KWCW’s open mics allow members of the Whitman and Walla Walla communities to demonstrate their talents within an intimate space. On November 30, musicians, comedians and poets took their place in Kimball Theater for one such open mic. They relaxed as the first musician, Corey Cogley, took to the stage.
Cogley, a music theory major, began with an intricate and beautiful rendition of “El Polifemo de Oro” by Reginald Smith Brindle.
“It’s one that I’ve been working on for a couple years now,” said Cogley. “I have tried to play a lot of different things at the open mics since I started going to them, and that was one I’ve recently been performing, and I wanted another opportunity to solidify it in front of an audience.”
Brindle’s piece is entirely instrumental, and within the confines of Kimball, a single guitar can fill the space. The small audience, most of whom were also intending to perform, became noticeably quieter as Cogley began.
Cogley sees open mics as a time to experiment before a small crowd.
“It is an opportunity for the performers,” Cogley said. “It’s not really about the listening experience, it’s more for the performer to get a chance to play in front of anyone.”
He also expressed a want to escape the generic formula of a guitarist at an open mic. It is normal to hear covers of popular songs, but Cogley relishes the opportunity to escape that boundary and play something that the audience does not expect. It is rare to hear a classical guitar piece, and even rarer to hear one at such an event, but the audience listened with rapt attention.
David Lilburn, a sophomore and a stand-up comedian, also performed that evening.
“I love doing stand-up and open mics are the best chance I have to do it on campus,” Lilburn said. “I do improv, I’m on Varsity Nordic, and one day I started writing [stand-up]. I kept having ideas so I started to write them down–I wanted to try them out.”
His routine consisted of a two-part, ten minute section of stand-up that followed a number of distinctive story-lines. This is where improv and stand-up diverge.
“There are two big differences [between improv and stand-up],” Lilburn said. “The first is being able to plan stuff out. Improv, despite what some may think, isn’t planned … With stand-up, you can do these longer jokes that have a story behind them. The other thing is that when you’re doing stand-up, it’s just you. It’s more nerve-wracking; in improv, I have a team so if I start doing poorly or if I mess up somehow, a teammate can tag me out and I can wait on the sidelines for a bit.”
Cillian Mitchell, the general manager of KWCW, was also in attendance. He sees KWCW’s events as a time to bring two communities together.
“We try to do a lot of events during the semester to get our DJs together and our audience together,” said Mitchell. “We want to have a communal space. DJing at KWCW can be kind of isolating because you’re just in the studio by yourself or with your co-host, but your not with the rest of KW put together. So we throw events that allow our audience and DJs to meet and hang out.”
He went on to say, “we like to do open mics because it reflects what KW is all about. On KW, we try to give a platform for new artists to come play. We feel like the open mic is similar to that. We give a platform for students and community members to show of their talents to a small, but like-minded audience.”
Ultimately, this KWCW Open Mic delivered poetry, music and comedy in a way that allowed new and practicing performers alike to engage with each other in an intimate space and develop their particular talents.