(Sopan Deb’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/17; via Pam Green.)

It takes a special kind of masochist to willingly endure the horrors of performing stand-up at New York City open mikes. And yet, because it is New York City, it isn’t surprising that there is no shortage of exactly this type of person: someone with a high tolerance for awkwardness, embarrassment and insecurity, combined with a tenacious craving to make people laugh and hopefully, if the chips fall exactly right, to do this for a living.

On any given night, there are dozens of open mikes in the five boroughs. They are often in basements and back rooms, tucked out of sight, and there is no compensation. Many times, the comics — most of them male — must pay a small price to get a few minutes — “a tight five.”

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