DO NOT CONTACT THE VENUE!
Most comedy open mic shows in the DC underground comedy club scene are not actually “open” for just anyone to hop on stage. Most DC open mic nights actively shun first-timer newbies in favor of using their own established clique of 10-15 veteran comedians(usually friends of the Producer who’s running the show). It’s difficult to break into the DC standup scene when you’re new and not a personal friend of a Producer. And forget getting on a Friday or Saturday night show as a newbie-you will be diverted to a lower-visibility weeknight show(Mon-Tues-Wed-Thurs) until you’ve proven to be funny. And beware the “sign up on site” shows: as a newbie you will get bumped to a future show date, even though you arrived & signed up on time with your gang of friends in tow to see you. Because you are a newbie and presumed “not funny until proven otherwise” your slot will most likely be bumped to make room for a provenly-funny veteran. We take the opposite approach: we put first-timer newbies on our Friday & Saturday shows outright and we DO NOT BUMP YOU to a future show. We do however limit newbies to short 3mins sets, so you can’t do too much damage to the overall quality of the show☺
We currently run several weekly open mic night stand-up comedy shows in the Washington, DC-MD (Maryland)-VA (Virginia) area.
These shows are the best comedy club amateur hours for rookie comedians looking to get their feet wet in the DC standup scene.
These amateur night stand-up comedy open mike night shows for amateur comedians in Washington, DC(Georgetown) , Bethesda, MD(downtown Bethesda) and Arlington,VA (Clarendon) are great places for rookie beginners to perform standup comedy for the first time.
Perform For Us
Friday Nights in Georgetown, DC: comedy open mic night at Chinese Disco Nightclub(NOT a Chinese restaurant, NOT a disco-the name is an inside joke.It’s your typical All-American bar) in Georgetown: 10 spots ranging from 3-10 minutes depending on your skill level.
Saturday Nights in Bethesda, MD: comedy open mic night/showcase at Positano Italian Restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland includes a PAID MC 10-minute spot, PAID 25-minute Feature spot and a PAID 45-minute Headliner spot. We also have 2 unpaid 3-minute newbie first-timer spots that go on just before the Feature Act and Headliner.
Saturday Nights in Arlington, VA: comedy open mic night at Arlington Taphouse in Arlington(Rosslyn), Northern Virginia: 10 spots ranging from 3-10 minutes depending on your skill level.
Sunday Nights in Arlington, VA: comedy open mic night at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Arlington(Clarendon), Northern Virginia: 10 spots ranging from 3-10 minutes depending on your skill level.
DO NOT CONTACT THE VENUE.
Phone calls/emails to the venue are not accepted as signups.
All show slots are booked via email only to CurtShackelford@verizon.net. FaceBook messages DO NOT COUNT. Email Only.
Comics must be 18 years of age or older to perform at our shows. Some venues/shows are “must be 21 to enter”, but that DOES NOT apply to the comedians/performers themselves-they only need to be 18 or older.
When emailing requests, please put the Venue name, day & date you want to perform and your experience level (newbie or veteran) in the Subject Line of your email in this format:
Examples of correct format to use:
“O’Sullivans Sun. 10-26-2011: newbie” “Arlington Taphouse Sat.8-23-2014:veteran”
“Chinese Disco Fri. 9-23-2011: veteran”
“Positano Sat. 12-03-2011: newbie”
If there is space available on that show you will receive a confirmation email indicating you are on. If you do not receive an email confirmation reply within 4 hours, that means there are no spots available for that show. Try another date.
Each comic must signup individually themselves. You can sign yourself up, but if you have a friend who wants to get on also, they must email us directly themselves to signup.
FIRST TIMERS: Are you a beginner trying standup for the first time? Email CurtShackelford@verizon.net to sign up for a slot.
VETERANS: (more than 6 months experience): Please email us a YouTube video link of your stand-up act in the same email with your show date request, so we can gauge how much time to give you, i.e. the funnier the clip the more stage time you get. Please do not send videos of you doing sketch comedy, comedic acting, improv, hosting a talk/game show,etc-we need to see you doing STANDUP. Do not send videos of you doing “crowd work”-we need to see you doing your actual planned set. Do not send “media kits” or “press kits” that we have to dig thru to find your YouTube clip. We get approx. 25 videos a day and if we have to dig through an EPK to find your clip we will have to skip it. Send your YouTube clip link in the same email with your show date request in the body of the email at the top, so we can view it quickly, and include the password if it’s a “private” video. YouTube videos you submit DO NOT have to be great works of cinematic art. As long as we can sort of hear you and sort of see you, that’s all we need. It’s the content we care about, not the production values. If you are NOT currently living in the DC-MD-VA area, please let us know what city you are based in. Email: CurtShackelford@verizon.net.
OUT-O’-TOWNERS: Just passing through? Let us know if you’re a newbie or a veteran and what City/State you’re from. If you are a veteran, please include a YouTube clip or video link so we can gauge how much stage time to give you. Please do not send videos of you doing sketch comedy, comedic acting,improv,etc-we need to see you doing STANDUP. Please Email the video link of your act and the exact when-to-when dates you’ll be in the DC area to: CurtShackelford@verizon.net. Even if your “in-town” dates don’t match up with any of our weekly public show dates, still let us know the date range you’ll be here in DC, just in case we have some un-advertised private party paid gigs we can use you for.
MUSICIANS: Although our shows are COMEDY open-mics, we do welcome any musicians who sing humorous songs. If your music makes people laugh, we call it “comedy”!
IMPROV TROUPES: Although our shows are for STANDUP , we welcome improv comics who want to defect to the world of standup. Some of the best standup comics to pass through our ranks originally crossed over from the improv world (when they realized they were way funnier than their fellow players and wanted the spotlight all to themselves).
POETS & SPOKEN WORD ARTISTS: Although our shows are for STANDUP , we welcome any poets or spoken word artists whose material makes people laugh.
If you’ve submitted videos before and did not hear back from us, please submit a new video after 6 months more experience. 6 months more stage time can sometimes result in a huge leap in the quality of your act. Email YouTube video links to CurtShackelford@verizon.net
Most comedy club open mic amateur nights in DC-MD-VA are held in noisy “open” main areas where you’ll be competing with TV’s, video games, phones ringing, bartenders making blender drinks, people who came to chat with friends and are not interested in hearing your comedy, etc—all the normal noise you here in a typical bar. This “background noise” will make your job of capturing the crowd’s attention all the harder, adding to the already stressful situation of performing standup comedy for the first time.
For live standup comedy to work, it must be done in a properly structured environment.
Our shows are held in separate “dedicated” rooms that are distraction-free and filled with focused , behaved audience who are there specifically to see comedy, so they won’t be chatting away only paying half-attention.
There are many other open mic amateur nights in the DMV area, but ours are the best. Ask any veteran comic in the DC area and they’ll tell you our shows are the best open mic nights in DC for new amateur comics trying standup comedy for the first time.
Looking for Paid Comedy Work in the DC-MD-VA area?: Send us a YouTube clip of your act and if you’re funny we’ll put you on our weekly PAID Saturday showcase at Positano Italian Restaurant & our PAID private party gigs that pop up randomly throughout the year.
5 Basic Tips for Standup Comedy Open-Mic Night Newbies:
1.Material: if you’re stuck on what to write about, start with a past tragedy. Tragedy+ Time + Exaggeration = Comedy. If you’ve led a tragedy-free life, write about the little things that annoy you. Life’s little annoyances can be funny if put under a microscope. Keep pen & paper handy 24-7. Comedic inspiration will hit you while you are doing something else-showering, driving, etc, so be ready to jot stuff down at any moment. Some comics like to use their smartphone to jot down ideas, but this is dangerous. If a comedic insight hits you while you’re say watching a movie with your phone off, by the time you get it booted up, the idea or the exact phrasing will have slipped away. Stick to pen & paper—in this case the old school method wins. We start newbies out at 3 minutes, so write 3mins of material and practice your set so it falls under 3mins. If you do well at 3mins level once at each of our weekly shows, we’ll bump you up to 5mins level, then 7mins, 10mins,etc.
2.What To Wear: no hats, no sunglasses, no hair bangs: nothing to hide your eyes. Your eyes and the tiny expression lines around them “tell” the joke more than your mouth, so we need to see your eyes.
3.What To Bring:Bring water & your set notes on stage with you. Your mouth will go dry and your mind will go blank within the 1st minute. Having paper notes on stage is NOT unprofessional, contrary to popular belief. Having notes to refer to on stage is perfectly fine. This ain’t the Kennedy Center-it’s an open mic comedy show.
4.Microphone: Leave the mic in the mic stand for your first time, so your hands are free and you have one less thing to worry about . Raise/lower the mic stand according to your height: place foot on round base of mic stand to hold it steady, turn collar in middle of pole left to loosen. Pull mic stand pole up or push down to correct level (top of microphone should be nestled in curve of your chin). Turn collar right to tighten. Do not over-tighten. It only takes a slight tightening to make the upper pole stay in place.
5.Have Fun: 90% of what makes someone funny is actually beyond your control, so relax and “float…don’t fight”.