The Dangers Of Using A Pen

May 24, 2013


Guys, stand up comedy is hard. You’re not gonna make it if you don’t push yourself and try over and over again. Sometimes you have to wait on long lines, sit through bad comics and listen to horrible shitty hosts, but it’s all worth it once you get on stage and perform your 5 minutes. Well, last night, after waiting 5 hours to perform at an open mic, I was excluded from the list, by the host, because I USED HIS PEN. Yes, that is correct, I USED HIS PEN to sign up for the open mic- and because of that- I was not allowed to perform. And when I refused to leave, after waiting 5 hours, he called over the bouncer to escort me out. FYI- there is something scary about a big black dude calling over an even bigger black dude to look down at you and say, “We got a problem?”

Let’s back up, I moved to SF two weeks ago from NYC. I thought an open mic would be a great way to jump in to the comedy scene. I showed up around 5pm, and got on line. When it was my turn to sign up, I grabbed the clip board, and used the pen (attached to the clipboard) to sign up. I wrote my name and immediately the guy circulating the clip board blew up. That guy (who turned out to be the host) said, “WHAAT! OH NO! NOT TODAY! I’M NOT DOING THIS! NOT YOU! YOU USED MY PEN! NOT NOW!” And walked away. Me, being new, didn’t know if this guy was crazy, joking or SUPER crazy. I figured, using his pen, (which wasn’t even a fountain- it was a BIC!) was a small offense.

At 10:30, when my name was skipped over, I was convinced that it must’ve been a mistake. How could our lovely host, who has been running this open mic for 14 years, leave me out? He had taken up plenty of my time with his jokes about licking tits, his crowd work, which consisted of harassing the half dozen women in the room and his full on description of how he’d like to bend over a woman in the audience and give her what he’s got. I get it, you deserve the time, you need it. But to refuse a comedian the 5 minutes he’s been waiting 5 hours for, is cruel. You’re hurting yourself, the SF comedy scene and the experience of a comedy lover.

When I approached the host and asked him very kindly why it was inappropriate that I used his pen, he vigorously shook his head and grunted, “NOT TODAY!” When I sincerely told him, “I’m new to the scene, I had no idea about the pen rule, I actually brought a pen, many pens!”- he threw his hands up and under his breath said, “Don’t challenge me.” When the bouncer was called over and angrily insisted I leave, there was a thought in my head to make a scene. To scream, “YES TODAY!”, grab the mic and attempt to do my set, but I didn’t…I left.

If this taught me anything, it’s don’t give up on comedy. I definitely won’t. This was a rocky introduction to a new scene, but it’s a valuable one. Some people love their pens.


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