One of the local comedy clubs in my area is trying out doing all ages, family friendly afternoon shows and they had me do their test show! I’ve known the owner for probably a decade, so I wanted this to succeed! If they do it monthly, quarterly or whatever it’s good for local variety performers as it’s more local work!
I do try to promote every show I do, however sometimes it’s just a calendar listing and sometimes it’s more. This one I worked a bit harder to help sell tickets. For this show I worked my email list, and social media a bit harder and much to my surprise I managed to sell out the show!
When it comes to promoting a show, there’s a lot that goes into deciding how hard to promote it. Some of the factors are:
-How high profile the show is: A comedy club, theater or TV appearance sounds more prestigious to the general public than a rural library. That doesn’t mean that the rural library is any less important, in fact I’d say that the rural library is a more important show for the community. That may be the only chance that community has to see a live show. However me promoting that rural library really hard, probably won’t change the attendance.
-Do I have a financial stake in the show? If it’s a show where I’m four walling it, or get a percentage of tickets sales instead of a flat fee, then I need to hustle the show a bit more.
-Do I have a personal stake in the show? Some shows you have a personal reason that you want them to succeed. Like it’s a fundraiser for a cause that’s close to your heart, it’s a gig run by a friend, or whatever.
Also anytime you promote a show, you are marketing to a general audience. It’s the old advice that the more people see your name the more likely they’ll book you.
When I was 21 years old, I started performing in comedy clubs. I really came up through the open mic system. As a young comic you’re taught that stage time is more precious than gold. The more you go up, the quicker you get better.
The other day I was at a booking conference for the fair industry and the bar at the host hotel had a comedy night the day I was there!
I sent a text to a friend to find out who books the room, then a text to the booker and I ended up doing a guest set in the show!
The needing to have stage time is still in my blood! This also had a positive effect at the booking conference. When you checked into the hotel, the front desk really pitched you the show that night as it’s “free to hotel guests”, so everyone attending knew it was happening. As word got around later that night that I ducked out of dinner to do some comedy, I had people coming up to me asking me if I really did that. It lead to me meeting some people I probably wouldn’t have! It also cemented in bookers minds who haven’t seen me showcase in the past as what I do and that I’m actually funny.
When I was first starting out performing in comedy clubs in the early 2000’s I had to use a wired handheld microphone. As I progress through my career, I switched to a wireless headset. I’m now playing with going back to being able to do my show with a wired handheld microphone. The main reason is that it’s logistically easy. I don’t need to travel with my own gear, and it also makes trying out new stuff and open mic’s much easier.
I’m performing all month doing three shows a day at a fair, and aside from working on some new material, I’m also trying to relearn to use a handheld microphone. My preshow right now is a stand up set of jokes, which runs about 7 minutes, and I’m now doing that all with the handheld mic. I’m still wearing my headset during this, but using the handheld.
Right now my goal is every day to move the handheld one bit further into the show. Right now, I have my preshow stand up set, my two new “preshow” tricks and then first actual trick in the show all done with the handheld. The next routine is really three tricks in one routine. I was dreading figuring out how to add the handheld microphone to it as parts of it are pretty physical. Then it hit me, I need to look at it as three tricks, not one routine. Once I broke it down that way, it’s much easier to start figuring out how to do it with a handheld microphone.
I was chatting with the sound engineer at my stage about what microphone to get and he suggested the Shure SM58S. This is the version of the Shure SM58, but it has an on/off switch which is something I want. Right now if I’m jumping back and forth between the headset and the handheld, I need that switch so that I’m not being picked up by both mics.
If you’ve never used a handheld, I suggest you learn how, it’ll be helpful the one time your headset dies right before showtime.
Back when I first really started performing when I was about 21 years old and got to the point that I needed headshots, the digital thing was just becoming common. People were amazed that I had an email address, just to put this into context. At that time you sent off the negative of your pic to a place that then made you hundreds of physical 8×10’s and the cost was hundreds of dollars.
At that time many performers didn’t really get new pics taken until you ran out of the old ones because they were soo expensive to get done. Because of that they guy whose picture was on the comedy club’s ad for the show that weekend didn’t look anything like the comedian who was performing. The headshots were sometimes 10-20 years old!
Now let’s fast forward to a common problem in more modern times with no one using physical headshots anymore. What’s happening now is that someone books a show, you send them promo and they end up using a picture they found on the internet. It’s usually a old, low-res picture that’s not very flattering instead of the current, professional high-res picture you send them.
I just finished dealing with a scenario with this. Someone I work for frequently has been using this headshot of me. The thing is that picture is about 20 years old, and I’m about 20 years old in the picture. I send them new pictures every year, but this remains the picture that’s been used.
Finally, yesterday after being on the phone with them, I think I convinced them to delete that picture from their files and it really hasn’t been relevant in over a decade. I think my problem is that while I have been sending them new promo every year, I never specifically asked them to stop using that picture.
Right now I’m at a showcase for performers and last night a friend of mine performed. He uses larger props in his magic show. He does things like balloon to dove, dove to rabbit and walking thru a plate of steel. It’s crazy how much bigger his show feels than mine does. Using larger props … Continue reading “Bigger Props…”
Right now I’m at a showcase for performers and last night a friend of mine performed. He uses larger props in his magic show. He does things like balloon to dove, dove to rabbit and walking thru a plate of steel. It’s crazy how much bigger his show feels than mine does.
Using larger props really fills the stage. In a show like mine, it’s just me and some hand held props. I think that my early days performing in comedy clubs and cabaret shows really molded how I perform. In those venues you really can’t have big props. Even something like a table is a lot of real estate on a tiny stage.
I’ve learned to make small props play larger (usually). For an act like mine, that’s important, keeping the props to a minimum. I want to the show to feel less formal and having large props makes it feel way too formal for me.
If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of comedy magician Nick Lewin. He was one of the magicians that I saw as a teenager and his style shaped how I perform. He’s someone that had pretty much done it all as a magician. Recently he was on the The Variety Artist Podcast … Continue reading “Fantastic Information!”
If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of comedy magician Nick Lewin. He was one of the magicians that I saw as a teenager and his style shaped how I perform. He’s someone that had pretty much done it all as a magician.
He gives a ton of great advice on all aspects of your show. One of the things that I really liked is he mentioned that comedians and comedy magicians have a different definition of what performing “comedy” means.
Most comedy magicians thing performing comedy in a comedy club means being dirty. That’s couldn’t be further from the truth. Performing comedy in a comedy club should mean you have original material. Jokes that move a plot forward. Yes, you can have limited success doing store bought tricks, but at some point to really progress you need to write material!