Whether it's punchlines or chorus lines you want, there's a cornucopia of options at any of the area's open-mike nights.
Open mike (no, it's not open mic, unless you're the doctor getting ready to perform Mick Jagger's open-heart surgery) has become a popular draw for local clubs and an opportunity for songsters and jokesters to showcase their notes and quotes.
Usually featuring a slew of acts in short sets by stand-up comics or sit-down singers, many open-mike formats allow anyone a fling on stage.
At Lowell's Warp & Weft, the Thursday night event has become a midweek savior for the new pub. The 3 1/2 hours are broken into 14 intervals of 10 minutes. Artists arrive ahead of the 9 o'clock kickoff to claim a slot.
"We fill every slot every week," co-owner Craig Faulkner said. "It is the most consistent night we have since we opened."
W&W provides everything for the performers, including a house band.
"Performers try out new material with our audience or sing some old favorites, from classic rock to hip-hop, even some stand-up comedy," Faulkner said.
And the beauty of it, according to one audience member, is that if the act is not to your liking, it'll be over in 10 minutes.
Most open-mike events are similar in format, offering a buffet of tidbits to sample.
It's not just traditional night clubs that have woven the practice into their weekly entertainment line-up.
Strong Style Coffee, 13 Cushing St.
Among the more than two dozen area venues is Markoh's on Main in Ayer. Their Tuesday night "Wings and Strings" is geared toward the acoustic musician -- drumsticks and guitars.
The Hearing Room at 119 Chelmsford St., Lowell, likes the event so much they do it twice a week -- Tuesdays, from 7 to 10 p.m., and Sundays, from 2 to 5 p.m. Open mikes allow for amateurs -- poets, storytellers, singers, songwriters or comics -- to stand up against seasoned pros in the same arena, on the same stage.
"It really isn't a competitive environment," Warp & Weft's Faulkner said. "Artists tend to be supportive of each other. And the audience also helps the performers relax."
Most open mikes are Sunday through Thursday, leaving the weekends for the clubs' normal entertainment, like live headliners or DJs.
Chelmsford Center for the Arts is a one-time exception to that. The Center will host an open mike for a variety of performers on Friday, April 19, and it will be filmed and uploaded to YouTube.
For those brave enough to sling rhymes or rhythm in front of a live audience, this is a potential launching pad. Contact the center at www.chelmsfordarts.org for available time slots and other information.
There is no real comprehensive list of open-mike nights in the region, but several entertainment websites provide an overview of choices. What's important is to confirm with the venue that the shows will go on as scheduled.