Thanks to Cleo King, the queen of open mics

Cleo King

I like when an adage (saying, proverb, maxim) make good sense, because it seems like shorthand wisdom.  The one that struck me this week was “You don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone.”

I get it! You get something, you start to rely on it, you get a little lazy and maybe don’t appreciate it as much as when it was new.  Some things you do appreciate, the entire time, even when you can’t devote the same amount of energy into approval or appreciation.  But that doesn’t mean you’re not gonna miss it, when it can’t be experienced again.

A perfect example is Cleo King’s Open Mic.  This long running open mic, held at the Two Roads Theatre in Studio City, recently had its final show. Cleo has business that takes her away from running a weekly show, and good for her.  Her show was very supportive for all kinds of performances.  I went to try out material, but I always had to bring my “A” game because all the other performances were of such high caliber.  It was a “put your name in the hat” system, so you never knew if you were gonna be picked. When your name was called, you did your time in front of a fun, attentive, supportive audience of actors, singers, comedians, and fans of live performances.

There’s was  a great “we got your back” song that the Cleo’s crowd clapped to at the beginning.  I’m just glad I was a part of that caring atmosphere. I appreciated it before, during, and after, and never got to play it enough.  Cleo King’s Open Mic will be missed and remembered.

Another open mic milestone occurred this month for one of my favorite  “try-out-material” venues. The esteemed Joke Gym  turned 9—as in 9 years old. That’s significant in open mic years. That’s a career for some people! With a few venue changes  and a hiatus here or there, Paula Johnson and Scott Shimamoto have run a consistent room where comics of all stripes from professionals to first-timers can enjoy a listening and laughing crowd, usually with accompaniment of good food, since it’s most often held in the bar area of a restaurant.

In the case of The Joke Gym, it’s does not have to be gone for me to know how much I appreciate it.   Instead of “You don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone,” perhaps this approach works better: “Enjoy while it lasts.”

1 thought on “Thanks to Cleo King, the queen of open mics”

  1. Steve, for me “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone,” will always take me back to the Joni Mitchell lyrics. When I sang these songs I was so young I would learn the lyrics first and the meaning later as life unfolded. Memories, they are what make life rich.

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