It was Roy Fischler’s first time as a comedian on stage.
He was nervous that he’d forget the jokes, or no one would laugh.
He brought the mic close to his mouth and began reciting one-liners off the sheets of paper he gripped between his fingers.
“How did a democracy start? Did the people take a vote?”
He got his laugh.
Fischler, 56, was the first act at a recent open mic night put on by One Struggle, a South Florida group that opposes capitalism.
One Struggle organizes the open mic nights to discuss different political thoughts through art, music, poetry and comedy.
“We are not confining it to a particular range of ideas. If people want to sing a love song, that’s fine, but we thought we would give an opportunity for people to express more political ideas,” said Stephanie McMillan, founder of One Struggle in Fort Lauderdale.
One Struggle’s goal is to bring together people who disagree with the current economic and political system and create a conversation about capitalism’s flaws and weaknesses.
“Its purpose is to be non-dogmatic, non-sectarian, and to unite any kind of people against the current order to work together to try to fight that order. They could be anarchist, they could be communist, they could be socialist, they could be independent, non-affiliated, non-labeled people of any sort who want to work together to end capitalism and imperialism,” said McMillan, who is also a cartoonist and writer of five political books.
McMillan published The Beginning of American Fall in November and spoke about cartoons and social change at the 2012 Miami International Book Fair.
At a recent session, Cecilia Newell Luzietti, 40, member of One Struggle, laughed, clapped and sang as comedians, musicians and poets took the stage.
“Open mic night is entertaining,’’ said Luzietti, who usually sings at the event. “We have a lot of entertainment in this world, but we don’t have enough entertainment where we are also engaging our minds.’’
Trish Sheldon, 37, lead singer of Blue Sky Drive, an alternative-rock band from Hollywood, agrees.
She recently performed three songs with her guitarist, Lisa Cattoretti, 45.
“It’s always fun to get together with your friends and have art and current issues brought to life in a fun setting,” said Sheldon, a South Florida organizer for Millions Against Monsanto, a national movement against genetically modified organisms in food.
“I’ve seen a lot more open formats for art but not necessarily political format with art, so that is really refreshing to see,” said Sheldon. “It’s important to connect with art and politics.”
Kaan Ocbe, 24, who has been master of ceremonies at the open mic nights, joined One Struggle in the beginning of 2012. He plays the guitar in his folk band, Unity Rise, which he created with his friends Tyler Lewis, 23, bassist, and Chris Annis, 24, drummer, especially for the open mic night.
“A lot of groups’ fighting is centered around single issues, [but] it limits the scope organizations can have in the community because everyone gets tunnel vision,” he said.
For Ocbe, open mic night is a place to unite people with different points of views and give them a space to share their thoughts.
“It’s to get people in a room together and to encourage camaraderie and build friendships, so all of our work can be done more effectively,” Ocbe said.