When open mics are Your Thing, you develop opinions. And after hitting events in 21 states (and the District of Columbia) and ~30 cities, my opinion is that the most important element of an open mic is its host.
- A good host can set up both quivering novice and slam champion for success. A bad host makes it all about him/herself.
- A good host keeps the energy going between performances. A bad host can make things so awkward half the people forget to say their own names.
- A good host can make up for a less than ideal venue, a smaller-than-hoped-for crowd, a thin list, a passing train, a fistfight, and any of the thousand thousand weird things that can happen when you open the doors of a coffee shop/bar/pizza joint/library/bookstore/art gallery and offer a microphone to strangers.
But what’s it like on that side of the mic?
To learn more about what it means, exactly, to be a good host, a smart poet (and open mic organizer) would talk to a few. And since I happen to know a handful with years of experience running incredible events at a variety of venues, well…
If nothing else, it seemed like a great way to reconnect with a few of the best hosts I’ve seen on my quest so far.
I prevailed on each to cover the basics, etiquette peeves, host tricks, and wish lists. Some shared videos and poems, and all of them offered some great insights for the practicing or aspiring open mic hosts among us.
So lean in, friends. Because things got interesting…