Stepping Down

Last week I announced officially that I will no longer be hosting Comedy at the Mezz.

One of the cool things about my birthday on Tuesday was hosting Comedy at the Mezz but one of the sad things is that it would be the last time I’d get to host Comedy at the Mezz. Due to my schedule next semester I won’t be able to keep it going but luckily someone else has interest in that weird funny show and doesn’t want it to end anytime soon. So today I’d like to announce that Ember Ollom will be the new host of Comedy at the Mezz starting in the fall of 2015. I think she’ll do a great job at making the show fun and inviting to anyone who wants to laugh and enjoy a Tuesday night. Honestly I can’t think of a better replacement and I wish her luck and give her all the support I can and you should too by coming out to her new show next fall!

I know to an outsider it may just seem like another Tuesday open-mic but let me bring you to my point of view so you can understand what was unique about this show and why you should check it out in the fall.

A week before I hosted the first Comedy at the Mezz I went to an open-mic at a Sushi restaurant and had the worst bomb ever, it was so bad that it may have had a hand in the restaurant closing down later. I felt shittier than I ever felt yet I was scheduled to start hosting an open-mic next week. I honestly only went through with it because I already committed myself to and because I was at a place where I felt like I had nothing else left to loose. That bomb shattered any illusion I had left that I was any good at comedy or that I could put on a good show so I felt that hosting this open-mic might be the way for me to try and learn how to be a good comedian.

The first few weeks only two-three comics showed up, partly because of my reputation I’m sure, but also partly because Capital is relatively out of the way from the other mics. I knew I had to change something because so far it wasn’t looking like to be a show if it was just me. Plus I wanted to give people stage time wether they were new or veterans I wanted to give people a stage to try out anything and be comfortable doing it. So I started asking people to show up, I called it ten minute headline spots which got comics to show but there was still a lack of paying attention issue with the crowd that has always been a struggle at the Mezz. I wanted comics and the crowd at the Mezz to interact and laugh together so I thought of the panel which would have the headline comedians answering random questions to the audience. The first night that I started doing that is when I met Ember Ollom. She and a few other students decided to sit down closer and watch and I could tell by the way they were laughing and how they engaged with the comedians that I found the right mix to call Comedy at the Mezz a show.

Of course I still experimented with other things such as free raffle prizes which I got from the generosity of local businesses, I gave extra tickets to people who sat closer to the stage, and it worked temporarily. I noticed that it brought people who only were paying attention to winning stuff and not the kind of audience members that the Mezz was already generating. Now were there ever any large crowds? No they were usually really small but I kept hoping that someone would try to do stand-up and then a domino effect of more and more students would come forth. I also thought that eventually the Mezz would gain bigger crowds and be respected as a show that should be watched or at least worthy enough to not talk over. However neither of those things happened.

Although over the course of two years I noticed a few special things about the Mezz. It did have a pull that made some students want to sit down and watch but for some reason it always had a bigger pull on comics to sit down and watch too instead of going outside to smoke and talk like at most open-mics. The Mezz was one of the few rooms where comedians tried really new and unique things, some stories or bits told at the Mezz I still haven’t seen anywhere else. It took me awhile to realize that although the Mezz was always kind of a dud on big crowds or attentive crowds it made comics feel closer and safer with each other. I don’t know why, I don’t know if it was because of me or if it is just the side effect from being in that room. Despite not being very successful at running a hot open-mic I did inspire a few students to push themselves and speak out about their lives, one of them is Dani Perkins who I’m still proud of and think is one of the funniest students I ever met on Capital. She’s made more people laugh on stage than most students get to make people laugh in their entire lives. I hope other students will follow her lead since she is more relatable and much more down to earth than I am.

I’ve known Ember the longest and perhaps better than anyone except for her boyfriend and I do know that all of her talents, enthusiasm, and love for the Mezz will make it grow larger than I ever could. Although I think the Mezz has helped me grow so much from hosting it every week for the past two years. Getting students to try stand-up for the first time on my stage, welcoming out of town comedians to perform, and seeing some of the most sensitive and neurotic comics want to come to the Mezz has made me feel like I accomplished what I first set out to do. To make people feel comfortable and welcome, which was during a time in Columbus where that was hard to find. Although now Columbus is at a great point where most open-mics are welcoming now so that purpose is there but it needs a new one to keep growing and to be honest I’m not sure what that purpose is or how to achieve it, but I know Ember does and that’s why I’m giving her the open-mic I started from scratch because I know it’s going to be awesome. So be sure to check her out at Comedy at the Mezz next Fall!