Recently I ventured to The Laughing Skull in midtown Atlanta for their open mic night. Not only was the experience humorous and entertaining, but it also made me realize how vital it is to support new creative talent.
I saw well over 10 amateur stand-up comedians- some funny, some not so funny. However, I still have the upmost admiration for anyone brave enough to bare their soul to an audience of strangers.
Below is my evaluation of the performer I found most intriguing. Hopefully this gives you an idea of what to expect if you choose to check out an open mic night at a comedy club near you…
You wonder if Brian Edmond stumbled onto the stage by accident. Perhaps he awoke from a nap, threw on a black t-shirt and jeans from his pile of dirty laundry, took a wrong turn on the way to his dealer’s house and somehow found himself holding a microphone in front of an audience. Edmond is waiflike, unshaven, and emblematic of every stereotypical hipster you see smoking a cigarette outside of a coffee shop. His vacant eyes scan the now uneasy audience. When Edmond finally speaks, his voice is unsurprisingly monotone.
Edmond kills the tattooed elephant in the room by addressing his appearance. He acknowledges how strange it is that he is so skinny even though he smokes a lot of weed. You quickly realize that Edmond isn’t here to tell jokes; he is here to have a conversation. Edmond mostly speaks with his head down and his mouth pressed closely against the microphone. When he looks up, his glossy eyes aren’t searching for laughter. He’s just making sure we’re listening. The irony of a stand-up comic who doesn’t care what anyone thinks is what starts to make this set funny.
The first few minutes of Edmond’s hazy thoughts and observations are about his drug use. He fidgets with the microphone and tells us a story about his friend who smoked too much and thought he had a collapsed lung. He explains that he couldn’t take his friend to the hospital, because that would be absurd. Would the doctor give him “magic” skittles and tell him they are “collapsed lung pills”? He lets out a flimsy laugh and we laugh too, if not at the story then at his dry delivery.
As Edmond starts telling us he is an Uber driver, his body language becomes more casual and relaxed. He recalls a young man who got into his car and gleefully remarked that he’s never had a white driver before. In fact, most of his passengers are racist, and one man even asked him to run over a black guy in a parking lot. Edmond surmises that the concept of Uber is actually just inherently racist, and we all laugh because he is probably right. However, Edmond doesn’t mind working for a company designed to put minority cab drivers out of work, because being an Uber driver means driving around hot, drunk girls. One time a girl begged him to take her to get food, and he said sure, but only if she would have sex with him first. It is only because Edmond appears so physically fragile and nonthreatening that we don’t feel guilty for laughing.
Edmond looks vaguely relieved when he is cued to wrap up his set. He just started getting the hang of things, but still isn’t completely comfortable. He mumbles a “thank you” to the audience, turns around and waves without making eye contact, and then saunters offstage. You feel as though you just went on a date with someone who didn’t appear to have prepared at all and was wholly uninterested in you. Logically, you shouldn’t want to go on a second date. But, then again, there was just something about him that piqued your curiosity.