Pro: Most comedy variety open mics are in not in bars so if you're a comedian under 21, places like the Celtic Knot and Kafein in Evanston and the Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park (yeah, the place where Hannibal Buress started out) are the places for you.
Con: The regular comedians in the scene usually aren't at the variety open mics and the time you put into the variety open mics won't get you much credit on the main line of the comedy scene. While variety open mics won't give you much visibility with the comedians/producers on the main scene, they won't hurt your reputation either so go do them.
Pro: Poets and musicians are easier to make laugh than other comedians.
Con: Poets and musicians tend to be easily offended.
Con: If comedians crowded the variety open mics the way we crowd the comedy only open mics, it would become an all comedian open mic, the musicians and poets would be scarce and the hypothetical variety open mic would cease to have variety and faceless comedians like myself wouldn't have the above pro.
I could go on for hours but I have a bus to catch. What I'm saying is that variety open mics are good. On some nights they're amazing, other nights not so much. The Celtic Knot and Kafein usually give you 15 minutes. If you do well at the Heartland, THEY WILL NOTICE. And they'll keep you in mind to book you on a feature slot, which is a 30 minute set. Sure keep attending comedy only open mics on a regular basis... But every now and then if you know of a variety open mic... Do it.
Contributing writer Mark Glatt - Comedian musician and producer.