this time I tried stand-up for the first time at their show. Trivia alert: Brian Durkin’s first time doing stand-up was at Urban Saloon during Laughs on Fairmount. I did it a handful of times at laughs on Fairmount, but it didn’t stick. I didn’t live in the city, and I had a lot of other distractions pulling me away from comedy.
Fast forward several years later at I returned to Urban Saloon. But I had come to find out that it was no longer Laughs on Philly. Mary and Carolyn both moved on to bigger and better things. The new show honored their achievements.
Laughs on Philly
Rising from the ashes of Laughs on Fairmount, the new comedy brand took up the mantle of Monday open mics. They stayed true to what made the original show successful. Unfortunately Urban Saloon decided they no longer wanted comedy at their establishment. Out of the blue they informed the guys behind Laughs on Philly that they were no longer welcome to use their space.
In search of a new venue, the Laughs on Philly crew searched the city of Philadelphia far and wide. The community was in desperate need of a new open mic. A place where new and seasoned comics can try out their freshest material. Lucky for everyone they found Ortlieb’s.
Why It’s the Best Philly Open Mic to Start Stand-Up
There are a lot of open mics in the city, but this is why you should start here.
3 Minute Sets
Most other open mics give comics five minutes. You may want more stage time, but there are other things to focus on first. As a new comic you’ll need to feel comfortable holding the mic, speaking to a room of people under the lights, remembering your jokes, etc. Once you’re comfortable on stage, then you can actually deliver you jokes with the gusto they deserve. And there is nothing worse then committing to a bit that goes nowhere. That’s a fast track to bombsville. So as you learn to be funny on stage and write jokes for the stage, 3 minute sets will give you just the time you need.
In Order of Sign-Up
Many open mics in the Greater Philadelphia Area are not fair. If you are the first person to sign up, most open mics will not let you go up on stage first. Open mic showrunners argue that they want to ensure that it’s a great show for the audience. If they don’t know a person, they don’t want to gamble and put someone new on stage early on. It could kill the vibe in the room, or worse walk audience members.
This is a flawed argument. For starters it assumes that their is an actual audience of civilians watching the show. Other comics do not count. Next it removes all responsibility from the open mic host if the show starts to suck. On showcases and other professional gigs, anything can happen. A comic can have a bad set or the crowd could be weird. Either way the show might need a host that can rally the audience back into wanting to laugh again.
Any open mic that puts comics up in the order of sign-up is the best for new comedians. Not only does it ensure that you go on stage at a reasonable hour, but it kills some butterflies. Open mics that use a lottery system could be a real anxiety trigger for some performers. Not knowing when you’ll be on stage isn’t the best way to prep for a performance, especially if you’re not used to being on stage. So stick to mics that put comics up in order of sign-up.
We Support Laughs on Philly
One of the earliest episodes of the podcast featured three of the many people behind Laughs on Philly. Check it out and learn about all the awesome things they are doing for Philly comedy.