I must’ve put my writings away in a “good place” because whenever I am rushing out to a reading that includes an open mic, I can’t find anything. I grabbed a short one and some notes in hopes of putting something together on the train.
I was running late for Viviana Grell’s STARK REALITY scheduled for 4pm at the Zinc Bar on West 3 Street in the Village. It happens on the first and third Saturday of every month. I arrived close to five o’clock. The bar seemed rather empty, but behind a curtain in the back was Viviana and her audience. Before heading back there, I ordered a wine.
Suddenly a comic I know — Craig Sharf — appeared from behind the curtain. He walked up to me, we hugged, and he asked what I was drinking. He treated me to my chardonnay. Nice beginning. He said he’d be right back. I went behind the curtain to join the audience and sign up for the open mic. I didn’t see Craig again.
One of the featured performers, Leigh Harrison, was playing guitar and singing. She mixed the set with songs and poems. Among her poems, she read “Love Descending,” and she sang “Shoofly Pie,” a song showing the different English that men and women use. He calls it “loving”…
Leigh finished off with “Crush on You,” a song from her second CD called Oh Wow. I liked her whole presentation including her red top and the big red heart she wore around her neck.
The other feature was a poet named Fred Vaughn. His material was personal and shared his relationship with a special man named Andre.
The open mic continued. A comic named Alison got up there. I do stand-up also, and I often feel comics and poets don’t mix well as a show. I find they often do not make a good audience for each other. Yet in the best scenario, both comics and poets could benefit from experiencing each other. Poets tend to be supportive of each other at readings. Comedy open mic’s are different. Viviana brings it all together at STARK REALITY. I thought Alison was funny. Another comic got up there. Then Viviana reminded everyone that she only has one rule and that is no talking when someone is behind the mic. She also shared that she’s in the process of legally changing her last name. She doesn’t want her ex-husband’s or her father’s last name. She is naming herself after the dancer Isadora Duncan and will be Viviana Duncan. Then she proceeded to dance to the lyrics “feel the heat.”
A man got up next and said he’s not really a comic, but that he has “conversations.” I have only heard a few people do that — speak and call that a conversation. When I do stand-up, I typically have a conversational style, but the conversations I have involve the thoughts, feelings, and words of another person also and take place off stage. Sometimes what makes me laugh is not the “joke” but how the person uses the same language I speak.
A singer got up and announced that he was inspired by all the “vagina talk.” He performed a song called, “When Push Comes to Shove.” I read two short poems — one shared a way I learn about a person, and the other was about a person who fell in love with me and why I didn’t fall back. Two women on vacation sat at my table. They were from Australia and had beautiful accents. One got up and did a rap. A poet who calls himself Rainmaker, for me, was the star of the open mic that day. He did a poem in the voice of America that made my mouth hang. It was what I’d love to see performed at educational programs and political events.
(c) 2012 Mindy Matijasevic