Friday, September 10, 2010

Open-mic Instructions

Stand-up comedy is hard! But that is what makes it so exciting. If you have ever dreamed of doing it, or if your friends are encouraging you to, or if you are looking for a challenge, then you shoud perform at one of Humor U's Open-mics held four times a year.

If you perform at one of Humor U's Open-mics and you do really well, we will invite you to perform in... one of our "Green Spots" at our regular shows, and that could then result in being invited to be a full Humor U cast member. But Open-mic is the first step. Below are rules, instructions, and tips. If you are serious about doing stand-up comedy and you want to be a performer in Humor U - make sure to read everything here very carefully and then email us at if you have any questions.

1. You must be a BYU student, staff, alumni, or spouse of one of these to qualify to perform at Open-mic.
2. Your material/jokes must be clean and appropriate for family audiences. (if you don't know what is or isn't appropriate for family audiences, see "Bonus Tips" below)
3. You will not be allowed to use the tec podium for any multimedia. This means you can't project anything and that you can't play audio through the tec podium.
4. No one may assist you or be on stage with you during your performance. You must be completely solo.
5. Inappropriate language, actions, or subject matter will get you escorted off the stage immediately. Humor U may end your set at any time for any reason. (to avoid this from happening to you see "Bonus Tips" below).
6. All material must be original. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.

1. RSVP to this event.
2. Write a set. (see "Tips" below)
3. Arrive early to fill our an Information Sheet and get on the list to perform. If you don't arrive early enough you may not get the opportunity to perform.
4. Turn your fully completed Information Sheet in to get on the list.
5. When you name is called come to the stage immediately and begin your set - do not wait for a signal to begin.
6. Stop talking and sit down before the timer hits three minutes.

1. Come to one of our shows (go to for show dates and ticket info) or watch our YouTube clips to see how it's done:
2. Write a set.
3. Brace Yourself.
4. Ask a critical person for feedback on your set and make changes to improve your set.
5. Time your set and cut out as much as you need to to be under 3 minutes.
6. Rehearse your set in front of as many people as possible.
7. Ask the people you rehearsed in front of to give you critical feedback on your set.
8. Cut, replace, or rewrite anything from your set that isn't funny or that is a waste of time. If you go more than 20 seconds without getting a laugh - you have had a failure.
9. Repeat steps 4-8 as many times as you want, or until there isn't anything left in your set that isn't funny.
10. If you didn't repeat steps 4-8 until there wasn't anything unfunny left in your set - cut all the unfunny things from your set, even if it leaves you with less than 3 minutes.
11. If you are serious about becoming a Humor U comedian and want to impress us, don't include any jokes or material in your set that references anything specific about BYU or LDS culture.
12. Another thing if you are serious about impressing us, try to cover at least three different premises so that you can demonstrate your ability to write about different subjects.
12. If you want to hit it out of the park when you perform at Open-mic - come to one of our regular club meetings to check out the club and get a feel for how things work. If time permits in a club meeting you can perform material that you plan to use for an open-mic and we will give you feedback to help you polish it up. Club meetings are Wednesdays at 8:00pm in the MSRB.
13. Follow all instructions. If you don't follow all instructions here or additional instructions at the Open-mic we will be very unimpressed.

Bonus Tips:
Humor U does not keep a list or document of “Things You Can’t Say”. But here are some principles and guidelines that will help you to be successful.

Gospel principles are the foundation of successful joke writing and performances. Humor U shows are regularly attended by church leaders, university officials, and audience members of all ages.

Never offend. Never be crude, crass, vulgar, racist, bigoted, mean spirited, insulting, belittling, accusatory, etc. Anything inappropriate for a family audience has no place in Humor U. One sour note in a set can lose your trust with the audience that may spoil your performance beyond recovery. Self-censor first, and when it doubt – leave it out. If your material is questionable – write a better joke. There is an infinite amount of good jokes to be written, don’t waste time with the bad.

Never, in any way, say or suggest to the audience that they are unintelligent or prudish because they did not react the way you wanted them to. The burden of getting the audience to react favorably to your performance is entirely on you. You do not get to decide what is funny or entertaining; the audience holds that privilege exclusively. If you blame the audience for anything (any way, any time) they will turn on you. It is essential when writing jokes to imagine yourself as an average member of our audience in order to understand how they will react.

Humor U audiences are some of the most forgiving and gracious you will ever perform for. Never take advantage of this. Learn to tell the difference between an audience’s genuine laughter and awkward/uncomfortable responses.

Sacred things must never be made light of, although circumstances surrounding sacred things are different. General Authorities should always be referred to by their proper titles.

Derivatives of curse words should not be used. Words such as "crap" or "suck" should not be used, instead use higher language.

Subjects that generally are unworkable for joke material: sex, bowel movements, polygamy, cross-dressing, same gender attraction, and disabilities.