This article is from the Stand-up Comedy FAQ, by Steven Rosenthal and Steve Silberberg (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
A. I consider open mics to be a hobby like fencing or building model
railroads or refinishing furniture. You put in time and effort, you achieve
a certain level of expertise, but the odds that you'll get back any of the
time or money you invest are very small. It becomes a matter of deciding
what you're going to do with your life.
So what am I going to do with the time I have left here on Earth? I can
entertain people who are as bored as I am. For a few hours, I can forget my
stupid money problems and help others forget, too. Open mics are great for
that. If it turns out that I have a chance to make a little money from it,
get a little recognition, and maybe hit it big, all the better. But when
I'm up on stage at an open mic I try to get as much emotional and
intellectual value out of those few moments as I can. If I didn't, I'd be
in real trouble. Because that might be all I ultimately get out of it.