Friday, September 18, 2009

Open Mic Etiquette

Since I’ve MC’d a monthly Open Mic night for the North Carolina Writers’ Network since the beginning of this year, I feel I know a thing or two about how to run an open mic. But before I get into the etiquette of one, I need to define what my Open Mics are because there are a lot of you who may think that Open Mic Nights only apply to musicians. They do, but the ones I host bring out writers of all genres: fiction, memoir, poetry, spoken word and more. We’ve had crossover artists, but for the most part we stick to the written word. At these events, we have about 20 readers and about 40 folks in the audience, which is fantastic! Imagine, 40 people decided to get off their couch and listen to other people read their own poetry!

I have some great readers who come out to our Open Mics – they come on time, they read within the 5 minute time limit and they make sure they don’t say or do anything inappropriate. They also RSVP to say they’re coming so I can get them booked on the schedule. At every Open Mic I MC I give participants a program with all of the readers listed. That way, everyone can know each other’s name and the readers know when they are up next. Having the names also provides a talking point for networking and for getting to know fellow writers. All of my Open Mics end up booked because we fill out our max of 20 readers.

Open Mic Do’s
*Let the MC know you are coming at least 3 days in advance of event (especially mine since they are so popular!)
*Practice reading your work beforehand so you know it’s 5 minutes or less
*Remind the MC if you have any specific requests for your introduction
*Keep it PG or PG-13 – sometimes there are children in the audience. And, yes, maybe they watch HBO, but don’t assume that it’s cool to throw F-bombs every which way
*Do try to stay till the end of the open mic and if you can’t, please tell the MC you have to leave
*Tip generously and patronize the bar, coffee shop, or bookstore

Open Mic Don’ts
*This is not the time or place to get on your political or religious soap box
*If the MC has motioned you to stop, don’t take another 3 minutes to finish!
*Don’t shuffle papers or chit chat while folks are reading
*Turn off your cell phone and don't text during the performance (yes, I'm talking to you!)

Most of all, have fun! Open Mics are meant to support writers and give artists a forum to present and practice their words before a live audience. There’s always a special energy in the room during an Open Mic and it’s because people are there because they want to be with other like-minded creatives who don’t think they’re funny because they scribble or mumble in odd places. See you at the next Open Mic!

Oct/Nov Open Mics

OPEN MIC AT FALLS RIVER BOOKS, Cosponsored by NC Writers' Network (NCWN)
Where: Sunday, October 25th
5:30-7:30pm Falls River Books at Falls River Town Center, N. Raleigh

Contact: If you're interested in reading, please e-mail Megan Cutter at or call her at 919-389-6423.

Join us for a Sunday evening of local literary talent following the Authors Showcase. The first fifteen people to sign up with Megan Cutter in advance will be able to read their poetry, short fiction, or memoir. Each person will read for five minutes. Or come out and listen! Enjoy refreshments: wine, cheese, and other assorted goodies along with fellowship with your fellow readers and listeners!

OPEN MIC: Bring your Five Senses To Life!, Cosponsored by NC Writers' Network (NCWN)
A Wellness-for-Warriors Workshop: Bringing Your Five Senses to Life!
Friday November 13th, 20097:30 pm - 9:30 pm
COST: $10 Donation. FREE for military families
Calm and Sense 2603-111 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh NC
Contact: Alice Osborn at

Join us for a relaxing, Open Mic Night and treat your five senses to simply feel, hear, see, taste and touch the very essence of our peaceful beings. The first fifteen people to sign up with Alice Osborn at in advance will have five minutes each to read their poetry, short fiction, or memoirs, play a guitar and/or sing a song. Let’s just sit back, listen, laugh, lust, linger and love. Enjoy light hors d'oeuvres along with fellowship with your friends and a variety of players, writers, readers and listeners. There will be time allotted for networking; refreshments and raffle drawings. Standing applause for those who attend!

No comments: