Comedy Open Mic at the Middle East Corner
“Hi, I’m Johnny!” I said to the furball at the front desk, which was just a table at the Middle East near the door. It was Rob Crean, the host of the comedy open mic.
“Do you want to go up on stage?” he said. I was a little taken aback.
“Um,” I countered. “I’m the guy from Events INSIDER. I’m here to write an article.”
“Okay,” he said. “Do you want to go up?”
That’s how it works at the comedy open mic, every Tuesday at the Middle East Corner in Cambridge, hosted by Anderson Comedy, which is Rob Crean and John Paul Rivera. Without a question you can get 5 minutes on stage to try to make people laugh. The great part is that it works. The combination of comedy but also rooting for the overly earnest strugging comedians was entertaining, and with a new act every 5 minutes it was impossible to get bored. They were mostly young white guys, and they seemed to all work at coffeehouses, but there were a few exceptions. Most came to the stage with a funny premise that lacked a punch line, but some had punch lines without a premise to tie them together, and the stars of course had both. The whole thing was far too rapid pace for me to take secret notes during the applause break or interview anyone.
More than 30 people signed up, which means the show could start early at 9:30pm and run past midnight. Although the crowd was full of comedians — which I’m told make for a tough audience because they tend to guess where the joke is going — we laughed all night. More than 90 minutes in, I realized my butt had fallen asleep because I had been too rapt to shift around in my chair. Too bad I couldn’t stay through to the end. I’ll bring a butt pillow next time.
You wouldn’t think that a bunch of amateurs would be so entertaining, but my guess is that Rob Crean supports his community and encourages repeat performers, so the “open mic” is less a trail of unpaid talent and more a line of comedians are on their way up. The acts weren’t overly gross or vulgar, and the waitstaff did not push drinks on me, which surprised me since there was no cover charge. I even ate dinner there, since the Middle East has a full kitchen that was still open when I arrived. I looked behind me several times and found the audience paying attention, not chatting amongst themselves. I got a sense of community.
I highly recommend the Comedy Open Mic to you. Watch this space as I plan to visit and write up other venues around Boston as well. Maybe I’ll even get to do an interview next time.