Saturday Tips: Basic Guidelines for Moving Up
Part 1: Basic Guidelines for Moving Up In Comedy
Tip #2 2018
When you're starting out in the stand-up comedy world it's important to have a clear understanding of the various levels of achievement that you can aim for. Think of this as a comedy goal checklist or career blueprint. I suggest writing it out and putting it somewhere you'll see everyday, so you're regularly reminded of what to be working on. This is a list of increasing steps that will allow you to chart your progress, success and new goals to aim for. A key part of this blueprint is acknowledging that you need to find additional places to perform at that are not New Talent/bringer shows and open mics (yes, I, the New Talent Director at Gotham am telling you to find more shows). It can be difficult to consistently get people for bringers, and open mics aren't realistic audiences giving you legit feedback. SO, you need to expand your performing options.
These are all simple steps that you can implement to help get you closer to becoming a working comic. I've listed each item in order of importance.
"Guest spot on a bar show"
#1 Be nice to everyone.
Even at a bar show, you might be auditioning for someone who isn't even on your radar. Be kind to everyone because you never know who's booking shows (also, being kind is just the right thing to do!) Everyone wants to work with people who are nice. Here's a scenario-- you might be at a New Talent show and someone who runs a bar show sees your set then meets you afterward. Because you were nice AND funny, they decide to offer you a guest spot on their show. Congrats! That's step #1 on your chart. If it's not a bringer or an open mic, you just got your first guest spot. This is significant - it's validation of your comedic abilities, and means you're likeable. It's a wonderful thing for someone to like your comedy enough to give you stage time on their show.
#2 Be understanding of the producer.
Always be understanding of a producer's, club manager's or owner's needs and accommodate them. It can be stressful keeping track of several comedians while running a show, so being sympathetic and kind to the producer goes a long way. Comedians who don't show respect to anyone but themselves struggle to get booked again.
#3 Be on time.
If, for whatever reason, you're not on time, make sure to apologize to the person who booked you. Don't let it happen again. Some people underestimate how important being on time is in the club's (or booker, producer) overall view of the comics. Comics who are notoriously late don't get rebooked. Even if they're funny. Some comics think that being really funny means they can show up whenever they want. Wrong. Managers want comics who are reliable and easy to work with. Reliability and consistency are more important to a club owner than simply being the funniest guy.
#4 Don't go long.
Don't do it! Going long is a horrible habit that can kill a career before it begins. Unless you are a comedy legend, going long is a major issue. It's disrespectful to the other comics, the show booker, the manager and the audience. Don't get known as the comic who ignores the light. Two things that can give a comic a bad reputation are-- stealing material and ignoring your set time.
#5 Be low maintenance.
Be the easiest comic to work with. Don't do things like complain about your spot in the order, bother the host during the show or distract the other comics on the lineup. Show that you're happy with any spot and then prove that you can have a strong set anywhere in the show. Producers/ managers remember who is easy to work with. I can't stress this enough.
#6 Every new room is an audition.
When you're starting out, every new room you do is a potential audition. Even small rooms nowhere close to a club. Don't phone it in. Always try your best. Someone there might book you for a guest spot on another show or cast you for a web series. You never know, so always be on.
Takeaways: Be nice. Be on time. Respect the light. BE FUNNY!