Surveying the open-mic nights

Back when the Earth was covered by ooze and yuck and primordial murk, in an era when television networks would hire just about anybody, NBC paid me to write television comedy on a word-typing device called a Royal Standard Upright.

TECHNICAL NOTE: In bygone days, before any actual writing could actually appear (you kids are gonna love this part), pieces of paper had to be inserted into the “roller” of the Royal Standard Upright typing device by hand, one at a time.

I know, I know, it was so freaky.

My boss/head writer, the late Jack Douglas, was an enormously talented nutcase whose brilliant irreverence expressed itself in literature as well as televisionistically. (See “NEOLOGISM” in previous column.)

If you’re a reader—bless you—do yourself a favor and go check our excellent Washoe County public library system, or search the Internet, for Jack Douglas’ books. Should you be lucky enough to find even one, I promise your time and effort will not have been wasted. Two of his titles were My Brother Was an Only Child and Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver. That should tell you something right there.

Douglas’ professional philosophy screamed from a huge black-and-white sign he’d hung along the entire length of one wall of his large office. It was Jack who originally encapsulated a Cosmic Truth into the phrase that will live forever as a universal motto, mantra and cliché:

Comedy is a serious fucking business.

Speaking of comedy as a business … and I hope all of our passengers enjoyed that smooth transition … Reno is steadily blossoming into a veritable hotbed of open-mic venues for talented, but as yet “unknown,” comedians—newcomers with serious professional aspirations, those who write and perform their own original material.

Here’s a secret about comedy open-mic(rophone) nights: It ain’t karaoke. The joke your cousin Larry forwarded to you by e-mail hasn’t got a chance.

Open-mic comedy nights are established to serve three functions, the first and foremost of which is obviously to attract and entertain paying customers. The second is to provide precious “stage time” to beginners and intermediates. Last, and least important, comedy open-mic sessions are safe havens for working comedians to try out and mold new material for their ever-changing acts.

Serendipitous synergism. Synergistic serendipity. Where the hell’s the delete key when you need it?

On Wednesdays, for the summer months, comedy open-mic nights happen at the Great Basin Brewing Company in Sparks; after Labor Day, they’ll be back on their popular Thursday night schedule.

Monday is open-mic night under the new management of the Blue Max at North McCarran Boulevard and Kings Row.

At the moment, Bananas on South Virginia is doing open-mic comedy on Thursday nights. I hope they’ll switch to Wednesdays in the fall. Then there’s …

Wait a minute. I’m stepping on my own … cutting my own throat here. My “home” club is the legendary Catch a Rising Star at the Silver Legacy. And soon, maybe, I’ll work at Just for Laughs in the Sands Regency.

Aw, heck, they’re bound to understand, right? I mean, they probably will, won’t they? Maybe? Yeah … sure … nothing to worry about …

Memo to Kevin Kearney, National Booking Manager, Catch a Rising Star, Las Vegas: They’re making me do it, Kevin. Honest. They say if I don’t write all that stuff about the little open-mic clubs, I’m gonna disappear. I tried calling the cops, but they’re in on it, too. Please save my life by immediately booking me into the legendary Catch a Rising Star in Princeton. I mean, who ever heard of anybody getting iced in New Jersey?