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Everyone in the Pool! A guide to Vancouver open mic comedy nights

By Victoria Banner
Pam Choi, Sam Tonning, Ed Konyha and Jonny Paul.

Pam Choi, Sam Tonning, Ed Konyha and Jonny Paul.
Photos: Joan Ullyett

VANCOUVER — It’s 8 p.m. Wednesday and there appears to be quite the event going on at Seven Dining Lounge on Broadway, just off Main Street in Vancouver. People standing at the back to get a glimpse as to what’s happening on stage where a barely audible 19-year-old is waxing on about the first time he got a boner. No one laughs. He leaves yet the crowd applauds him for trying. Repeat this process for 20 to 30 comedians and you start to get the idea of Stand-Up And Deliver Comedy Open Mic, the brainchild of local comedians Sam Lee and Ed Konyha. That and Crafty Comedy (Sunday’s at 12 Kings) is Vancouver open mic in its purest form — everyone, regardless of skill or talent, gets a turn. Half of you reading this are totally onboard and the other half of you are thinking “Why the hell would I go watch open mic when I’m treated to all the hilarious free speech I could ever hope for on the bus?” Because comedy open mic, while intended as a workshop tool for performers, can actually be a really fun time for you as an audience member if you know a thing or two about them.

You can come and leave whenever you want. If you walk by a bar and see a show going on, come sit! Open mics are free. Every comic only does five minutes so you will have missed nothing. If you’ve been sitting, for the love of God, you don’t have to stay until the end. These things go on for four hours so leaving after you’ve had your fill is completely acceptable.

Producers have ways of ensuring the show remains funny, even if 30 losers show up. The person emceeing an open mic isn’t just reading names; usually there’s an established professional comedian capable of getting booked on proper comedy shows at the helm. When crappy-boner-comic weirds out the crowd too much, the beloved emcee returns every five minutes to keep you laughing and clear the suckage for the next comic. Comedian Jonny Paul, who emcees the 12 Kings Pub open mic every Sunday, turns every gap between amateur comedy sets into a hilarious roast battle.

There are a lot of crazies at open mic, but there are just as many pros, headliners and even celebrities who will drop in from time to time and try new material. There is a certain rawness, energy and hilarity to these sets that could never be recreated in a comedy club. Open mic producers will always give priority to club acts, even if the show is in progress, so it’s never long before the show you chose to sit in on for free has the entertainment value of a $40 ticket.

So what have you got to lose?

Stand-Up And Deliver Comedy Open Mic is every Wednesday at Seven Dining Lounge and Crafty Comedy is every Sunday at 12 Kings.

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