So, This American Life have devoted one of their TV shows to stand-up. Here’s a clip, where they cover an open mic night at a bar. I hope this gives you an idea of why I’m so excited about my open mic project, and all the stories and people that are out there: [youtube=] I … Read more

So here’s a video of our attempt to break the world record for most ukuleles playing together at the London Ukulele Festival. I’d been there to open the Grass Ukes Stage, and also because they had an open mic, but I think the world record attempt was pretty much the biggest open mic I’ve ever … Read more

So I caught the train down to Penzance, my nose all runny from hayfever and my shirt sticking to my back in the heat. As you get close, the track is bordered by lots of verdant spiky bushes and trees that look like they belong in Malta or, y’know, somewhere rather hot and exotic. When … Read more

So I finally returned to my home city, Bristol, to do some open mic poetry. I did a bit of music in April at a couple of nights put on by Mark Venus, but this was my first time coming back to do some poetry. It was pleasant in lots of ways. I got to … Read more

(click the images for bigger versions) So, as some of you may know, a while back one of my dozens of emails sent out to open mic organisers to check that their nights were still running, yielded one reply from somebody called Line, telling me that they had moved to Denmark, but that they’d set … Read more

Leroy was the first to arrive in the pub’s upstairs room. He was lanky, awkward. Johnny, the compere and organiser, was busy putting out chairs. Leroy shuffled from foot to foot, and spoke in a kind of anxious mumble. ‘Uh… I was looking on the internet, and saw this, and here I am… Is this … Read more

Coming in on the train to Bangor, you get this deliciously precarious sense of teetering on the edge of the world. With the Menai Straits on one side and the looming, mist-weathed Bangor Mountain and its foothills on the other, the UK’s fourth smallest city feels particularly wee, a temporary resident in a bold and … Read more

As I’ve intimated before, open mic nights are rare, transient things. Not quite a century flower, more a colleague’s fart that topples a polystyrene cup. In Shepherd’s Bush, I went to the Knock 2 New night at Bar FM, a weirdly clandestine cocktail bar full of leather sofas and disco lights that rolls up its … Read more

There’s an episode of Ren & Stimpy where Stimpy creates a formula that physically splits psychotic chihuahua Ren into the two sides of his personality – ‘Evil Ren’ and ‘Indifferent Ren’. As my open gigs aggregate like silt, I’m finding I’m not growing more confident, just more indifferent. At my last stand-up gig in Shepherd’s … Read more

After bailing out on Dublin, the only flight I could get that didn’t cost a pillion pounds was back to Bristol, so I thought hey, brill – I’ll go off piste. Having fallen victim to the parlous nature of open mics, it seemed fitting to take advantage of their ad hoc nature, and find one … Read more

On Friday in Dublin, I was all geed up to go to another stand-up open mic, slur an adequate routine then do the rounds of the night, harvesting real human beings who I could twist and compress into grotesque caricatures before installing them in a barbarous freak gallery known only as ‘The Project’. I checked … Read more

I am a good man. A good, clean, nice man. I deserve your respect just like anyone else. Please remember that as you read on. I sat on a metal bench on the platform in Cambridge, waiting for my train to Stansted. With my huge rucksack strapped to my back, there was barely any room … Read more

So, if you’ve been following this blog, you may have wondered about the distinct lack of open mic related updates. Am I keeping them secret? What’s going on? The fact is, for the past few days, I’ve been laid up in bed, at home, with a heavy cold. My head’s been pounding, I’ve felt groggy … Read more

So, after a Facebook invite from Marcus Keeley, I flew over to Belfast to join in with the Make Yourself Heard open mic at the Safehouse Arts Centre. When I got into my taxi from the airport, the cab driver said: ‘It’s been a strange day. First it was sunny, then it was raining, now … Read more

So, it turns out that getting sod all sleep while eating badly and subjecting oneself to repeated major stressors isn’t that good for the old immune system. My sore throat has snowballed into a hacking cough and headache. But will I surrender? No! At least, not quite yet. Chatting with my dad on the phone … Read more

I woke up in Liverpool with a hangover, crammed all my stuff back into my massive Sherpa rucksack, then staggered out to catch a bus to Lime Street station, where I caught the train to Wigan. I was in such a rush that I didn’t bother booking a hotel, thinking that Wigan would be overflowing … Read more

Funny thing happened to me tonight in Liverpool. I bombed. Rawhide Raw is a stand-up gong show. I met up with Nick Holloway early in the afternoon, and somehow I couldn’t resist drinking before my gig. I watched act after act die on its arse and thus smugly believed I could cruise through my set. … Read more

It’s odd how different an experience can feel from the inside than the outside. I’m less than a week into my Open Mic pilgrimage and already I’ve lost all objectivity and feel thoroughly baffled and sorry for myself. As anybody who has known me for a while will know, I’ve periodically suffered from bouts of … Read more

On Monday, I went to Spoonful Of Poison at The Legion in Shoreditch. The night’s compered by ‘Vis the Spoon’ – he’s got a frenetic, noisy, funny compering style that suits the night perfectly, and an awesome quiff. The acts are put on an egg timer that rings when their time’s up. Most people I … Read more

25 acts, and a big gong. King Gong at Manchester’s Comedy Store in Deansgate. If you survive the full 5 minute slot, you get to come back to do a final minute at the end of the show, then the winner gets £50 and an open slot at the club. Here’s the stage before anyone’s … Read more

This is Derek, in the Winter Gardens at Bards in the Park, playing an improvised recorder piece to start the readings: And this is an arena for pillow-fighting in my wonderful, genial hosts’ – Colin, Irene and Paul – back garden: That was the kind of ‘supportive with a sense of humour’ atmosphere they had … Read more

This is me upstairs at Mother Mac’s, the pub hosting the second of the two stand-up open mics I performed at on Friday. And this is the heaving throng dutifully watching me as I took the previous shot. Look at them grinning. Their low entertainment threshold shall be the ruin of us all. If you … Read more

Score: 0 out of 250Photographer Status: Helen KellerJob Classes –Lv25 Performance PoetLv1 Stand-upLv1 Music So, I started off on Thursday 2nd April in my current hometown of Cambridge, at Upbeat Open Mic at The Hopbine. Up until a fortnight before, it had been held in The Zebra, but when the landlady decided she could draw … Read more

Waaaah! I’ve spent the latter half of today shivering in bed, trying to ignore a rotten headache. This makes me sad, and also makes the prospect of late night stand-up slots and early morning train journeys from Manchester to Glasgow that little bit less appealing. But then, maybe that’s part of what this pilgrimage is … Read more

So, in case you don’t know, I’m kicking off a pilgrimage to open mic nights big and small all over the country (and a few beyond). I’ve got a tentative itinerary, although given that these events are mostly run by diligent amateurs, I’ve got to expect that I may turn up in a couple of … Read more