Spoken Word / Music, Underground: Penny’s Open Mic in NYC

Photos Courtesy of Cathryn Lynne

Every Tuesday night for the past five years, Penny Pollak (playwright and contributor to Exit Strata: Print! No. #1) has hosted Penny’s Open Mic in the East Village. And every week, a freak scene of musicians, storytellers, comedians, and performance artists descends into the basement theater of Under St. Marks for what is arguably the best open mic in NYC.

Indie singer/songwriter rocking out in a tutu? Check. A female comic in a Scottish kilt and faux beard woefully commenting on how hard it is to be a man? Check. A cappella rap? Check. The devil making fun of the sins of humanity? Check. Underground poetry read by spotlight with sitar accompaniment? Check. It’s all there… Anything goes and you never know what to expect from a night at Penny’s.

But Penny’s is more than just another open mic in a city for those that attend every Tuesday. The eclectic crowd is a true family of performers… believers, if you will, in underground art in all its forms. Penny’s is known as a place to experiment, premiere new songs, test out jokes, tell a story, or just talk, talk, talk.

Heckling (and glitter) are banned, and the atmosphere in the tiny black-box theater is always welcoming and encouraging to every artist that steps up to the microphone for their 7 minute time-slot. And even if you are lucky enough to get an early slot on the list, stick around for the half-time hootenanny when house guitarist Mike Milazzo is joined on stage by anyone who wants to jam out.

Penny’s Open Mic starts at 9 pm every Tuesday downstairs at Under St. Marks Theater (94 St. Marks Place, East Village, NYC / $3 dollars at the door) and the show ends after the very last performer steps off stage (often around 1 or 2 am).

Come one, come all, and be prepared to get your freak on.

Cue the saxophone and remember to tip your bartender…