On Monday nights at The Irish Times, a small, intimate pub tucked away at 2nd and Bainbridge, Mike Dougherty can be found hosting his weekly open mic nights. Dougherty, a Mayfair resident, started the series a few months ago to pursue both his love of comedy and as a chance to spend time with his son, also named Mike.
“My son lives in the area. We were just hanging out here at the pub, Mike and I, and I said to the owner, Eamonn [Lyons], ‘Hey, you guys should have an open mic night,'” Dougherty said.
Lyons decided to give the go-ahead and the beginning of the weekly comedy nights began, offering both regulars and newcomers the chance to perform. While it focuses mostly on stand-up, all acts are welcome. During the night, a mix of music and jokes were performed, mainly by those who are regulars to the venue.
“It’s like a family, a community,” Dougherty said. Highlights of the night included Rusty and Jan, a classical/folk duo, and Kevin Hurley, an actor and comedian.
Chris Schmidt, from a 27-year-old from Ridley, comes to the weekly event often to perform on his guitar. As his friends laughingly shouted out suggestions, he started the show with some self-deprecating humor before launching into a handful of rock covers. Rusty, from Rusty and Jan, said in the middle of the duo’s set, “You guys make it so fun to be Irish.” Much cheering ensued.
Dougherty got his start in comedy “by accident,” through his childhood friend, Joe Conklin. Conklin is a fixture on the local radio for his impersonations and also works as a sports commentator.
“When you’re on the radio every day, you’re under a lot of pressure,” Dougherty said. “One day we were just bouncing some ideas off each other and I said, ‘Joe, try this.’ And I ended up being a full-time writer for him. We just work really together; we’re synchronized idiots, as I like to say.”
As the night wore on, rounds of beer were quickly ordered, musicians and comedians alike flocked back to the stage and the crowd seemed in no rush to slow down.
“They go until 12:00, 12:30 some nights, most nights,” Dougherty said with a laugh. “They always have fun.”