Comedy Open Mike Monday at Sherlock's

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The bathroom attendant at Sherlock's singing along to this song on the radio while I used the urinal was one of the more intimate non-sexual moments of my year so far. Here I was trying to piss, and there he was, earnestly expressing himself by the sink and waiting to hand me a paper towel. As I washed my hands (I do this anyway, but it'd be really hard not to with a guy sitting on a stool and holding a paper towel just for you), he told me, "Coldplay! That is a bad jam! Nothing like some good music." I didn't have any change so I dried my hands and left without tipping him.

He had a good voice; if not I could have held my cell phone up to indicate otherwise. That's how the audience was instructed to show disapproval at Sherlock's Monday comedy open mike night - a crowdsourced Gong Show or iPhone Apollo Theater, with the performers a mix of local amateur and pro comics.

No comic got that treatment while I was there, though. Not even to the kid who summoned a wall of silence after going on a rant about religion as if he were possessed by Bill Hicks on an off night.

The relative warmth could have been because most people in the bar's rear cave were drinking. This is made easier on Mondays by some good specials - $2 wells, calls and domestic drafts; $3 "super calls" and premium drafts and bottles; $4 for extra-super-duper calls (our language).

But I've seen drinking turn things in the opposite direction, when every third drunken asshole in the room with a half-formed thought to offer realizes he or she has got something to say. After a few years watching local comedy -- one of my closest friends does it, and is legitimately funny while working much smarter and cleaner than most comics -- I've found that people yelling shit is funny about 5 percent of the time. So unless someone gives you 19:1 odds or better on your comment being worthwhile, it's probably best to stay quiet.

Then again, maybe the lack of phones was due to the fact that a majority of the audience was there to see a friend perform. Most people with friends who do comedy understand how difficult it is.

Either way, if you go, there will be plenty to make you consider pulling out your cell - the tired black/white stuff, raunchy "I can't believe he/she said what we're all thinking" sexual stuff. It's an open mike. And you'll be sitting in a "pub" that has a website with a pull-down menu to select the state in which you're looking for a Watson-Sherlock-Baker Street-Fun-Time Corp. bar. There are points when you'll want to drop to the floor and politely army-crawl past the stage and out into West Gray to wait for a Nissan Armada to send you to hell, where you can hang out with Hicks, Gilda Radner and Bob Hope. (That last one sounds strange, but we have it from a good source.)

But there are points when you'll see the difference between music and comedy open mikes. Music open-mike nights, with some exceptions, don't attract established talent. With comedy, though, professionals and legit amateurs tune their sets and try out new material. Houston has a handful of these folks who do open mikes, and if you're in the mood, they can make nights like this worth it. Cheap booze and extrovert bathroom attendants don't hurt.

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