Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Open Mic Disasters #5: Reading and Running

"Thou shalt not attend an open mic and leave as soon as you've done your shitty little poem or song, you self righteous prick."

So says Scroobius Pip in his seminal track, Thou Shall Always Kill (although he also says "Thou shall always kill," which isn't necessarily the soundest advice).

Of course, most people who attend poetry open mics should agree with that. Shouldn’t they? Although, let's be honest, many people appear to think it's OK to rattle their way through their allocated slot and then mysteriously disappear. I'll admit to having "read and ran" myself a couple of times, although there's always been a valid reason - mainly to do with living so far away from the venue that the last train leaves ridiculously early. What Scroobius is quite rightly criticising is the hypocritical practise of performing at an open mic and simply not bothering to stick around to see the other performers.

The worst offenders are those who can't even be arsed to stay for the duration of the first half. On more than one occasion I've witnessed the hilarious sight of the first poet of the night stumbling through their carefully-crafted verse then vacating the premises before the polite applause has had a chance to die down. You get the impression they've got a helicopter waiting to whisk them off to their next open mic as part of a whistle stop tour of the "smaller, intimate venues". Or they could just be what's known on the poetry circuit as "wankers".

Equally bad are the poets who disappear midway through someone's set, taking their entourage (who on occasions make up three-quarters of the audience) with them.

Nonetheless, there's one practise that's even worse than reading and running. This is where the poet will perform what Scroobius Pip all-too-accurately describes as their "shitty little poem" before heading off to the bar and talking to their friends for the rest of the evening, distracting the audience and generally making themselves look like a tit.

If any of these people happen to be reading this, I'd just like to say, you are not the centre of the universe. If you're not interested in watching the other performers do their thing, regardless of whether or not you like them (or how highly you rate yourself in comparison) perhaps it would be better if you just left. Or even better, don't bother turning up at all.

Ah. Rant over. Good to get that off my chest. Peace and love to the rest of society.

Now, just for the hell of it, here's a link to the Scroobius Pip track …


  1. A righteous amen...

    I was once at an arts festival, as one of the opening acts; if I leave the details there it sounds a great deal grander than it was, so onwards: the very first thing to kickstart the festival was a noble panel discussion on the state of the arts. What a debate it was, a packed hall with passionate discussion with local councillors standing up and berating others about people in 'this town' not supporting the arts. After an hour or so of this the festival proper began. I stood up to begin...

    And everyone left. First out the door were the (Tory) councillors who were berating others for not patronising the arts. Irony it was. A successful gig it was not.

  2. A Tory saying one thing then doing another? Surely not!

    Just goes to show there's no such thing as a captive audience :)