Saturday Tips: Levels of Achievement Defined
Part 2: Levels of Achievement Clearly Defined
Tip #3 2018
Guest spots: Clubs and bar shows, weekdays and weekends
#1 Weekday bar show guest spot
There are tons of bar shows in the city every night of the week. Some better than others. Even if it's at a bar with no stage and a light crowd, it's still a guest spot! You are not asked or required to bring anyone. Your only requirement is to show up and do a set amount of time. Not a lot of heavy lifting to do. Most likely there are several other comics on the lineup, so you're not expected to carry the show. You're part of a showcase, so just do the time requested and get laughs (don't go over your time!)
#2 Weekend bar show guest spot
Weekend bar shows are usually bigger, more packed and more reputable. Since it's a weekend, the owner and the audience are expecting a higher quality show. Weekends are prime time "money nights" for venues so they expect a strong show and for people to buy lots of drinks. A weak show can kill business. A weekend spot isn't a good night to try new stuff, especially if it's your first time doing the room. Even if you're not being paid, you're still expected to have a great set. Quality stage-time in Manhattan with a good quality audience is a valuable commodity. Pros with TV credits try to get spots on these shows!
#3 Weekday club show guest spot
You've finally landed a guest spot on a club show during the week. Good work. If you think that just because it's a weekday and the club is slow it doesn't matter if you bomb-- WRONG. Do your best material. Treat every spot like it's your best spot. The manager will be grading you regardless of whether or not you're new to the club, and regardless if there's ten people in the audience. Bring your A-game and kill it. In this business, first impressions are last impressions. There are too many strong comics in Manhattan, begging for stage time, to phone it in. You look like a real pro if you go up on a rainy, Monday night in front of a small audience and totally own it. Until you're a weekend regular at the club, every performance is an audition.
#4 Weekend club show guest spot
Now is the time to really crush it. A guest spot on a weekend show at a club is highly coveted. Everyone in the game, from longtime pros to newbies, are hustling to get a spot at the club on the weekend. A couple clubs in the city are headliner clubs, which means on the weekend they have a big name headliner (headliners usually don't give guest spots because they've already booked a host and opener.) The rest are showcase clubs, which means all their shows have several comics on the lineup. Everything from the above paragraph applies here tenfold. People will literally throw their best friend under the bus to get a weekend spot at the clubs. Clubs are used to having national headliners and celebrities drop-in, so you're being judged on their level. Needless to say, there's more pressure for you to have a killer set. They'll be judging whether or not you're able to step up into the starting line-up. They're less interested in helping a comic develop, and more interested in seeing if you're able to hang with the pros. Even if you think no one important is watching, I assure you someone is always watching. Word always gets around to the booker, owner and managers if a comic kills or bombs hard.
#5 Guest-hosting a bar show
Hosting a bar show is a really good way to meet new comics and prove your hosting skill. Anytime you're asked to host, your job just got a lot more challenging, because you're going to be up and down in front of the audience all night and need to keep them feeling good. I don't recommend offering to host just because you want to or think you can. It's better if a comic sees you do well at a show and approach you about hosting their show. If you bomb hosting it can make the rest of the show bad. As a host, you're expected to do several things: A) Get a sober crowd loose, laughing and warmed up. B) You need to know when to bring the energy of the room up or down depending on the next act. If someone bombs or there's a loud individual/ group, you have to know how to deal with it and get everyone back onboard with the show. A good way to get hosting experience is by hosting an open mic, then building up your experience. Not being a strong host can make the audience and other comics lose trust in your abilities.
#6 Hosting a club show
The next level up is hosting a club show. If you're hosting a club show on a weekday, it's still a lot of responsibility and you need to really bring it. Just because it's a weekday doesn't mean you can take it easy and call it in. Remember, the manager/owner or someone is always watching. They're seeing if you can handle everything-- the crowd, the comics, the flow. They won't tell you, but they're most likely judging whether or not you'd be able to handle a packed house on a weekend. Treat hosting a club show as a crucial audition. There aren't many comics in NYC who are both good hosts and want to host (most would rather do a spot then go to the next club). So, clubs are more actively looking for consistent hosts than just comics to do spots. If you make it as a host at a major club, that's going to help you become a regular and get more work. Many older comics don't want to host. It's hard work and is a different skill set than just doing a spot. It's also very important to be friendly and helpful to the manager, because you want to make his job easier and make the show a success. If you're not ready to host at a club, it can hurt your chances of getting booked for future work there. Clubs can't take a chance on a bad host!
Takeaways: Do your best material whether it's a club or a bar. Treat every show like an audition.