“The Perfect Open Mic,” by Casey “Rocket” Rohlen

Dec 4th, 2019 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Open mics are to self-help what Columbine was to school spirit: A step in the wrong direction.

Big laugh. Meta as hell. Enough time has passed to where it works. Crowd loves it. They carry me out of there like Rudy.

As a five-year comic, I understand a thing or two about the nuances of a good open mic. This is the part where I ask 20-year comics not to beat the fuck out of me with weaponized mic-stands for saying that I understand the comedic process. 20-year comics travel around in gangs like The Warriors, right? With boomerangs made of free drink tokens in one hand and pirate’s swords made of paperback copies of their self-published books about crowd work in the other? I can’t wait to fuckin’ straight up OWN a studio apartment and downright NOT have a wife, dude. Lord above, I can’t wait. All-in-all, I’ve traversed about 1500 of these sultry sultry open mic performances over the years — from coffee shops to pool halls to sidewalks — and somewhere along the way I’ve begun to see the beauty (and unadulterated terror) of a good open mic. There’s comfort in the macabre. Comfort in the pain of exposing your act to a room full of people who flat out aren’t ready for your tight five-minute exposé on Dog The Bounty Hunter’s wife secretly being Grimace (and as a result, the country truly losing an age-old icon instead of a rock-chested bigot).


I digress.

Yet, at the end of the day, there’s the ultimate comfort of knowing that you’ll always have the open mic staples by your side: The one tattered alcoholic sitting at the bar in a Reba McEntire shirt who half-heartedly watches you ramble on with a new bit about Verne Troyer’s heroism to a packed room of empty chairs. The panic of seeing all your friends slowly step outside for a smoke to avoid eye contact with your blatant pain. The next show, you do the same to them in some sort of cycle of self-hatred. Only laughs can mend the pain and only laughs escape you. And my personal favorite, that shrill moment of realization where you finally have the heart to admit to yourself on stage, “Oh, wait, that courtesy laugh in the beginning is not coming back to pay daddy a visit”.

As such, daddy waits, carefully biding his time with wordplay and carefully placed pauses. The laugh never returns to dear old daddy. In the distance, momma cries. Daddy dies. Broken heart. Repost this 15 times to the friends you care about the most or the GHOST of DADDY will appear BY your BEDSIDE… TONIGHT!

I digress.

Over the years I’ve slowly come to realize what my perfect open mic looks like. It is as follows:

You show up three hours early just pistol-ripped on bottom shelf gin. You’re not some snob, you start your night with Beefeater Gin, the champagne of Fentanyl. You sit there and absolutely crank out awful premises for hours-on-end in a joke book that you plan on leaving on the hood of a taxi later that night. It comes time to sign up and, whoopsie daisy, you’re the only name on the list besides one “Edward Nygma.” Wait, could it be? As luck would have it, you’re first on the list as the show begins and right as you’re about to walk on stage you bump shoulders with a green-clad gentlemen. Sure enough.. it’s the fucking Riddler, dude. You try to explain to him just how much you loved him when he played Jim Carrey and you frantically ask him why he chose to do the midnight open mic at a Thai food restaurant. He takes you by the shoulder and buzzes you with a buzzer super hard, like way too hard for it to be a prank for most people, and you laugh super hard like that scene in Pretty Woman because he’s impressed you.

He looks you in the eyes through his dumbass purple mask and says, “Son, the likes of mics cannot be dismissed.. Because tonight the show is to watch you get pissed. The movie Fargo has not aged well, my little cowbell.” Then you straight up piss your pants fully. Somehow he caused this. Honestly, no clue how. He says he was just kidding but he literally just made you piss your pants so that’s not a joke that can easily be brushed off. Also, the part about Fargo seems straight up unrelated. That cowbell thing seemed racist somehow as well. So you have piss pants or whatever and you go up to do your set. It’s a blessing and a curse that he’s the only one there, on account of the pee stockings you’re now parading around as pants.

You do an hour and a half set to fill time and he doesn’t fucking laugh once. At one point he slurps his Beefeater Gin really loud to let the bartender know he needs another one which is pretty fucked up too. After you get off stage, he says he likes your style and wants to let you be his riddle partner. You can smell the gin on his breath. Y’all get in his Riddler Toyota out back and you really feel like he shouldn’t be driving. Fuck, is something going on at home with The Riddler? He assures you he’s fine and buzzes you on the arm again with his tricky toy and this time you keep a straight face to show him you’re brave. He’s floored. He takes off and gets pulled over and gets a DUI and gets sentenced to a treatment facility and you guys still keep in touch. You get a comedy scholarship to Duke University the next day. You pack your bags and ship off.

Yep, that’s what open mics should be like. All that stuff. Just Beefeaters and Riddlers mostly.


Casey “Rocket” Rohlen is a heavily-disputed burgeoning standup comedian in the Boise and Atlanta areas, but his grandma calls him Tittie Boi. When he’s not toying with hyphens on Microsoft Word, he divides his time between reading about the macabre and dealing with his recent diagnosis of Josh Peck Pecks Syndrome (JPPS).

You can follow him on Instagram @caseyrocket or Twitter @MCdooglebear and find his shoddily made podcast “The Grimace Half-Hour Power Hour” on iTunes.

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