Let me start by introducing myself: Hi, my name is Vaiden Jones and I’m a comic from Birmingham, AL. I’m basically just a “kind of funny” guy, living in the Magic City. Which bring me to why I’m here, and why you’re reading this. Birmingham has an incredible, almost hidden comedy scene and, I want to tell you all about it and my experiences.
People ask me all the time how I got started, how I write jokes, and just what it takes to be a comedian in general. Being a comedian is a lot easier than you’d think. Being a good comedian is hard. Some comics have writing formulas and techniques that work well for them and some are just naturally funny. I don’t know where I fit between those two, but in my experience there are just a couple of things you have to do to be a stand-up comedian. First of all, you don’t really even have to be funny. Everyone is different, and what others find funny or entertaining, varies from person to person. All you really need is a mic, stage time, and a hefty set of balls. After that, it’s all about figuring out what works for you.
I first started doing comedy about a year and a half ago, I think it was August of 2015. At the time, I was playing bass for a band called Branded X, but I just wasn’t happy with it. It just wasn’t fun anymore, but I still needed an outlet to express myself, and didn’t know where, or what, that would be. I was in a dark place. Then I found the Goulash Open Mic comedy night, at Syndicate Lounge, hosted by Chris Ivey, and I began my adventures in comedy. It was my first time to perform, so naturally I was given the last slot of the night when the crowd has dwindled down to not much more than the host, the bartender, and maybe 3 other people. That was probably for the best. My closing joke was a detailed story about trying to commit suicide with a pink knife that went much longer than it should have. When I left the stage, Chris Ivey thanked everyone for coming out to the Goulash murder/suicide comedy night, and I’ll never forget that awesome feeling. I was on top of the world. I had to keep doing it. This was what I had been looking for.
Most people immediately think of the Comedy Club Stardome, located in Hoover, when they think about Birmingham comedy, and for good reason. It is the premiere comedy venue in town, and has been instrumental in launching the careers for many current headlining comedians like Steve Harvey and Kevin Hart. It is also a hotspot for local up-and-coming comics, and hosts, some of the best working comedians in the country. That being said, The Stardome is just the name brand version of Birmingham comedy. This city is rich in a variety of very unique talent, and there have been several venues to host open mic nights and comedy shows that many people never knew existed. Stardome does host an open mic competition that can lead to huge opportunities, but they aren’t the only act in town.
As I mentioned before, the Goulash Open Mic night at Syndicate Lounge, on 20th Street in downtown Birmingham, is a great show. It hosts many regular comedians from surrounding areas who want to work on some new material, and is a good place for first time performers, and rookie comics alike. Chris Ivey has done an amazing job over the last 2 years to grow the show, and help build up the comedy scene, as well as bring in some great national talent from time to time. Tuesdays have been the biggest night for open mic comedy, with Darrell J Live hosting the Bring Me Laughs comedy show at Rare Martini in Lakeview. This show has seen at least four different host over nearly 8 years. Unfortunately, Rare Martini recently shut it’s door for good after New Year’s, and Birmingham comics were left with a major void. There was a disturbance in the Force, as if millions of laughs were suddenly silence. However, Darrell J was able to find a new venue, and the Bring Me Laughs open mic will now be hosted at the Zodiac Lounge on Valley Ave in Fairfield (YAY!) This show is where I really learned how to perform, and holds a special place for me as well as many other local comedians.
In addition to the current open mics, there is also some great improve comedy shows occasionally around town. Positively Funny Improv is the most well known, and runs on Thursdays at the Stardome, which is hosted and operated by comedy veterans. They also offer improv, and comedy classes, which is worth looking into if you cant figure out where to start in comedy and writing. Another great improv show is Bread Meat Bread, which has taken their act to several different places in Birmingham, such as The Craic at Buck Mulligans in 5 Points South, and BYOB in Lakeview. Coming Up on Friday, January 20th, Taco Truck Tuesday (I know, it’s a weird name) will return to The Craic at Buck Mulligans for another hilarious night of improv, and features some great local talent. It’s always a great show, so be sure to check it out and look for more shows in the future.
As you can see, Birmingham, AL has a great comedy scene, and I hope more people start to discover all that it has to offer. With a huge variety of comics and an abundance of talent, the Magic City will surprise you. I’ll be doing my best to shine a light on all the great shows in town and help introduce you to the many talented local comedians in future articles. Next week, the Stardome will be hosting their final round of the open mic competition and I will be talking with many of the performers. I’m really looking forward to it so stay posted and keep laughing Birmingham!!!!