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Where to Catch Open Mic Nights in NOLA

Rebirth Brass Band performs at the Maple Leaf Bar (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

New Orleans is full of artists, writers, comedians, and all manner of talented folk. Ever wonder how some of them got their start? Many likely tried their hand, or voice, at an open mic night or two. Open mic nights abound in the city, ranging in theme from poetry to storytelling to comedy, and sometimes to just whatever your chosen art form is. Peruse our listing of some of New Orleans’ most notable open mic nights, and then make plans to attend—and perhaps debut some of your own work.

Maple Leaf

8316 Oak St., (504) 866-9359

The Maple Leaf Bar claims title to hosting the longest-running poetry reading series in North America. What began in 1979 has continued to the present as a platform for both established and up-and-coming poets to share their work. Readings are held Sundays at 3 p.m. Maple Leaf requests that those interested in reading contact them in advance.

The AllWays Lounge

2240 St. Claude Ave., (504) 218-5778

Get really uncomfortable or really aroused (or both) with a rotating slew of erotic literary talents reading their “sexy spoken word, perverse poetry, and sensualist soliloquies.” Esoterotica, as it is known, is generally every other Wednesday at the AllWays Lounge (doors at 7, show at 8 p.m.). Email info@esoterotica for more information about submitting your own work for a show.

Ashé Cultural Arts Center

1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., (504) 569-9070

New Orleans Youth Open Mic started in 2014 out of a desire to reinvigorate the youth poetry scene. NOYOM provides a forum for young writers in grades seven through 12 (or those in the same age group but out of school) to share their voices at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center. New Orleans Youth Open Mic is held every third Wednesday of every month (double check when the date conflicts with holidays). Open mic sign-ups began at 6 p.m. with shows at 6:15 p.m. Donations of $2 are requested.

Cafe Istanbul (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Cafe Istanbul

2372 St. Claude Ave., (504) 975-0286

On the second Tuesday of each month, Cafe Istanbul hosts The Moth StorySLAM, a forum for storytellers, or just those wanting to tell a story, to share a five minute long true tale. Sign-up to tell your story at 7 p.m. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10. For the poets out there, Cafe Istanbul also hosts the Poetry On Poets series every Monday night at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5.

Carrollton Station

8140 Willow St., (504) 865-9190

Perhaps one of the most popular and well-respected open mic comedy nights in town, Carrollton Station’s “Think You’re Funny?” series has been running for over a decade. Every Wednesday night starting at 9 p.m., comics (sometimes even celebrity comedians show up for a set) take the stage for a four minute go at making the audience laugh. Sign-ups are an hour before showtime. The show is free.

Dragon’s Den

435 Esplanade Ave., (504) 940-4446

Try your comedic wit during Crescent Fresh Stand-Up, every Thursday at Dragon’s Den. Sign-ups start at 7, shows are at 8 p.m., and the entire thing (minus the drinks to get you to the stage) is free. Crescent Fresh Stand-Up is brought to us by the non-ironically named It’s Good Comedy.

The Dragonfly

3921 St. Claude Ave., (504) 460-2008

The Dragonfly in the Bywater bills itself as a “poetry and performance ritual space.” In addition to writer’s workshops, including a songwriter circle, the space hosts the Blood Jet Poetry Series, previously hosted at BJ’s Lounge. The Blood Jet Poetry Series is a free poetry and music series that occurs every Wednesday from 8-10:30 p.m. (sign-ups at 7:30 p.m.) that features a set program followed by a limited open mic. The Dragonfly is BYOB.

New Orleans Jazz Market (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

New Orleans Jazz Market

1436 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., (504) 371-5849

DC Paul, a local actor, comedian, and writer, emcees the Wednesday Jam Session open mic series at the New Orleans Jazz Market. Every Wednesday beginning at 9:00 p.m., a variety of artists, ranging from spoken word artists, to comedians, to rappers, take the stage to share their talents. Wednesday Jam Sessions are free and open to the public. Arrive early to sign-up for an open mic slot. The New Orleans Jazz Market also hosts a rotating selection of vendors, and their bar offers drinks for sale throughout the evening.

Neutral Ground Coffee House

5110 Danneel St., (504) 891-3381

The laid back Neutral Ground Coffee House, wedged into the Uptown neighborhood, has long played host to open mic nights, poetry readings, and other casual, non-alcohol-induced events. Open Mic Night takes place every Sunday evening beginning at 7:30 p.m. (sign-ups at 7 p.m.), while Borsodi’s Poetry Hour, an open poetry night, is every Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. Bring your act, or just post-up to listen and play a board game.

The Quisby

1225 St. Charles Ave., (504) 208-4881

The Quisby, a bar and hostel on St. Charles Avenue, hosts the Quisby Open Mic the first and third Thursdays of each month. Welcoming locals and out-of-towners, any given performance could include “a New Orleans songwriter, a poet from Sweden, and stand-up comedian from South America,” says Aaron Taylor, an open mic host and songwriter who hosts the Quisby Open Mic. Sign-ups start at 6:30 p.m., with performers taking the mic around 7:15 p.m.


2227 St. Claude Ave., (504) 265-8855

The aptly named Comic Strip pops up weekly at Siberia on Mondays at 9:30 p.m. A fusion of a show, it includes burlesque performance interwoven with open mic performances. Chris Lane hosts this no cover event. Mondays are no longer the worst day of the week!

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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