Commentary

Granados: I’m finding the funny at open mic night

October 13, 2013 

I think I’m funny. My wife thinks I’m funny. I should do stand up. Those were the thoughts going through my head when I stepped on the stage at Tir Na Nog one recent Monday night.

It was Cure for the Mondays open mic night, when anyone could get up and practice his craft. Unfortunately for me, I was the only one who came without a craft to practice.

Not that I was terrible. I don’t think. Nobody booed. My wife laughed. I told a joke about picking up dog poop. I won’t go into it, but here’s the Cliffs Note: a misunderstanding about why human beings pick up after their dogs leads to the destruction of Earth.

Cure for the Mondays started more than two years ago. This past Monday was its two-year anniversary party. North Raleigh resident Mike Baldwin, or JM as he is known, created it. He got into comedy about three years ago. One day, he and a friend were walking by Tir Na Nog, the 16-year-old Irish pub on Blount Street in downtown Raleigh. Baldwin’s friend was taking photos of him, and the Tir Na Nog sign ended up in the shot, so Baldwin went inside to ask permission. In the course of the conversation, the bartender found out Baldwin did comedy. They talked about past attempts to do stand-up open mics at the bar. Baldwin suggested trying to revive the idea.

“That’s pretty much it,” Baldwin said. “It’s been on ever since.”

It’s expanded quite a bit. In addition to the open mic night, Cure for the Mondays holds other shows, including fundraisers, school supply drives, weddings, reunions ... all sorts of things. It’s become a genuine comedy collective. But for all the aspiring comics in the area, it’s something more. A place to get their shoes wet.

“The open mic has really become a chance for people to do things that they really can’t do anywhere else,” Baldwin said.

North Raleigh-based comic Brent Blakeney, 27, sure found it helpful. He wasn’t a newbie when he stepped on stage at Tir Na Nog a year ago. He’d been doing stand-up for about a year and a half at that point. But he appreciated Baldwin and what he had put together.

“You’re always working with some familiar faces, and you kind of grow together,” he said.

When he moved to Raleigh he knew that it was home to Goodnight’s Comedy Club, a comedy hotspot since it opened in 1983, but he didn’t know the extent of the stand-up scene. Baldwin helped him become part of the comedy community.

“I seriously think that often, if you’re not a local and you’re coming into the scene, it takes a while to develop a reputation before you’re in the inner circle, so to speak,” Blakeney said.

But that wasn’t the case here. Baldwin was supportive, accepting and helpful. And that’s the way his and his crew are to new comics, from what I’ve been told.

“That mentality he has really extends down into the shows he puts on,” Blakeney said.

And Baldwin is having fun. That was obvious to me when I showed up at Tir Na Nog a few weeks ago. He emcees the open mic, and he cracked jokes between the rest of the comics’ sets. He gave me a warm welcome and made me feel slightly less nervous. I’ll be honest, though. While I was waiting to go up, I thought I was going to throw up. I didn’t. And that’s something.

Baldwin has a day job working for a cellphone manufacturer. For now, comedy is a side gig. And he doesn’t know where it’s going, or if it is going anywhere.

“Honestly, I’ve never had a plan,” he said. “I just kind of go where it takes me. I’m enjoying just meeting people and making connections.”

If you want to try it out, check out the website: www.cureforthemondayscomedy.com. Or come out to Tir Na Nog at 8:30 p.m. Monday. I’m going to try again, but don’t let that dissuade you. Before and after my three minutes or so, there will be a lot of really funny people.

Alex Granados writes about people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him at agranadoster@gmail.com.

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