A very active post went up in one the comedy “community” pages I’m a member of about local bookers or fellow comics using the same people. By the time I read it, there were over 400 comments, mostly rage-filled insults and debate, so I didn’t comment, but thought it may make an interesting post, even for non-comics, so here goes.
Be funny. Surprisingly, most comics who are “funny” get more shows than comics who are “not funny.” By making people “laugh” as opposed to “sit silently” or “heckle” or “get up during the set and mutter obscenities under their breath,” you may tend to see more work! (This post works best for sarcasm if you make the hand gestures for sarcasm for the quotations.)
Run a show. It is truly amazing when you book people for shows, they tend to book you back! CRAZY! It’s almost like a strange you scratch my back, I scratch yours agreement.
Bring people out and promote the shows you are on. I know this is nuts, but bookers tend to like people who advertise, promote and hustle to get butts in seats. I have a show where I book comedians and I have already mentally banned a few that made zero effort to even post one post online about the show, even when I specifically asked them to. I had a comedian refuse to post about a show I booked this person on, but the day of, manage to find time to promote another show instead that was an open mic.
Show up late to shows you’re on, not even take 4 seconds to click attending on Facebook events, or go over your time. In other words, don’t be a problem. Booking an event is tough; you have consider who is on the show, balance it with other comics, set up the event and hope the turnout is good. One easy way to make sure you aren’t part of the equation is to cause stress.
Get smashed before your set…or after and cause a scene. That tends to annoy those who book shows. (See above: don’t be a problem.) Of course, causing a scene sober also will make sure you don’t get booked. I watched a comedian get onstage at an open mic, insult the crowd, then remove his pants. He never did stand-up again in Columbus, that I saw.
Fail to memorize your set or do the same five minutes for years. I booked a lot of comics over the years at various rooms and one thing that blows my mind is how many comedians cry about not getting stage time, but have literally five minutes only. Five minute set for late night shows – good. Everywhere else? Write more material. Then practice the material. Sometimes you may not get booked because the booker knows your set to a tee and it may not work in the room (or may not be long enough for what they want). I have done over an hour a handful of times. That gives you multiple more opportunities than having five minutes about jello or politics that you’ve been doing since 2012.
Even worse – be unprepared and try to riff. If you’re getting paid, do your best stuff. You’re not George Carlin. Don’t get up there and rant with no direction. I had two comedians in particular that I remember doing that at a show I run. Both bombed miserably, one even getting destroyed by a heckler. You have five minutes. Don’t waste it.
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