When Carolyn Busa and Mary Radzinski met at a comedy open mike night at the Urban Saloon on 21st and Fairmount, they knew it was the ideal spot for their own comedic undertakings. In March 2011, the two comedians launched their own open mike night called Laughs on Fairmount. Tucked away in the back of the bar is a dark room where residents showcase their talents in front of a live audience.
“We just saw an opportunity in this room,” Radzinski recalled. “We knew it could be a good room and we knew that the establishment was open to comedy.”
Laughs on Fairmount was founded during a time when open mike nights were hard to find in Philadelphia.
“I think if we started it now we wouldn’t have been so inclined, but there weren’t too many mikes a couple of years ago,” Busa said.
In its opening year, Laughs on Fairmount was recognized as Best Open Mike by the 2011 WitOut Awards for Philadelphia Comedy. The award was sponsored by a blog called WitOut.net that aims to provide information about stand-up comedy in the city. Other than awards, both co-founders are frequently covered by the website.
Comedian and regular attendee Tommy Touhill said he believes the open mike night’s popularity can be attributed to the comfortable atmosphere created by Radzinski and Busa.
“They abide by their own rules,” Touhill explained. “Everybody gets a chance. You don’t always have to go last. Some people don’t always get to go first. They are pretty fair about how much time you can get.”
Each contestant is given between three and four minutes to perform so all interested comedians have a chance to practice their craft before the show ends around 10 p.m.
The weekly event has attracted about 35 participants and many are newcomers.
“We’ve gotten a lot of people to start doing comedy here,” Radzinski said.
Practicing comedy is the true inspiration for Laughs on Fairmount. The team’s ultimate goal is to fortify the presence of comedy in Philadelphia.
“I feel like it’s really strong right now,” Radzinski said. “Philly is certainly not known as a comedy city but I feel like we’re working every year to change that.”
Laughs on Fairmount is a free public event held every Monday at 8 p.m.