Open mic night: Bozeman

It’s Comedy Gate night, a monthly stand up comedy event held on Monday nights in the front area of Whistle Pig Korean restaurant. The comics are amateurs and Bozeman is certainly not known for its comedy scene, but those few that shuffle into the seats in front of makeshift stage are in for a charming and hilarious evening. The night leaves newcomers and seasoned comedy fans alike feeling welcomed and delighted by the funniest people in town. It is an experience I recommend anyone giving a try.


A few short conversations with strangers before the show gave a sense of what Bozeman’s standup is all about. Every comedian I interviewed made a point about how Bozeman’s comedy scene is different from those of bigger cities that are defined by their harshness and competition. Bozeman’s comedians are all about acceptance, which is shown by how often comics are been taken into the comedy world. Half of the comedians I spoke to had been doing stand up for less than a year, and all of them said they had to cut their teeth at open mic nights such as the ones held at the Bar IX.


While Comedy Gate is an event for comedians that have upgraded from open mics, there were still many instances that night where the novices’ jokes fell flat, but each of those instances was laughed off and quickly overridden by the next joke. This ebb and flow of comedic hits and misses was rough at times, but eventually each comedians would find a diamond in that rough that redeemed their set. For these comedians the stage is a fire for forging their skills. Seeing this forge live is an electric experience.


Later into the night the head liners Sarah Aswell and Dan Brooks took the stage, displaying the finest comedic talent a viewer could hope to find in Bozeman. These more seasoned comedians have been doing comedy for two years and took up the hobby on a dare. The time they have put into this hobby truly showed as their sets evoked laughter at the same rate as a professional comedy special. One of the most riveting moments of the night was when Dan engaged in “crowd work” interviewing crowd members and turning their answers into improvised jokes, but the true highlight of the night was Sarah Aswell’s set. Her style was a mix of material that was simultaneously relatable, domestic and darkly humorous.


As the laughter that trailed the final joke faded and the lights came up, the euphoria from the night lingered. For those looking to get their fair share of laughs, Comedy Gate has a Facebook page where they post the dates and lineups for each event. Bar IX also hosts open mic nights on every other Wednesday of every month for those brave enough to step up to the mic.


Jenna Eliel performs during open mic night at Whistle Pig Korean Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 Photo by Hanna Avery