From comedy open mics to big-name comics making tour stops in Eugene, stand-up comedy has gained a foothold in Eugene’s nightlife.
Eugene Weekly thought it was high time to catch up with three local comedians, all of whom host their own open mics around town.
Seth Milstein hosts Welcome to Hell: A Comedy Open Mic on Sundays at Old Nick’s Pub in the Whiteaker; Sarah Hagen cohosts a comedy open mic on Sundays at the 5th Street Cornucopia; and Chaz Logan Hyde hosts Amusedays every Tuesday at Luckey’s in downtown Eugene.
Combined, the three comics have about 15 years of experience in the trenches of local comedy, and they all agree Eugene’s comedy scene is thriving.
How’d you all get started doing comedy?
Hagen: I’m a Ph.D. student in math. I thought it would be funny to do a normal stand-up comedy set, but then end with a math lesson — no joke at all — and then be like, “There’s no joke. I told you mathematicians were assholes.” That was my very first open mic. It worked exactly how I wanted it to. It was a super welcoming community. I joke that Seth is kind of like my comedy dad.
Milstein: I prefer “comedy uncle.”
Hagen: Try getting younger then, dad.
Milstein: Since I can remember, I wanted to do it. There was a show that came on after SNL, Comic Strip Live. I was like, “These guys don’t even need costumes, or wigs, or anything!” I tried it, and it was horrible. I didn’t do it again for over a year. I went to a show here in Eugene. They had open mic afterwards. I did the same exact set and got a laugh after every punchline. I remember walking down the steps off of the stage, and I was like, “I just do this now.” That was the best feeling. Comics are usually weirdos and we don’t know how to relate to people on a regular level. I’m only comfortable talking to people if I have a microphone, and I’m the only one that’s allowed to talk.
Logan Hyde: I’ve always been interested in doing comedy, always been a fan of it. I watched Conan. I met Todd Glass (stand-up comic) in Atlanta. I talked to him for a while after his show, and he convinced me. I just started. For a solid month I just talked to a wall of silence until I got the beats going. Eventually I got the hang of it.
What’s funny in Eugene?
Milstein: Wherever you are, making fun of that place is funny. Part of being proud of living here is also being self-aware of why it’s ridiculous.
Logan Hyde: Weed humor works well.
Are open mics in Eugene well attended?
All: By comics.
Milstein: Chaz’s open mic gets a pretty fair ratio of comics to not-comics.
Logan Hyde: We get a pretty sizable turnout. It changes all the time. I get a lot of first timers at my mic. About 20 percent of them will hang on and stick around.
Milstein: Comedy is a weird bucket-list thing. Where everyone’s like, I think I can try it. And then they try it.
Chaz: Or one’s just good enough…
Logan Hyde: We have a lot of mics. We have the potential to do open mics, behind Portland. It’s a goofy town, too – a performance-driven town.
Do you write down most of your material or do you improvise?
Hagen: One hundred percent written. If I’m riffing, I’m terrified up there. It’s very structured.
Milstein: Ninety percent of my stuff is written.
Logan Hyde: It’s all pretty well written. When I do riff, I have a premise. I want to see if it has legs on stage. I try to take a more absurdist approach
Hagen: I do almost purely nerdy. I have a bit about giving birth, but I decided early on I didn’t want to be the mom comic. My stuff is almost aggressively not personal.
Milstein: Mine is aggressively personal. Everyone has their own style: dirty, nerdy, absurdy…
Hagen: Or wordy…
Let’s keep rhyming! Squirty?
Milstein: There are some squirt jokes.
Talk about the Best of Eugene Comedy Album?
Milstein: It’s going to happen. We did the recording.
Logan Hyde: Eight or nine of us, we all did 10-minute sets on it.
Milstein: We’re going to do a streaming thing; you can buy individual tracks or just buy it as the album.
If I wanted to do an open mic, how would I get started?
Hagen: I say go to every single open mic. Go to them for a few weeks. Write down what you want to say and practice at home, and then choose which mic you want to do your first one at, and then go up. And that’s the thing: You can. Eugene is an amazing place to start doing comedy. I don’t think I would’ve thrived in the Portland scene.
Milstein: Living in a town that has such a lack of diversity, we have a pretty well-rounded scene — female comics, people of color. There’s always room for more voices. We’re full up on white guys. Every comedy scene has too many white guys.
For more information about the Best of Eugene Comedy Album, local open mics or local comedy shows, go to eugenecomedyscene.com or search eugenecomedyscene on Facebook or Instagram.