Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review of the Save More Lounge Open Mic: By Ruth Ruhnke

Ruth Ruhnke
(Editors Note: Unfortunatly, this open mic is no more and did not last very long frankly... But it does makes some great points about the struggle for adequate stage time in the Chicago comedy scene, especially for suburban comics who may be traveling long distances... So for those reasons we think it's still relevant and will keep it online... enjoy!)

There is a new open mic in town located at 4060 N Lincoln next door to the Lincoln restaurant in Chicago, IL.  Every Thursday night sign up at 8:30, Don Kotz hosts.  My advise is to go check this room out for yourself because it's worth it for several reasons ... ample stage time and the performers get paid.  Whoa, What?  Wait ... WHAT?  Yes, I said it PAID!  All of the performers for Thursdays show at Savemore were paid in tips which were given by the audience and believe me we who travel from out of town are very grateful for this.

Sometimes comedians who travel from far away may feel out of touch with the Chicago scene or out of place and feel as though they need to 'kiss bootie' in order to 'fit in' to one of the already established cliques.  Save More Lounge has a down to earth dive bar atmosphere that is warm and inviting to anyone and everyone no matter who they pal around with in Chicago.  Cliques and who's who in Comedy shows can really get in the way of anyone who is serious and wants to progress and develop an act.  If a comic comes in from more than an hour away it's nice to know what Mics offer the most stage time, are the most fun AND also have the most reasonable drink prices or better yet ... pay the entertainment to perform.
Save More Lounge is going in the direction of paid shows which is great and it is always nice to have a real audience of people who are hungry for a laugh.  There may be contests with cash prizes ... you may get a free drink ... you may be spoiled rotten and be ruined forever on all other mics.  Savemore Lounge is humble, inviting and a place you can really sink your teeth into finding your comedic voice.  If I were to pick ONE night and ONE place to come down from anywhere in the US to perform I would chose the little bar next to the Gigantic Lincoln head across from CVS Pharmacy.  I was on stage for over 15 minutes and it was exhilarating ... amazing ... wonderful and a home away from home.  There are a handful of other mics I feel this way about and I am glad to have found a new one.

When I talk to friends from out of town and faraway places such as Canada, Miami or Pennsylvania I can honestly say I have a clear grasp of where to go and perhaps where to avoid.  I don't know any 'bad' mics in Chicago ... but there are places I avoid and I will tell you why.  If stage time amounts to 4 minutes or less ... if there are 50 comics in the room and no audience ... if there is very poor sound quality ... if there is no parking ... if the staff is rude and the drinks overpriced ... if the only way to get respected is to kiss someones butt ... if the emcee gives you the light in the middle of a joke and is rude to the performers ... the key to hosting any open mic is patience.  I drive over 2 hours to Chicago and I just can't afford to get only 4 minutes of stage time, in 2006 I could get away with that but not so much anymore. 

Of course when there are 50 comics hungry for stage time it's going to be competitive and you can't just let anyone just ramble on incoherently forever with no punchline can you?  No ... and that's what the light it for ... but if you are working on developing new material you need to BREATH on stage and know that you are not going to be chased off by some 22 year old punk with a light.  So where do you go when you are ready to do more than a four minute set?  Save More and there are several other places off the map I would HIGHLY recommend.  In order to grow your act and build on your set and develop your material at some point you need more than 4 minutes of stage time and it is essential you find a place that you feel comfortable.  I have a few places and Savemore is one more added to my list of top notch highest quality rooms.  This was one of the BEST open mic experiences I have had to date.  There are other amazing mics out there, but this room is worth your time to check out.

What else can I say about Save More Lounge?  If you take a notice at the walls there are very beautiful works of Fine Art for sale by Artist Denise Barba.  These pieces are prints on reclaimed wood and it's worth stopping into Savmore to take a peek at these.  They are very nice.  Titles of these works of Art include "Turtle", "Forever Rosy", "Zebra", "Peacock" and several others.

Contributing Writer
Ruth Ruhnke