Happy New Year Funny People! Let's get to work! Help each other.
Fear is for the ill prepared. Nothing diminishes fear like positive experience. A constant reinforcement of positive experience is fertile ground for amazing confidence and courage, both sorely needed in stand up comedy artists.
For this reason I can't understand comics that spend so much time at pointless and lifeless open mics where there is no audience other than the bitter posse of jaded comics (only a year or less in -ha!) usually at the back of the room and leaning on the bar. Which would be OK, but most of them aren't even listening to the act on stage. They're all engrossed in the weeks latest gossip...inside voices at least please!! There is very little to no way an act can develop all there is to develop in stand up comedy in such an environment. Comedy is FULL of nuances that one must understand... and it takes time...you will never get them down in poorly run unattended open mic nights. Never.
That's why an audience is so important. Better yet learning to be a good audience member is just as important in comedy. Comics who listen, laugh and help each other will accelerate each others act to an amazing level. Knowing this and more importantly having experienced this all over the country, my vote would be for open mics to be policed by the best security a comedy night could have, comedians. Don't be afraid to ask an unruly comic to quiet down, don't talk to his/her friends during the show, or ask them to please go outside to make a call. Lead by example and watch other acts. Get involved. Laugh at some of their stuff that is funny and original and when you can, slip them some tags or some advice notes after their show....would it kill ya?? ;)
An open mic is really a great place to workshop so don't waste your time at ones that are a drain on your creative energy. Comedy is all about energy and forward motion, so when you discover an open mic that is stymied and is unwilling to cooperate with a positive flow, just go. Leave it to the posers that don't have a clue they're wasting their time...and unfortunately others.
The resurgence of stand up comedy must be attended to by artists that are obsessed with the positive and will accept nothing less than a great effort to build and expand. At least give it your best or go home, either way you'll be doing your comedy a favor. ;)