Category Archives: Open Mic Stories

Open Mic Stories – Do you beatbox? | Kevin Thomas Jr

Kevin Thomas Jr | Buffalo, NY Comedy | Open Mic Stories“Do you beatbox?”

Nothing about my four minutes on stage indicated that this is the question to lead with, but I’ve got to finish this drink, so let’s see where this goes.

“No. Why?”

“Just a vibe I got watching your performance.”

Could he ground his hypothesis in anything more ethereal? Then again, this dude is wearing several hemp necklaces. He may be doing the best he can with what he has: socially, mentally, hypothetically, realistically.
I’m being unfair. We all have flaws. By way of analogy, I’m the one you see rushing into the ocean as it recedes from the beach while the locals seek higher ground. It’s an imperfect comparison, though, because it’s not that I don’t know a tsunami is coming; I just think I can have a laugh before it gets here. It isn’t that a towering guy with dilated pupils and unrelenting eye contact doesn’t register as one of those “nod, smile, and walk away” situations. I just don’t think about that until I’m in way too deep.
“Your vibes are off, yo. I don’t beatbox,” I say.
“I like what you did up there. I like what everyone is doing up there tonight. The energy in this room tonight- I just feel it and absorb it and internalize it and now I want to give it back, you know? I’m a rapper and I’m a part of this whole collective with rappers and graffiti artists and DJ’s and beatboxers and skaters and ventriloquists…”
Yikes. This has gone off the rails. Did he just say he’s a rapper? I’ve got to ask a probing question.
“Oh, word?”
“Yeah, bro! That’s why I thought I heard something in your voice. Something about your voice and how you were telling jokes. You got a flow with your words, so I thought you might beatbox.”
Sound reasoning, but if you want to keep talking, I need to start talking mad shit to make this worth it: “Listen, I’m glad my aura is so steeped in rap music that you came to that conclusion, but enough with the beatboxing. Why would anyone beatbox? It’s so uninteresting. I think they left it off the list of four elements to Hip-hop just so people would stop doing it.”
Kind of mean, but I’m testing mettle. His and mine, I guess.
“Oh, no, it’s cool, bro. I just was trying to connect with you because the audience and the comedy and the vibes and the other pseudoscience, new age buzz words; and I think I’ll throw in another ‘beatbox’ for good measure…”
“You look high as hell, dawg. What are you on?”
“I’m OFF fluoride.”
“Yeah, bro, fluoride free for four years. My consciousness is clearer now.”
“What water do you drink?”
“Some bottled water doesn’t have fluoride added.”
“What about toothpaste?”
“I use this special toothpaste from China.”
“Oh, so you’re fluoride free but not necessarily lead free? This is all starting to make sense.”
This is the point where my resolve breaks. I’m all about shitting on people who are in command of their faculties, but this deer-in-headlights, thousand-yard-ish stare, possibly lead poisoned hippie is where I draw the line. His staunch sincerity and lack of response to my ribbing doesn’t make me feel good.
“Cool, yo. I’ll, uh, I’ll check you later.”
The only thing that can prolong this is if he starts to…
“May I rap for you?”
“Every excellent rap I’ve ever heard began with a polite inquiry, so yes.”
He raps, but what I hear is stream of consciousness rambling containing the various joke premises and punchlines he could recall from the comics on stage earlier in the night. It could have been a beautiful collage of one night of Buffalo comedy at Milkie’s had he any sense of what words rhyme with other words or how rap works in general.
“…….. And… I’m… going to use the n-word/ but won’t because it’s offensive and that’s right/ unless that word is nnnnneeext….level… conscious rap!”
“I, uh… I like how you strung together ideas from, uh… different sets.”
“I’m humbled. Great connecting with you.” He puts his hands together and slightly bows. “Peace, man.”

– Kevin Thomas Jr

* Kevin is a local Buffalo Comedian, Regular contributor on PFF and co-host of “Another Podcast…

Open Mic Stories – Kevin Thomas Jr.

I am certain that I’ll look back at this post with regret because who cares about the seriousness of a guy only a year in? With that, allow me to provide my future self with context:
While minding your own business one day, you were asked by Don Johnson to write about your first time on stage. Nobody knows or cares what really happened, so whatever you said will be it.
[Future response: Don’t you mean Kaitlyn Johnson?]
The week before going up, I did some reconnaissance by checking out Helium alone. Going up, I guess, was contingent upon the vibe at this one open mic. I saw some people do well and some people die miserably—regular open mic shit. Truthfully, the bombing inspired me. Not even on some “I can do it better.” It was more primitive than that. I was thinking, “This guy isn’t afraid, but I am?” It didn’t help matters that there was a drunk heckler in the crowd. One comic nervously ignored her. Another comic went way too vulgar with his response. The host came in and handled her with ease. Then he said something like, “You have to shut up. You can try that shit on me because I’ve been doing this for years, but some of these guys are newer, so let them do their thing.” I’m sitting there thinking, “Let me at her!” (In retrospect, those lights are pretty bright up there. There’s really no sense in trying to outwit a person you can’t see. If the internet has taught me anything it’s that the person with more anonymity usually wins. So, apologies to the nervous guy and kudos to the comic who was confident enough to sexually threaten a person he couldn’t see).
Like I said, specifics are lost; but I think my first time on stage took place the following week. I didn’t tell a soul. My wife knew I was checking out the open mic, but I didn’t tell her I was signing up. No other family or friends knew. What possess any of you to go full-Dietsch™ like that is beyond me. I don’t recall the set, really. I don’t have the set list or remember what was up with the audience that night. I know my first joke was a jab at improv comedy. Wasn’t concerned with making any powerful enemies, I guess. I didn’t run the light, which was dope. I wasn’t brought to the stage with, “It’s this guy’s first time” which was cool. It went well enough to want to return. Billy Whalen liked one of my jokes—admittedly much more of a meaningful compliment then than now. Ryan Henry hadn’t started, yet. It was a good time.
Trying comedy was really a fulfillment of a childhood ambition to do stand-up, but there is additional significance to the late timing. My son was due, and I got the idea in my head to try something I was afraid of before he was born. That’s how I cope with life changes, I guess: straight into an avoidable fire. I’m sure his therapist will be reading this in the future in order to assign him some sort of -osis, or find the origin of some -phobia or -ism. There’s your problem right there, Mr. Thomas, your father, for some reason, thought it prudent to associate you with weekly public humiliation, anxiety, and cheap beers.


– Kevin Thomas Jr

Buffalo Comedy Open Mic Stories – Bob Reinard

George Carlin was always a prominent voice in my household growing up. Comedy was always one of my favorite things to watch. Even as a kid, I loved stand up. I wasn’t supposed to live to see 18, and had obstacle after obstacle in my way, which I crushed. Obstacles make for a good story, and should stock pile me with a lot of great stories.
When I got into stand up, it was purely because of peer-pressure. I was a regular contributor on The Shredd And Ragen Show, and had a fun time doing it. I started talking to (Josh) Potter about maybe trying stand up about 7 or 8 years before I actually went on a stage or touched a mic, and he’d tell me the nights when the mics were on (mind you 8 years ago helium wasn’t here, the only open mics were at Merge and Nietzsches). So, I toyed with the idea for 8… EIGHT FUCKING YEARS!! Until I went to a show at Goodbar that had Josh, Mark Walton, Jameel Key and Keith Fucking Buckley (I think that’s his middle name) and I saw Keith pretty much be the most uncomfortable on stage as I’ve ever seen him. I am an avid Every Time I Die fan so, to see him out of his element was kind of shocking to me. After watching that, I pretty much said to myself “I should at least try”.
At this time Helium had been here for a year or two, and I had been frequently going to shows almost every weekend just to see the comics in town. I went to see Doug Benson and the show was everything I expected and more. I got out of the show and saw he was doing a meet and greet (FUCK YES!) so I got in line waited, and when it was my turn to meet Doug I took a picture with him and asked him why he got into stand up because I wanted to try it. I needed to know why he got into it so I can validate my reasons on trying stand up. He said “I did it on a dare and now I have a career…no complaints.” Obviously, not the answer I was looking for but, it was an answer, and it was a Doug type answer. Two weeks later Kyle Kinane was in town. I fucking loved Kyle Kinane since the first time I heard the bit about his friend Greg and “no one goes to space camp all the time” bit. I was fucking hooked, so of course I went. By this time, the Helium staff kinda knew me as a regular and sat me right next to the ramp on stage. I was so fucking happy and excited. Kyle killed (of course), and he did a meet and greet afterwords. So, I sat in line, and when it was my time to meet him, I took a pic, and didn’t have the opportunity to ask him why he got into stand up. It was hectic as fuck for some reason. Super cool dude though, I have nothing but nice things to say about Mr. Kinane.
I started writing little one line shitty, shitty, jokes. I started signing up weekly at Helium, getting turned down for a solid month. Then, I finally got the email about me being on the next open mic. I found out how much time I was doing, and I questioned everything I wrote up to that point. I remember the date of my first mic (3-5-14). I remember the day, I was at my grandmothers visiting, and writing my shitty, shitty, jokes I thought were funny (Keep in mind it was Ash Wednesday, this is important). I conned a few friends to come to the show. I get to the show, and find the EmCee, Jimi Pidd, and he tells me when I’m going up, and hands me a lineup list just in case I forget. Now from this point on is all hearsay. To say that I didn’t get blackout drunk would be telling you a lie. All I remember is snippets from my set, so bare with me I asked Pookie Long John for some advice which was “don’t get too drunk” (obviously didn’t heed his advice, being already too drunk to be on a stage.). I walked into the green room. I think it was me, Jimi, and ….Liam in the room. Jimi goes on stage and brings me up. I was sooo excited to say my opener which was “Happy Ash Wednesday, anyone get ashy?!” Then the rest is a blur until I see Jimi pounding on the stage to get my attention. I blew the light unintentionally. Jimi walks up to me tells me “You did good” which I’m sure was bullshit.

Bob Reinard