2 Very Different Devon Open Mics
For some unknown reason creative block had shifted earlier in the day and I finished two poems including my first super-positive (yet not soppy) love poem. It was the product of a 4 month drive to write something that just makes people smile without a negative twist or gritty analysis of contemporary Britian. It's called Junk Food Date and is about the intertwining relationships between me, a girl and junk food.
On Monday night I attended Oddfellows open mic. The night, which has recently been taken over by new host, Simon, is gaining momentum and frequently fills the tiny Exeter venue with quality performers and a polite audience. When Simon requested silence for the poetry everybody in the room happily obliged and as such I was able to produce a crisp and focussed performance of my new works, resulting in a fantastic response. A member of the audience who was there scouting for talent invited me to read on his forthcoming Phonic FM show and I even had someone at the back yell "Read the one about Russia" which put a smile on my face. It's nice to be remembered.
The benefits of warming up my face muscles and voice prior to reading is becoming very evident. I have started reciting tongue-twisters before going on stage. As well as a few of my own difficult combinations of sounds I have been using the ones Ron Burgundy does in the intro of Anchorman. To write your own tongue twister simply find two words that use the same sounds but in a different order and pronounce them in rapid concession. The Paedophile's Feeder Pile or Scooter racers' re-route skaters through suitcases.
The following day, Tuesday (last night) I attended Ride Cafe's open mic in Plymouth. I found a tough crowd consisting mainly of young university students. A lot of ambient noise and a lack of audience etiquette. Very different to the previous evening. But by exaggerating my performance and really throwing my voice around the room I was able to overcome the ignorant mass and gain the support of a hardcore niche of people who were paying attention to the performers on stage. I think my humiliation of a heckler earned me some respect too. The host, Joe, seemed embarrassed of the audience and congratulated and apologised in equal measure, actually taking the defensive move to call the audience a "bunch of pussies" on the mic immediately after my set, which I found highly flattering and amusing.
It was a unique, adrenaline pumped experience for me which resulted in more post-performance hand-shakes than any previous reading. I would recommend every performer try playing to a crowd like this at least once, even as a conditioning exercise. It's the straight-out-of-college-uni-student mentality and is probably one of the hardest social barriers anyone could attempt to battle.
So with a sore throat flagging up the first signs of a cold virus and two new business cards to add to my address book I can look back on these past 72 hours and smile at the memories of two very different open mic experiences.