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How to Audition for The Laugh Factory: The Open Mic Audition

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Laugh FactoryThe open mic at The Laugh Factory is often considered an audition because it is the first step in getting noticed by the people in charge.

From their official website:

If your 2-3 minute open mic performance goes well, you will move on to showcase. Showcasers perform for six minutes and are not restricted to G-rated material. Showcasers can move on to become a Laugh Factory regular. 

WATCHING THE OPEN MIC: 06/18/13

I’m neurotic and always aspire to have as much information as possible… So, I went down to watch the open mic to get an idea of what to expect. I had to buy a $20 ticket to enter (it’s only $10 if you know one of the comics who is performing). I know it seems weird that you have to pay to watch an open mic…but I guess they charge because they often have some of their regular comics perform after the open mic-ers and showcasers. And bonus…if they have seats available for their 8pm show, they let you stay to watch that one for free.

This is what I learned from just watching:

  1. The host’s name is Harvey Dunn.
  2. Each comic gets 3 minutes on stage.
  3. Your material must be G Rated only.
  4. They give you the light (aka “light you”) when you have 10 seconds left.
  5. The light is a small red gumdrop shaped thingy hanging from the ceiling house right (if you are standing on stage it will be in front of you and off to the left).
  6. You can only perform at the open mic once every four weeks.
  7. Taking photos and/or video of your performance is not allowed.

SIGNING UP FOR THE OPEN MIC: 08/20/13

Open mic sign-up is every Tuesday at 5pm unless it’s cancelled. They’re really good about updating their website, so check their open mic page before heading out to make sure a sign-up is happening that night. I’d been warned that people started lining up hours before in order to secure one of the coveted first 15 spots in line (there are only 15 spots each week for the open mic). So at 1:45pm I parked in the shopping center garage across the street (ugh…$12). At 2:00pm I took my place in line. There were two people ahead of me (see the video below). Around 2:45pm I noticed there were already 11 of us in line. At that point I was bored and freaking out because I still had at least 2 hours to kill…so I sat down, wrapped my arms around my legs, rested my head on my knees, closed my eyes… And woke up at 5pm to the voice of the lovely lady with the sign-up sheet. (I think being from Chicago has enabled me to fall asleep anywhere. Was always sleeping on the train or bus and somehow managed to wake up before my stop at least 97% of the time.) I signed up and they gave me two VIP passes to give out to my guests. That was a little strange to me. People invite friends to watch them at an open mic where they are only performing 3 minutes and there is a two drink minimum?

PERFORMING AT THE OPEN MIC: 08/27/13

I arrived around 6 for the 6:30pm open mic show. They let us in at 6:30 and we were instructed to sit in the first two rows. A couple of comics had brought friends so there was a sprinkling of non-comics in the audience. The host, Harvey, was delightful. We shared a fun little moment when he asked me why I had three first names. If you do the open mic, make sure to check-in with the host when you get there. If you don’t check in, your name will not be called.

The show started at 6:44pm. Harvey took the stage and went over the rules. Then we received some disappointing news. The founder and CEO, Jamie Masada, was at a different Laugh Factory in another state that night so the open mic audition was simply an open mic. At first I was super bummed. I couldn’t believe I waited in line for three hours and spent precious moolah on parking just to do an open mic. But then I decided to look at the bright side. Maybe I was meant to experience performing on that stage prior to the owner seeing me so that I could be more comfortable for the actual audition. Maybe.

So…the line-up is based on what your place was in line the previous week. This is kind of good to know because if you hate going first…I suggest hiding around the corner on sign-up day until a few other comics get in line. I ended up being second instead of third because one of the comics didn’t show up.

The show lasted 45 minutes and 25 seconds. 11 open mic-ers and 1 showcaser performed. The individual sets ranged from 1 minute and 12 seconds to 3 minutes and 34 seconds. The comics that brought friends received generous laughter (maybe I should invite friends…perhaps this is a strategic move). As per usual, the other comics in the audience just stared at me on the stage as if I was the teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

After the show, the audience member sitting behind me took all of the hot, sexy ladies aside and gave them advice. He did not give me advice. I choose to believe it’s because I was brilliant.

All in all, was a fun time. I will certainly try again and even though it seems so gauche…I will invite some friends to watch.

Let’s end on this.

WHAT DOES G RATED MATERIAL MEAN?

I emailed The Laugh Factory with this question but didn’t hear back. They probably wanted me to be a big girl and use common sense or figure it out for myself. So I did what any modern day lady would do…I turned to Facebook.

Anyone have advice about this? When a comedy club asks you to do a G Rated set… what does that mean to you? To me it means no swearing, no dirty gestures, no nudity… Are the words “sex” or “lovemaking” totally off the table as well? Like no innuendo at all? Even Bugs Bunny had some innuendo right? Would love your thoughts!

“Anything that Leno, Letterman or Fallon would do. I think it usually means don’t use certain words like the “F” word but milder words are probably okay. Most innuendo is okay, in my opinion, as long as the language is not graphic. Also, when you look out into the audience, if there are children there, then you know you have to act accordingly but it’s very rare when kids are in the house. I think words like “Sex” and “lovemaking” are totally okay.” – Max Mitchell

“G rated set would be anything you can say on the national networks like NBC, CBS, ABC… you can make sex jokes but you have to say whoopie lol.” –  Janardana Rao Jonnada

“Really depends on the audience, are they religious folks? Children present? Use your good judgement in that instance.” – Stevie Mack

“Pretend there’s an 8 year old up front. Then do your job.” –  Zenobia Del Mar

“To me its no bad words, no sex stuff at all and no making fun of religion and just be careful not push things too far.” – Tyler Warren

Have you done the open mic at The Laugh Factory? If so, we would love to hear from you in the comments section below. Tell us about your experience! And…would also love to know what G Rated means to YOU!?

Much Success,

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About Marilyn Anne Michaels

Actress/Waitress/Writer/Comedienne - Marilyn Anne Michaels is a member of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA. She trained at the Second City Chicago Conservatory Training Center and did tons of theatre before moving to Los Angeles in 2006. Marilyn co-created and starred in the award winning web series The Best Friend. Marilyn does not like writing bios.