(photo credit: Thinkstock)

(photo credit: Thinkstock)

Chances are good that you or someone you know has a flare for singing, telling jokes or writing poems, even if their day job has nothing to do with those creative outlets. In a city of Houston’s size, there’s no shortage of amateur talent. Fortunately, there are plenty of places where Houston residents can share those talents with friendly crowds. These five venues have established excellent amateur night traditions. There is no cost to perform, and all of them can make for a fun night out for spectators.

Avant Garden
411 Westheimer St.
Houston, TX 77006
(832) 519-1429

For the past 17 years, local singers and songwriters have made their way to Avant Garden on Tuesday evenings to perform acoustic numbers. The performance space itself makes Avant Garden a compelling place to sing. The three-story house dates back more than 100 years and has a rich history. Any musician can perform on Open Mic Night by signing up at 7 p.m. Performances run from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. There’s no charge to watch, and drink specials for the night are $2 Lone Star pints and $3 mixed drinks.

Related: Best Open Mic Venues In Houston

1520 West Main St.
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 521-9821

If you’d like to share your poetry but don’t really care for the bar or coffee shop scene, a good venue is Inprint on the first Friday of every month. Located in the Museum District, the mission of Inprint is to inspire readers and writers in Houston. Since 1975, Inprint has hosted the “First Friday” series of poetry readings, making it the oldest poetry series in the city. The night starts with a feature poet at 8:30 p.m., but then the microphone is turned over to anyone wishing to share their work. Admission is free, so it’s a good chance to hear both professional and amateur poets without running up a bill.

Improv Houston
7620 Katy Freeway, #455
Houston, TX 77055
(713) 333-8800

“A” list comedians routinely take the stage on the weekends at Improv Houston, but on selected Wednesday nights, the floor is open to locals wanting to share their own comic material. Rising stars and neighborhood humorists take the same stage as the pros during the comedy club’s Open Mic nights. To participate, send an email to openmicimprov@gmail.com on the Wednesday a week before the show, and club staff will you know if your in three days later. Open mic night is also a great chance to watch comedians at a reduced cost. Tickets are only $3 and college students get in free.

McGonigel’s Mucky Duck
2425 Norfolk St.
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 528-5999

The name may conjure up images of a funny after-school cartoon, but when it comes to amateur night performances, McGonigel’s Mucky Duck is no laughing matter. Unless of course a comedian is on stage. Comedians have joined musicians, poets, jugglers and even mimes in performing the past 23 years. The action starts at 6:30 p.m. every Monday. Each performer can sing three songs or perform for 15 minutes. There’s no cover to watch, and once in awhile well-known performers drop by to test out some new material.

Related: Best Places To Discover New Music In Houston

Acadia Bar & Grill
3939 Cypress Creek Parkway
Houston, TX 77068
(281) 893-2860

While the television show “Cheers” is set in Boston, the staff at Acadia Bar & Grill have modeled their north Houston neighborhood bar off that same friendly vibe. On Thursdays, the stage is open to all amateur musicians for open jam night. The rock band Bateman Red plays host for the evening and invites anyone to come share their musical skills with the audience. The sound systems has drawn good reviews, so bring your best material. Rounding out the night is $3 Mexican beers, $5 pitchers and steaks on the grill.

Jeremy Shapiro is a freelance writer in the Houston area. While his trombone rendition of “Black in Back” isn’t terrible, his 10 years in journalism have left him better equipped to write about music, nightlife and other entertainment outings. His work can be found on Examiner.com.