You’re performing at an open mic and running through your jokes, but you decide to go off script. Maybe you lost your place, you were distracted, got brave and decided to try crowd work.
It happens, but if you decide to wing it, don’t do these things.
DON’T complain about the crowd not laughing. You tell a joke and there is silence. Just move on. Don’t say something like, “Hey that was funny. What’s wrong with you guys?” Think that’s going to make them laugh at your next joke?
Work on making sure you have jokes that people will laugh at. Leave the crowd alone while on stage. You can complain about the crowd being terrible off stage with the other comics like everyone else.
DON’T do crowd work that goes nowhere. If you ask the couple up in front how long they have been together, they say this is their first date, and you say, “Cool” and move on, that’s not crowd work. It’s just awkward. Leave the audience alone until you are ready with a funny response.
DON’t ask people to repeat what they said. You’re on stage and hear someone in the audience say something. Unless you asked the audience to respond, don’t ask the audience member to repeat what they said. Why would you do that? You don’t want them talking at all. Either ignore them or ask them to keep it down.
DON’T come unprepared. Open mics are a chance to work on your material. And stage time is precous. Have a plan, tell those jokes. Maybe improvise a bit. But don’t go up there trying to wing it off the top of your head, unless that’s your whole zany act.
Also, notes are frowned upon but sometimes necessary. But avoid reading your jokes off your phone while on stage. It just screams you weren’t ready. Don’t do it.
DON’T run the light. It’s bad enough when someone who is doing well goes over their time. But when someone is over their time and still struggling and trying again and again to maybe get a laugh, it’s torture. Cut your losses, get off stage and work on what you can improve next time.