Some of you may have noticed that I’m becoming quite busy the more my career progresses. I’m still not a full time comic and I have many other responsibilities to take care of on a day-to-day basis, yet I still manage to book a number of paid gigs every week. People (especially other comics at my level) always ask me how I do it. There surely isn’t an abundance of quality stage time and opportunities in the area I currently live in and I don’t have a booking manager dedicated to filling my schedule for me. So here it is: a quick guide to young comics like myself looking to grow and get more work.
1. Be proactive. Actively seek out new performance opportunities. This stuff isn’t just gonna fall in your lap. Do some research. I spend hours just looking up new clubs and showcases. I email a dozen bookers each month with my contact info and a link to one of my performance videos. Most of the time I don’t hear back at all. These bookers get hundreds of emails from eager comics every week and honestly they probably don’t even look at my stuff, but that’s ok. It’s worth the work for that one that does see me and offers a spot on a show. And the rest… I’ll email them again next month. Stay aggressive and don’t give up!
2. Be humble. You’re just starting out for Christ’s sake! You did a couple of open mics and maybe you even got booked for a paid gig on one local showcase. So now you get cocky and you have this idea of how much money you should be making every time you get on stage. Reel it in superstar! You’ve still got a lot more work to put in before you start making high demands. Big payouts are gonna come few and far between in your first couple of years. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve taken a lot of gigs where I barely broke even after you factor in traveling expenses. I never turn my nose up at these opportunities because I always assess the situation and look at the bigger picture. I’ll do a poorly paying gig if I believe there is a chance it could lead to a much better opportunity. Some of my best paying gigs were booked as the immediate result of a gig where I made little to nothing and that bigger payday wouldn’t have happened if I turned down the first gig because I thought it was beneath me.
3. Be prompt. Always be on time for your shows. And by on time, I mean be early. I usually aim to arrive at least an hour before show time. Not only will the producer appreciate this and not have to worry about hunting you down 5 mins before the show starts, but it also benefits you. Arriving early gives you a chance to relax before the show starts. You’ll perform much better that night after you’ve had some time to shake off the anxiety. I could go on and on about the benefits of arriving on time, but I’ll save that for another blog. For now, just do it because it’s the professional thing to do and you don’t want to build a reputation for being the late guy. Word of mouth goes a really long way. Which brings me to my next point…
4. BE POLITE! Treat everyone at the venue with respect. That goes for the owners/managers, wait staff, crowd, and other performers. People want to work with nice people. And not that phony kind of nice where you’re just pretending to be nice because you expect people to do favors for you in return. Just genuinely be polite because it’s the right way to live your life in general even if you weren’t trying to secure future bookings. Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you’re a pleasure to work with, comics and producers will recommend you for other gigs. On the flip side, no matter how funny you are, no one is gonna book you if you’re known for being a jerk and people can’t stand to be around you for more than 5 mins. So just don’t be a dick and it could really help out your career in the long run.
Bonus: Be funny! It almost goes without saying, but I didn’t really want to list this because I really don’t think your talent level is the most important aspect when it comes to getting booked. But at the end of the day, the name of the game is comedy so you’ve gotta bring the funny! After all, people are paying money to come and laugh so the people who have the best ability to make them laugh will usually get booked more often. Being funny will only get you so far though. It’s only a single piece of a much larger pie. Comedy is very subjective and what’s funny to some may not be funny to others. There’s always a crowd that will relate to a certain type of humor as long as you have a polished delivery of your material and a stage presence that makes them believe you actually belong on stage.
So to wrap it up. Here’s what a young comic has to do to get booked. Be proactive. Be humble. Be prompt.
Don’t be a dick! Be polite! And be funny! Sounds simple, right? Yes, I know there’s much more to it than that, but follow these key ground rules for a good start. By no means do I have all of the answers so please don’t yell at me Kanye! I’m still figuring it all out myself, but I’m no hater and I wanna pass my tips on to anyone else who needs help. Subscribe to my blog and I will be writing more informative pieces like this going forward. Any topic suggestions are gladly welcomed!