Green Bean open mic offers stand up, singing

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Students gathered on Branca Patio under Los Angeles’ starless sky Thursday night for a medley of student performances that included beatboxing, stand-up comedy, a cappella and guitar solos. This open mic, co-hosted by the Green Bean and Raw Records, was the second of the semester and marked the last event in the Green Bean’s spring series, ending the yearlong event series.

Unlike the previous open mic that was hosted inside the Green Bean, last week’s location on Branca Patio unintentionally incorporated campus trademarks such as the bell tower chimes and a Campus Safety officer on his nightly rounds. The impromptu atmosphere fit the nature of the event, where one did not know which member of the audience was slated to perform, or what talent would be showcased.

The Green Bean staff planning the event provided a stage suitable for various types of acts, from athletes to Raw Records musicians, for both seasoned performers and newcomers. Music major Claire Tolman (sophomore) has performed at previous open mics, as well as with the Glee Club and the Accidentals. She often performs original compositions, but Thursday Tolman sang a cover of a Pentatonix song with other members of the Glee Club.

“I love performing with the Glee Club but it’s totally different [than performing at an open mic],” Tolman said. “We usually do classical stuff and when you’re performing with such a big group you’re not really seen unless you have a solo.”

History major Ben Silver (senior) began writing stand up comedy a couple months ago. Although he has performed at comedy club open mics around L.A., Thursday was his first time performing at Occidental.

“I was the most nervous I’ve ever been for a show for this one, mostly because it was the first time all my friends had been able to see what I’ve been working on these past two months,” Silver said. “But also because – I’ll preface this by saying this is a great campus, I love it here, I wouldn’t change anything – but there are definitely a lot of jokes that you can and cannot tell.”

Silver explained that not only are comedy club audiences expecting more outrageous jokes than the college crowd, but that they are more interactive and responsive. At Occidental open mics, where students primarily perform music, it can be harder to engage with the audience and elicit positive responses.

The Green Bean has occasionally organized events since it opened in 2009, but when Urban and Environmental Policy (UEP) and economics double major Lillian Krovoza (junior) became Green Bean Programming and Customer Experience Manager at the beginning of this year, she attempted to host an event every two weeks. When UEP major Caroline Bringenberg (senior) took over this semester while Krovoza studies abroad, she continued Krovoza’s programming strategy. This semester’s events have included two open mics, a trivia night, Fantastiprov show and waste audit at the Earth Day Fair Friday.

According to Bringenberg, the Green Bean events have been well–attended this year due to consistency in programming and increased advertising.

“I think that the Green Bean is a really special place on campus because it’s just completely student run, which is really unique. There’s really nothing else on campus that really functions that way,” Bringenberg said.

Krovoza will return to the programming manager position when she returns to campus in the fall. Bringenberg hopes that Krovoza will repeat some of the more successful programs, such as the open mics and the Raw Records showcase that happened in the fall, but also put on new programs, perhaps an art opening. Krovoza’s goals include collaborating with clubs more often and having more opportunities to perform spoken word and poetry.

“Being able to plan events for the GB and work with so many different students and organizations on campus was so fun, and I can’t wait to kick it off again next year,” Krovoza said via email.