Photographer captures comedians at their most vulnerable (or hilarious, whichever comes first)
For a stand-up comedian, it’s important to gauge how well audiences will react to new material, usually because it could result in anything ranging from batshit hysterics to a stampede of people who can’t leave the room fast enough. Open mics are a way to test those waters, and since 2010, photographer Michelle Alexis Newman has been at work capturing the moment a comedian tries a new joke, be it good or bad.
“The project itself came about when I went to an open mic with a friend in Seattle and became fascinated with the process,” says Newman. “Other art forms get to hide away and practice until they are ready to present to the world, but the art of making someone laugh can only be practiced in a public arena. So failure and success are equally witnessed. It’s very vulnerable.”
Thanks to Newman, you can witness those failures and success for yourself. For the pictures, the comedian picks a joke, and then Newman snaps a picture and pairs the picture of the comedian with their joke. Whether it turns out to be funny or not is up to you.
“I’ve had people come up to me and say they don’t get it, and my response is ‘That’s fine! Have a look at the next guy.’” Says Newman. “Just like the open mic process itself, one guy will bomb and the next one may kill.”
You can check out Newman’s project, “The Open Mic” (and the various oddballs that come with it) here.