The Circle Inn Bar, located in North Mankato, draws customers in with its welcoming atmosphere and entertainment. Since Nov. 21, 2021, the local bar has been hosting weekly comedy open mic nights, having grown to entertain crowds of over 50 people.
Comedy night Creator Dan Vierck got a passion for comedy open mics in 2014, when he started attending them in Madison, WI, where he was living. When he moved to Mankato in 2021, he found the city was lacking a comedy scene and was quickly looking to fix that.
“In settling and meeting people in the community, I decided to try starting a weekly comedy open mic,” said Vierck. “With the support of people who have been long-entrenched in the area arts community, it has grown into something better than I ever could’ve imagined.”
The open mic nights are open to anyone, whether they are just wanting to give comedy a try or they have been doing it for years.
“I put the sign-up sheet out at 7 p.m. At 7:30, I make a couple announcements, do some jokes myself, or what I think are jokes, then I introduce the next performer,” shared Vierck.
Vierck emphasized that the atmosphere of the events are welcoming for everyone. Swearing is allowed for jokes, but jokes that are openly racist, homophobic, or demeaning aren’t allowed.
“We haven’t had a problem with people [making insensitive jokes] but I’m confident the people in the room would not respond well, which is enough for most people to know not to make that mistake again,” said Vierck. “If someone comes in thinking comedy is just a succession of outrageous, taboo, slanderous statements, this open mic is an opportunity for them to see it can be many, many things. Instead of just booting someone who’s ignorant or lazy, I think this might be a key opportunity for that person to grow.”
Vierck and the Circle Inn staff also have clear opinions about heckling- it’s not tolerated.
“There’s an idea out there that audience members who heckle or whatever make the show better and the bottom line is, it’s not allowed at this open mic,” shared Vierck. “We have a wide variety of kinds of funny and if one person isn’t your cup of tea, give it a minute and maybe you’ll like the next person better.”
Mankato resident Shelley Pierce has been a regular attendee since the open mic nights started. Pierce has enjoyed all the shows and encourages people to attend future shows.
“The environment that Dan has curated is very supportive and enthusiastic, and because of that people feel safe enough to give it a shot,” said Pierce. “Mankato is really lucky to have comedy at the Circle Inn. I’d encourage anyone who would like to learn more to come and be a part of the audience, and who knows, they just might be inspired to give stand up comedy a try themselves.”
Vierck encourages those who are willing to try comedy to come out and test their jokes, all the while enjoying the jokes of others.
“One of the dozen mottos I’ve drafted for the [open mic nights] is ‘different jokes from different folks.’ We aren’t all professionals, and we aren’t always good, but if you’re willing to roll the dice on watching other people roll the dice into a microphone, it’s a pretty fun time,” said Vierck.
Beginning in May, the open mic comedy nights will be held on Wednesdays up until the football season starts again. The Circle Inn will also be running monthly shows over the summer, the first being Thursday, May 19.
Header Photo: The Circle Inn Bar in North Mankato has been hosting weekly comedy nights where people have the opportunity to listen to local comedians and try their own hand at standup. (Courtesy photo)
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