How to Die Gracefully

Every comic who ever graced the stage has died at some point. Eddie Izzard is famous for doing it for years before finding his voice. Having an audience not laugh at your material is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a new comedian. It takes guts to get up on stage and getting nothing but silence back can knock your confidence and sometimes this can be enough to make even the most promising new comic quit there and then. So how do you recover from stage death?

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(Whiskey and crying go together like gin and…..crying)

1. Stay positive – It’s very easy to get out of a gig you’ve done badly at then immediately start telling yourself that you’re rubbish or you’re not good enough to be a comedian. This is one of many gigs you will do in your career and, trust me, one of hundreds more you’ll die at. Remember the gigs you’ve done well at.

2. Learn from it – What happened this time that was different to other gigs? If you’ve got a recording of it go over it and see where the audience does react. Is it how you stand? Is it your tone of voice? Is it the material itself? Comedians need to be open to changing aspects of their set if it’s not working properly.

3. Use any fee for something nice – If it’s a paid gig use the money to buy yourself something you want. You might not feel great about the gig but you’ll feel great about getting yourself a new DVD or pair of shoes. Turning the negative feelings you’ve got from the experience into a positive physical gift to yourself goes a long way to changing how you remember the night.

hookers-ball

(I remember an audience and then nothing but latex and lube, so much lube)

4. Call someone you trust – Immediately afterwards call someone you know will make you feel better about yourself. You need positive reinforcement and as a comedian it’s other people who usually give it to you. If you have a significant other call them, if you have an insignificant other call them, if you have a rival comedian who will give you gratuitous placations but secretly love hearing about your horrible experience call them. There and then all you need is to hear someone’s voice.

5. Never blame the audience – They came to see a comedy show and your stuff just didn’t tickle their fancy, that’s ok they are well within their rights to laugh or not laugh at whoever they want. It’s not their fault if you weren’t to their taste. This is something a lot of bad comedians choose to do in order to feel better about themselves but blaming the audience only stops you learning from the experience.

6. Success is about falling 16 times and getting up 17 times – No matter what you’ve heard from anyone there is no such thing as an overnight success. Even the youngest of comedians has spent 5 years honing their jokes and their performances then taking their routine to hundreds of audiences across the country. They will have failed as much as you have, maybe more, and the “overnight success” you’ve heard about is really just regular hard work. Every time you fail see it as one less time before you succeed.

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(Unless you’re parachuting)

7. Go home and write something – When you get back from the gig immediately pick up a pen and write something. At that moment you’re going to be feeling some pretty strong emotions and that is usually when a person is their most imaginative. Doesn’t matter what it is. You could write a blog about how the night went, a new piece of material based on the service station you stopped at or a poem about how jealous of the other acts you are. Whatever you do just get it out of you.

8. Sleep on it – You might find it hard to get to sleep after having a bad gig, I tend to stay up for the rest of the night rewriting things and trying to analyse where I went wrong but it’s never good for you to do that. Sleeping will help you process all the subconscious feelings you’ve had about the gig (shame, disappointment, arousal?) and give you more of an objective view about the whole event. You’ll feel a hell of a lot better in the morning.

9. Don’t dwell on it – If you don’t have any more gigs booked already then get some in your diary. You need to get back up on stage as quickly as possible to prove you can do it. It doesn’t matter what the gig is, open mic, headline slot, bar mitzvah, you just need to purge the bad one out of your system. You keep doing this and you’ll find you forget the bad ones as soon as you get off the stage.

Music students performing at Honourable Artillery companies web-480x309

(Or in fact as you perform them while the rain turns the ground underneath you into a dangerous blend of slippery and electrified)

10. You’re not alone – EVERY SINGLE COMEDIAN DIES. No matter how good they are, no matter how many gigs they do or where they do them they have died and they have died a lot. Comedians are creatures of ego and we try not to remember the bad ones so we don’t tell people about them but every one of us has died horribly at one time or another. If you’re not dying you’re not trying as one famous comic once said. You need to realise that not only have we all been there but we are all still there. Even the greats have bad days some times so you’re in good company.

And there you have it my top ten tips for new comedians on how to die gracefully and get over a bad gig. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to these so keep the feedback coming and if there’s a How To you’d like me to make let me know and I’ll try my best!

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How to Life as a Comedian

When I started out in comedy I had this image of what life would be like as a professional gagmerchant. Images of tours in foreign countries, fans chanting my name and having an aftershave named after me danced through my head. It became quickly apparent that while I could perform as much as I liked in foreign countries I could barely speak English, that a good proportion of fans would rather wear your skin than get your autograph and no one in the world wants to smell like me. It would have been helpful for someone to have taken me aside and told me what to expect so I thought I’d be that guy for some of you new guys.

Fat Jesus

(Like a chubby Jesus)

These are some of the lessons I’ve learned from life as a comedian so far. I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn but for now these are things I wish someone had told me right at the beginning.

1. Your social life will disappear  – Your comedy will become your social life. All that time you had before, evenings, weekends, bank holidays, that’s all going to disappear mainly because it’s exactly when comedy gigs are held. Any hobbies you had previously to this will go on hold as the time you used to have before is devoted to writing for, driving to and performing at gigs. You will think this is ridiculous but believe me when you spend most nights in bars performing to drunk people you stop wanting to be one of those drunk people and every night you’re not out with your mates you’re out performing to crowds of hundreds.

2. You’re going to lose friends – Prepare to lose a portion of your friends. You are embarking on a hobby/career that most people can’t understand but hold in awe. There are very few people who will be able to understand why you have cancelled going to their stag do because you finally got that try out spot at Jongleurs that you’ve been trying to get for a year. No one will understand that you do really want to go to their wedding but you’ve finally got an unpaid 10 slot at the comedy store on that Saturday and that’s a massive opportunity. You have worked years to finally get onto a TV level lineup in London on a weekend and no one is going to get why you go and do that for no money while they celebrate the union of their lives, they just won’t be able to understand the importance. This will drive a wedge between you and them. You can’t keep up the communication with them and when you do the things you used to talk about aren’t as important anymore. It’s not all doom and gloom you’ll make new friends but you are going to drift away from some of the ones who you thought were closest to you simply because they can’t understand your life anymore.

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(So you drive for two hours for no money and miss my son’s Bar Mitzvah! I JUST DON’T GET IT! Why couldn’t you have just stuck with the EDL, at least they only work during the day at weekends!)

3. A lot of people are going to be jealous  – People are going to be massively jealous of you, you’re doing something that people want to do and very few actually do (though it’s going to feel like everyone and their mother does standup). You’ll lose friends over it and people will tell you you’re crap on the internet because of it. They want what you have and the only way they can express it is negatively. This can be in a massive rant on facebook or just by never calling you back. It’s alright though you don’t really need people like that in your life, if they’re this way about a career change imagine what they’d have been like with you getting married or having a baby or coming out as gay. Ignore the jealousy, delete the messages and comments that make you feel bad and just get on with your life. Rise above it.

4. You’re going to get a lot of criticism – I’ve already written about jealousy and in fact I didn’t know if this should be in the same point. Negative criticism purely stems from jealousy. Whenever someone criticises you in a way that’s designed to make you feel bad it’s because they feel inferior to you and want to bring you down to their level. It’s hard to ignore, especially for comedians as we NEED other people to like us, but you have to put it to the back of your mind. You should see it as a positive, these people wish they had the life you have and they feel powerless. Feel sorry for them not you. Positive criticism should be accepted though. If someone, a peer or long term comedy industrialist for example, has a suggestion for your performance then listen to them and decide for yourself if it’s worth changing a joke here or being more energetic there. Some of my best stuff has come off the back of someone suggesting a tiny change.

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(And you’re sure this will improve my act? Why are you laughing? Oh it’s funny already! Then yeah sure get me on stage!)

5. You’re going to have some awesome adventures – You are going to do things people dream of doing and you’re going to do them for free or get paid to do them! You’re going to meet some of the biggest legends in comedy, you’re going to perform in 7 star hotels in Dubai and take full advantage of the facilities, you’re going to be onstage in front of 10,000 people introducing acts you would normally have to pay hundreds of pounds to see. You’re going to be invited to walk hundreds of miles with other comics then perform at the end of it. You’re going to be taken on boats across lochs. Most of all you’re going to be doing what you love and you’re going to be making people happier. That is the truth of the comedian’s life, it’s completely amazing.

6. You’re going to be poor – There’s no way around this you’re going to be poor for a while. When you start your comedy career you’re going to be driving all over the country doing open spots for nothing except the chance to do other spots in different places. You’ll be funding it yourself and it’s going to drain your resources. Then one day you’ll think “I can make a living out of this” or “my day job is interfering with me progressing my comedy career” and you’ll quit. At this point your main source of income will disappear leaving you with an unstable and unpredictable flow of money. Some months you’ll earn thousands, some months you’ll earn hundreds and some months you’ll end up begging your parents to pay your phone bill. It’s going to happen because it has to. Gradually your income will stabilise and you’ll get more and more from regular big clubs but initially you’ll have to tighten the purse strings and learn how to live on £15 a month’s worth of food.

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(Here we have the comedian’s triple. A breakfast, lunch and dinner combo that brings together both resilience to decay and lack of flavour, just add multivitamins to prevent nail and tooth loss)

7. Have jokes, will travel – You are going to do thousands of extra miles every year. You’re going to know exactly where Harpenden is when someone asks you because there’s a gig there. You’re going to be in so many service stations that you’ll start to have favourites (mine’s South Mimms on the M25, it’s just really nice). You’re going to travel abroad and see places you’ve only seen in holiday brochures. You’re going to stay in hotels you’ve only ever seen in James Bond movies. You’re also going to stay in B&Bs that look like they might have been used for a porn set 30 years ago and haven’t been cleaned since. Thing is you’ll go places that only performers get to go, it’s pretty incredible.

8. You’re going to be an example to your children – Remember when your parents said to you that you could be anything you wanted as long as you worked hard at it, didn’t matter if you wanted to be a rocket pilot, a ballerina or a neurosurgeon they would be proud of you for living your dream. Remember them saying that then going and working in a soul crushing job that gradually made them hate themselves more and more until finally they retired and had nothing but work’s christmas parties to be nostalgic about from their working life? Remember that? You’re going to be the exact opposite. When you tell your kids that they can be anything they want you’ll be living proof of it.

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(Well almost anything I mean cut the crazy in half before you push them into the world dressed as a zoo animal)

9. You’re going to meet the best and worst of humanity – Be they drunk punters in the back room of the bar or an anonymous comment on an internet forum you’re going to be exposed to the worst people society has to offer and you’ll have to learn to deal with them. You will also be meeting the best humanity has to offer. Priests, soldiers, other comedians, heroes of stage and screen you’re going to meet them all eventually. You’re putting yourself up there on a pedestal and people will take notice, some negatively and some positively.

10. You’re going to change as a person, for the better – Being a comedian means doing a lot of things contrary to our natural instincts. Standing and talking about ourselves to hundreds of people is against everything you’re told to do growing up. Telling everyone how great you are all the time and remaining positive publicly are things that we don’t really know how to do. When bad things happen to you you’re going to have to be seen to overcome them with grace and learn from them, breaking down and losing it will destroy all your hard work in building your career so you put on a brave face and you march on. You know what? You become that kind of person. When you force yourself to overcome obstacles and look for the lessons in failure you actually become the kind of person that does that. You’ll realise you can pretty much get through anything. When you look back years into your career at the life you had before you’ll realise that now you have it so much better simply because you know how to get the most out of everything. Bill Cosby said “You can turn painful situations around with laughter. If you can find humour in anything you can survive it”.  It’s a little bit of magic.

So there you have it my top ten tips I wish someone had told me for new comedians. I love writing these and the response to them has been overwhelming so I hope you enjoyed this and I look forward to hearing your feedback!

How to MC

MC, Host, Compere. However you want to look at it the Compere is one of the two most important people on the lineup. With a good compere and an excellent headliner you can have a fantastic night even if the audience don’t get on board with all of your other acts.

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(Ohhh Edgy)

I’ve hosted everything from Burlesque nights to high end corporate functions to backroom comedy shows. I used to run a weekly night and have been resident compere at several different comedy gigs, currently I’m one of the resident comperes for Castle Comedy, and there are a few things I’ve learned that the host can do which make the night run a lot better. This article should really be read after this one as you’re a comedian and both will really apply.

1. Meet the acts – You’re going to be introducing these guys/girls throughout the night so you need to know them well enough to make sure you’ve got the crowd to their level. Make sure you know all of their names and how they’re pronounced, make sure you know if they want to introduced a specific way and make sure you’re friendly with them.

2. Meet the audience – The host should go out and meet the people as they come through the door. Get to know the crowd, chat to them and show them to their seats. Make some jokes with them, flirt with the ladies and congratulate the men on their dress sense. By getting the audience on your side BEFORE the show starts you’re going to have a much easier time when the curtain rises. You may even get material from them that you can use so you’re not saying “anyone had a birthday this week?” and getting confused silence back.

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(No but my brother died yesterday! He would have wanted me to be here – True story)

3. Talk to the venue staff – You’re going to be running the show when the lights come up so knowing who to talk to if something goes wrong can make the night run smoothly. Microphone stops working? You can shout for Steve. Lights too bright? That’ll be Dave. Mouth Dry? Tania. Also it gets the staff invested in the evening. When you ask them if they can stop serving at the bar while the acts are on they’ll be onside already.

4. Communicate with the promoter – A lot of the time the promoter won’t be there and you’ll be left to run the night on your lonesome so make sure you know what order they want the acts in and any other special requests before the show starts. Usually a promoter will want websites mentioned or next month’s show advertised and again these things keep the club running.

5. Don’t be a c*nt – the show starts and you get a heckler straight off the bat. They’ve either had too much to drink or they’re showing off because really no one in a sane mindset would shout randomly at a stranger, at a comedy show it’s acceptable but if you did it on a bus you’d be arrested. You’re justifiably angry at the interruption but keep your cool, politely talk to them about calming down and make some casual jokes about it. DON’T tear into them aggressively on the first interruption. The audience don’t know you and you don’t know them yet. Getting aggressive on the first interruption will create tension in the room which will make it harder for everyone to enjoy the night. My favourite way of dealing with hecklers is asking them who they are showing off for as it immediately forces dialogue passively. Obviously some people are too drunk or too crazy to deal with and that’s when you have them ejected from the show.

Kiefer Sutherland

(Isn’t there a bus you should be shouting at somewhere?!)

6. Dress smartly – I’ve said it in other articles but I think when you compere it’s a must. You’ve got to dress for the part. If you’re playing a character then dress in their garb but otherwise wear smart clothes. The audience will assume you’re a professional if you’re dressed like one and it also distinguishes you from them. While it might sound like a great idea on paper for the audience to relate to you in casual dress, it looks like you just walked out of a local pub after buying a stolen flatscreen. In practise it stops them from seeing the barrier between you and them, you’re more likely to be heckled and less likely to get answers. Psychologically the audience will feel like you’re in control more if you don’t look like the person who sells them cigarettes. You wouldn’t trust a surgeon or solicitor in a hoody and you definitely wouldn’t trust a one handed mechanic in a tutu, they may be the best at what they do but they look like they have no idea.

crossdresser

(Yeah I can see your problem, you’ve got a cracked waste pipe leading from the main drainage. Hang on this gusset is killing me)

7. Write some bespoke material – You’ll have a couple of hours at some point before the show so take a look into the background of the town you’re in or club you’re at. Audiences love it when you talk about them and things they know. In bigger cities this is more about writing topical stuff, bringing up news articles or recent events will get a much bigger response and shouldn’t tread on any of the other acts’ toes. Also this is a great opportunity to exercise your writing abilities which you wouldn’t normally get to do as a standard performer.

8. Remember the names/details of your audience – If you’ve got a guy in the audience who makes up the flavours of ice cream for Ben and Jerry’s then you’ve got a cracker of a character to go back to. Mostly you’re not going to be that lucky but if you meet Dawn in the front row she’s a teacher and there’s a strike about to happen with the union, there’s a host of stuff you can say about that and it’s an easy way to get people on side. If you’re constantly remembering and referencing people from the audience throughout the show they’re going to have a much more special experience. These are the things that get people going to live comedy again and again. The relationship between audience and compere is a romantic one, you’re flirting with them and making them feel special and they’re giving you their undivided attention. Think of it like that and you can’t go wrong.

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(This is too far though, keep a bit more distance. You want to be a tease not a slut)

9. Don’t get drunk – I mean this should be obvious right? Don’t get drunk while doing your job, should be a given but really it’s easy to do exactly the opposite. Most of the time the venue serves alcohol and a lot of the time we get free drinks because the venue want to show their appreciation. This is all lovely and how it should be but you are the host. You’re in control of the night and if you lose control the night is going to fail. Think of it like you’re the babysitter and these are your children, keep them safe from the ravages of boredom and don’t throw up on them after you’ve said “FUCKING BALLSACKS!” at the top of your voice.

10. Thank everyone – When wrapping up at the end of the night make sure you’re giving whatever notices the promoter has asked you to, website, next show, twitter etc, and thank everyone by name. Thank the venue staff, thank the promoters and then individually thank each of the audience members you’ve interacted with during the course of the evening. Make sure that during the night you’ve made little notes about them so you can refer back later. You won’t believe how much better you look just by doing this. Not only do you look like a consummate professional but they go home feeling like part of the show.

(Awww he’s got the warm fuzzies)

Annnnnddd that’s it ladies and gentlemen, my top ten tips for new comedians on how to be a great MC. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it and I love it when you guys give me feedback so let me know what you thought.

Snotty noses and late nights

I am exhausted today after a combination of long, late night journeys and a child vomiting at 2am so I won’t be posting anything too substantial. Tomorrow I’ll be posting a “How to MC” article but for now enjoy this lovely article from Cracked about people who have saved the day while dressed as Superheroes

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(I was going to post a link to injuries obtained while sexual roleplaying as superheroes but I thought this was more feel good)

How to Small Gigs

You’re excited. It’s Friday night and all week you’ve been looking forward to performing. You booked the gig weeks ago and other comedians who’ve done it tell you the audience is great and you’ll love it. You’ve even pushed yourself a little bit and written a new joke or two, the elation is intoxicating. The whole drive there you’re going over the material in your head, preparing yourself for the inevitable applause breaks from the hundreds of semi sober punters clapping your cleverness.

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(No stop come on guys oh go on then just 3 more minutes of applause!)

You pull up to the postcode the promoter has given you. This can’t be right can it? This doesn’t look big enough to house the seething masses you’ve been told attend this venue. You glance across the street hoping to see the neon signs of Geoff’s Comedy Extravaganza but the burnt out husk of a Ford Capri stares at you sadly. Appearances can be deceiving, never judge a book by its cover and all that, inside it could have a specifically designed music hall and multi million pound sound system. You push open the cracked door of The Drum and Dog hoping for a sudden explosion of crowd noise. You’re greeted by a half blind farmer, a barman and two sick greyhounds. The barman says “Hi, I’m Geoff! glad you could make it! We’ve got a much bigger crowd this week Old Terry had to bring his other dog too!”. Disappointment hits you like a Miley Cyrus mounted wrecking ball. You can’t possibly do well at this gig, can you?

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(So you want us to stand actually on the snooker table right?)

The answer is you can. When I was starting out I did hundreds of these gigs across the UK, all new comedians do, always for free and always just to get some performance time. It was disheartening because I immediately thought “what’s the point?” but this is a guide for new comedians just to give some tips on how to use small gigs to your advantage.

1. A gig’s a gig – You got booked for a gig, that means other people applied and didn’t get the spot you applied for. It may not seem like much but you should be proud of the fact that someone chose you to perform at their venue. When you think of it like that you’ve already got one audience member you know wants you there.

2. New material – small gigs are the best for improving new material or honing your better set pieces. The setting is so intimate that you can physically see what impact your material is having on the individuals in that audience. So what if there’s only 4 people there? You’ll have to work a bit harder but it’ll feel better when you win them over.

3. Practise MCing – this is an excellent opportunity to practise talking to the audience and using things they say to make up material on the fly. There’s 4 people there you can get through them quickly enough, you may even have material that relates back to what they’re saying. If that’s the case you’ll look like a master comedian and suddenly you’re a hero. When people are so close they can taste your eyes they tend to feel obliged to respond to any questions they get asked.

4. Ask the audience  – Be they the bar manager, the promoter or the blind farmer talk to all of them through the night. You don’t know which of them is going to be able to give you an opportunity in the future. The promoter may end up running all of the corporate bookings for Virgin’s Christmas parties, he’ll remember the guy who was friendly and confident when he was starting out. The farmer may be the guy who rents out his fields to a huge festival and one of the caveats is they have to book you to host the comedy stage, all because you told him you hoped his dogs got better. BOOM.

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(or got his daughter pregnant by accident. Either way a gig’s a gig)

5. Don’t be lazy – Just because there’s 4 people there doesn’t mean you shouldn’t perform anything but the best. The other guys on the bill are watching your performance too and again you never know when one of them is going to run their own gig or need someone to support them on their first tour.

6. Be enthusiastic – If you’re excited about performing and showing that energy on stage it’ll be infectious. No matter how many people are watching you they’re going to get on board if they think you’re genuinely excited to be there. For them this is their only night out and they’ve got themselves all doled up and got a babysitter so give them the experience they’ve been expecting not a self obsessed ego rant about how small the place is and how you should have stayed at home, remember you’re there doing a job so do it properly.

7. Support the other acts – You love it when you hear people laughing at your stuff and you’re performing so why should that be any different when someone else is on stage. A small gig can seem bigger if all the acts are getting involved too. Laugh loudly, clap at the best bits and reply when the guy on stage asks a question after all it IS a comedy night and why shouldn’t you have some fun too. Same goes for when they come off stage, talk to them about their set, let them know how much you liked it and genuinely enjoy the show.

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(No you were funnier! No you were! No you were! Yes actually you’re right I was)

8. Have fun – Sounds stupid but this is your hobby enjoy doing it, be positive about the experience and don’t focus on the negatives. Try things you wouldn’t normally do in other shows like silly voices, character pieces or poems. It’s a perfect time to try something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the opportunity to.

9. Thank them – People aren’t stupid, they can see that 3 guys and a duck isn’t an audience. It’s the setting for a new american sitcom. They’ll appreciate the courtesty if you thank them for the opportunity and thank the audience for taking the time to come out. If those 3 guys tell their friends and bring families next time the gig is going to grow. The duck can fuck off.

10. Be realistic – sometimes a gig just isn’t going to work. I once showed up to a gig with 9 other comics in the middle of the West Midlands and they’d advertised it for a different night. There was literally just the promoter there. In this scenario there’s not much we you can do as a comedian so the lot of us decided to have a bit of a laugh and a workshop. We ended up doing each other’s material and enjoying the night. There are some shows you just can’t perform at and telling the promoter, in a friendly and helpful way, how to improve the gig will probably get you on better terms with him. If you help him make the gig into something bigger and better next time you come back you’ll be playing to a much better room.

There you have it 10 tips for new comics to help do well and enjoy small gigs. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it and let me know if it’s helped you with your performance. Don’t tell me if it’s aroused your sexual desire though, there’s somethings I don’t want to know.

How to Promoter

My last post was an article on what to do to get the basics of being a good standup comedian right. I got a lot of great feedback from you guys and thought I’d write it from the other side. I’ve been a promoter, in fact that’s how I started out in comedy, and up until recently I’ve been running some great comedy gigs. They take a lot of work and I’ve had to stop running regular stuff because I’ve focused purely on standup, that and the kids.

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(Plus why would I waste this backstage?)

However having been a promoter I’ve seen what great gigs look like and what it takes to run them so here is ten things a great promoter should do.

1. Promote the night properly – Everyone has facebook sure but really how often do you click yes on the button next to the event invitation then go to the event in question, probably never. You click the button so the other person doesn’t hate you but really you’re never going to go. The same applies to comedy nights. You need to use methods outside of the internet as well as social media. Get the papers involved, run a radio competition, go flyering in all your local businesses, do a publicity stunt where you have people telling jokes in the street. Do everything you can to make sure as many people as possible know about it.

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(Free replacement eardrums with every two tickets sold!!)

2. Layout the room properly – Don’t have tables. Seriously you may think it adds a bit of class to the proceedings but unless you’re hosting a charity gala with Jack Dee as the main speaker those tables are going to turn each group into an ambient hecklefest. Make sure everyone can see the comedians don’t expect them to have Superman like xray vision and position chairs behind posts. I would say the best type of seating is in rows facing the stage with adequate room for people to get out quietly for toilet breaks, this way everyone sees the show and the bar sells more drinks (people drink more when they can’t put their glasses down).

3. Book your lineups carefully – There is an art to creating a lineup. You need to start with some high energy stuff to get the room going, keep it up until the first break then take it down a notch afterwards. The headliner then gets to bask in the glory of a comfortably warm room that’s been exposed to different types of comedy. Putting a one liner comic on first who only speaks in a monotone will make it harder for the rest of the comics.

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(Tough crowd)

4. Be nice to the acts – Yeah sure you’re paying these guys to be funny but your night is their workplace and if you’re going to be a serious promoter it’s yours too! Don’t ignore them when they arrive then grunt them onto the stage, stare at them mirthlessly with arms crossed as they perform then pay them £10 less than you promised because you fancy a curry on the way home. You want to have a good reputation with performers as much as they do with you, if people are saying you’re fantastic and run a great night you’ll get a much higher level of comedian applying.

5. Pay your acts – A lot of shows have open spots in the middle trying out for the bigger paid stuff I suggest giving them something towards their travel even if they are there specifically to show off to you. It’s just a thank you for helping the night go smoothly and it’ll be good if they can afford a motorway burger on the 3 hour trip back to wherever they drove from. Again you never know who’ll become the next Lee Evans so it’s a nice idea to be on good terms with everyone. Free beer is a lovely idea but if the act drives it’s like offering children cigarettes.

(Addiction is an ugly sight)

6. Co-operate with other local comedy nights – Any entertainment show is going to be in direct competition with all the others in the area but it’s in yours and their best interests if you work together. Make sure you’ve not all got the same acts on the same weeks to avoid people having to choose one show over the other. Instead work with other promoters, if you’re not on the same nights you can promote each other’s shows or even help at the gig!

7. Make sure the venue is invested – So many promoters have the problem that they love comedy but the pub they have their night in just wants people in drinking their booze and playing slot machines until their probation officer finds them. They’ll replace your beloved comedy night with a rock and roll bingo if they think it will put more bums on seats so get them invested in the night. Book comics you know they’ll like, get them doing the promoting by giving them posters for their venue and make sure they meet the performers on the night.

DisgruntledBartender

(Your night’s been cancelled, Alcoholics Anonymous wanted the room)

8.Make ticket sales easy – Put your own mobile number on the flyers and website for the show so people can call in and reserve their seats. When they call in take their email and phone number then drop them a confirmation email after the call. The day of the show give them a courtesy call just to remind them of their reservation. Get a local business involved so they can sell tickets on the high street. Sell tickets online. The easier it is to buy tickets the more people will come.

9. Allocate seating – Not something most clubs do but where it’s done it’s the best thing for the night. People automatically avoid the front rows, if they’re guided to specific seats they’re stuck wherever you’ve put them AND they feel like they’ve had a personal touch to the evening. It’s a no brainer.

100651-stock-photo-joy-break-theatre-cinema-audience-seating

(Great seat choice honey. Now we won’t get picked on and we can laugh at the woman who does!)

10. ENJOY IT – You’ve put a lot of hard work into making the night run smoothly, enjoy it! Watch the comedians and laugh, talk to the audience members during the breaks and just have a great time playing host. There are clubs around the country where the main reason people come back is because of the lovely host making them feel welcome.

And there you have it. My top ten tips for New Promoters to make their new night great. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it and I hope you enjoy running your night as much as I enjoy performing at it.

paulwe32

(It’s going to be off the hook!)