Here's another set of decorum questions I'd like to put out there. Say you're attending an open mike at a coffee house, like I am tonight. And you want to read a poem. Putting aside all circumstances that vary--i.e. any guidelines that the director may have concerning "maximum mike time," the number of people in line to read, etc.--what is the longest time one should be up there? And if the piece requires an introduction, how long can the introduction be?
Third, and most interesting, question: I've found that some of my poems are better read aloud than read on paper, and vice versa. When at an open mike, should I present something that's funny and likely to be crowd-pleasing (even if it's somewhat shallow), or something that's more intellectually substantial but might be hard to get--i.e. unless the audience has a copy of the poem in their hands, it's likely that all the symbolism and metaphors will wash over their heads.
When I presented this question to my writing group, the unanimous agreement was to go for the crowd-pleaser... or, as one person said, "You can do the other thing if you like, but know what it is you're doing," i.e. don't be surprised if the audience blinks at you like sheep.
Comments and/or illustrative anecdotes from my fellow bloggers would be much appreciated.