21 Simple Steps for Performing Standup at Open Mic Night at Dallas Comedy House

Do I look funnier in black and white?
Do I look funnier in black and white?
Courtesy Paige Skinner

Yeah, you think you’re a hot shot all right. Once, in the 11th grade, someone called you funny, and just like a bad STD, it stuck with you forever. "Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Kirsten Wiig are so funny, and you’re just like them," a drunk guy at a bar once told you. Take it one step further and prove your funniness to yourself and the girl you lost "Most Witty" to senior year by performing at open mic night at the Dallas Comedy House. It’s easy. Simple, really. I mean, I did it and I created this handy 21-step list to document my success and share it with the world, or at least, with you, whoever you are.

Step 1: Observe open mic night as a spectator
The room is small. Eight people can fit into this room, max. Everyone is drinking. There’s a guy on stage reading one-liners off his phone. No one is laughing. It’s painful. You awkwardly laugh because he made a cheesedick joke. At least you know you could just read your tweets about 19 Kids and Counting and get the same feedback as this guy.

Step 2: Leave Dallas Comedy House and tell your friend you’re doing it next week
You are confident. You are young. You are fearless. You are Taylor Swift dancing in the front row of an award show. Albert Einstein never knew about the lightbulb until he screwed it in, or whatever, so you will never know if you are a young Jay Leno until you try it. Oh, god. Don’t be Jay Leno.

Step 3: Tell a few other close friends your plans
“It’s not really a big deal. It’s just to see if I can do it.”

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Step 4: Have those “friends” immediately create a Facebook event for said open mic
They invited everyone. They invited your friends. Their friends. Your ex-boyfriends. Their ex-boyfriends. Your former Sunday School teacher. They've invited 25 people to watch you attempt standup comedy for the first time in your life. It’s fine. It’s all really fine.

Step 5: Begin writing jokes
Think, think, think. What was that thing your grandma said last week about that thing? I should watch the VMAs. They will provide quality jokes. Did anything funny happen on my last vacation? What is my conservative aunt saying on Facebook today? What if I just stole all my jokes from another comedian like the Fat Jew? That worked well for him.

Step 6: Rehearse
Summon your roommate to listen to your routine three times per day. Then rehearse in the car. Rehearse in the shower. Rehearse in front of your dog.

Step 7: Question everyone who has ever called you funny
The more you rehearse, the less funny you become. Call everyone who has ever called you funny and ask them to repeat the funniest thing you’ve ever said.

Step 8: Avoid all comedy things
Don’t watch late night TV and don’t watch that new standup special on Netflix. You want to have a voice of your own. Even if it’s an awful one, at least it’s yours.

Step 9: Practice a seven-minute set
Then read the rules on DCH’s website and realize you’re only allowed three to five minutes. Cut out your Caitlyn Jenner-at-a-baby-shower joke. R.I.P.

Step 10: Receive unsolicited advice from a Facebook friend who you have never heard say anything funny in the history of mankind
Annoyed.

Step 11: Email DCH asking to be added to the lineup
Make sure it’s before midnight on the Sunday before the Tuesday you want to go on. There are rules, dammit. Follow them.

Step 12: Wait an entire week before hearing back
Well, that was fun while it lasted, but they’re never going to pick me. I’m going to have to tell everyone to cancel their plans of seeing me and no one will ever talk to me again because they will be so mad they planned their Tuesday night around watching me perform standup. At least I can stop rehearsing.

Step 13: Receive a confirmation email a few hours before the open mic begins
WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL. I’M PERFORMING STANDUP TONIGHT. I NEED TO SHAVE MY LEGS.

Step 14: Go to dinner with your friends
Indulge in a few margaritas to loosen up.

Step 15: Head to DCH
Scope out the room. There are more people here than you were expecting. It’s fine.

Step 16: Sit through the dozens of other acts
Listen to a 10-year-old absolutely kill it about online dating, pedophiles, school, life. It’s fine. She’s just 10, what does she know about life, except way more than me apparently. Why didn’t my parents take me to comedy clubs when I was 10? I was funny. This entire thing right now would be a lot different. I would already have 14 years of experience. Now I’m mad at my parents.

Step 17: Go to the bathroom and rehearse with a friend
Pick the handicap stall for more room to move.

Step 18: Ask the regulars for advice
They will say, “Just have fun.” You will murder them with your eyes.

Step 19: Pace back and forth outside the room
No, no, this is a bad idea. I can’t be out of breath on stage. Also those two margaritas want to come up right about now. Don’t let them. Don’t gag. Once you gag, it’s all over. It will be all over. The vomit and your standup career.

Step 20: Have the man announce your name and say that it’s your first time ever
Did he say my name? What’s my name? Someone pull the fire alarm. Did he just tell everyone this was my first time? Oh, that’s good. At least people will feel sorry for me if this is a total bomb. I’m like a breast-feeding woman in a park. You can’t be mean to me.

Step 21: Begin telling jokes
Black out. You have no memory of what happens after your first word. Pray no one recorded it.

Dallas Comedy House hosts a free stand up comedy night at 8 p.m. Tuesdays.

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