Last Night at Anchor Bar

My friend Paul Hines runs an open mic at the Anchor Bar in Costa Mesa on Monday nights. I’ve been going when I can since he started it. In the early weeks, it was largely a musical open mic with a couple of comedians mixed in. In the past month or so, the comedians have been showing up in droves. Last night there were 15 comedians and 5 musicians.

It’s a weird mix to jump from comedians who are, you know, trying to make us laugh (generally) to singer-songwriters who are singing songs about heartbreak (generally). I tried to split the difference and played Maureen but my voice cracked in it and I missed all kinds of notes. So I hated that.

It’s interesting to observe comics at an open mic. I don’t know what an all comedy open mic is like so I don’t know if the Anchor Bar is “normal” but there are definitely more misses than hits. Comedy is different from music. You can’t sit at home and practice comedy. It really gets defined only in front of other people. So misses should outnumber the hits in the early stages.

But one thing that really came across to me last night was that the only comic I enjoyed, a girl named Emily, made her 5 minute set enjoyable by not stopping. Everyone else’s set was punctuated by ellipses. Just long… awkward pauses. Not hers. One bit she had would have fallen flat but she didn’t even stop long enough to let that happen. She just picked it up and went into another bit. That energy was undeniable. I was so impressed, I felt obliged to tell her she was great before I snuck out of there. In my awkward…compliment of her set, I didn’t even grab her last name. Just gave her my website address and bolted.

I saw Briana Harley again. I met her last year at the SoCal Live Music Awards thing and was impressed with her then. She was really great last night. She has a tremendous voice and the original she played was clever and melodic and unique. Check her out.

Anyway, I hope the hosts, Paul and Evan, find a better way to arrange the comedy and music. I think it could work out into a cool show every Monday but going abruptly from comic to musician is an awkward shift in gears.