FRIDAY, Oct. 2 — The COVID-19 outbreak put Lansing’s stand-up comedy scene on hold. Both of the city’s prominent open mic’s — Mac’s and Crunchy’s — went on hiatus. Local comedian Ashley Stommen is trying to bring laughter back to Lansing with a new open mic starting this Sunday at Ellison Brewery.
“I have already had a lot of people request a spot,” said Stommen. “People I’ve never met before. I think some people started to get into comedy during quarantine.”
It makes sense. With nothing but time on their hands and a government order to stay inside as often as possible, many people picked up new hobbies. Stommen said that she just hopes that no one gets up on stage and starts ranting or making a scene.
“That’s kind of the risk you take when it comes to stand up comedy,” laughed Stommen.
The format of the open mic is “show up, go up.” That means that anyone can show up and ask for time onstage. Once the show has enough comics to fill up two hours, sign-up is over. But if you miss your chance to get on the lineup, there’s always next time.
“I try to be supportive because it was hard for me when I first started doing comedy,” said Stommen. The show up, go up format allows new comics to get onstage and try out their comedic skills in a low-pressure setting.
Not all of the comics at Ellison will be newcomers, though. Stommen has already gotten messages from seasoned comics all over the state asking if they can come perform. Audience members can also expect to see some of the local comedians that regularly took the stage at Mac’s and Crunchy’s before the pandemic hit.
Out of town comics should message Stommen before the show if they want her to save a spot for them, or else show up early.
It seems as though the Lansing community is hungry for comedy. Stommen said that the Facebook event for the open mic has already received around a hundred responses.
Ellison has been working on extending its patio and adding a heating system, so it can continue to utilize outdoor seating as temperatures start to fall. For thirsty comedy fans, Ellison will be offering its locally-made craft beer and cocktails.
“They’re just a really awesome brewery,” said Stommen. “I love the crew, everybody there. They’re just really good people.”
The show will occur biweekly starting this Sunday. It starts at 6 p.m. and runs until 8. Stommen set it up that way because Ellison closes at 9. That gives comics and audience members a chance to finish their drinks and chat before the brewery shuts down for the night.
“I try to think about the staff a lot,” said Stommen. “I’ve worked in bars. I don’t want them to have to say, ‘Get out! We want to go home!’”
Free Comedy Open Mic at Ellison
Every other Sunday starting October 4
6 to 8 p.m.
Ellison Brewery and Spirits
4903 Dawn Ave., East Lansing