Being a Professional
If every comic handled themselves and their business in a professional manner, my life would be so much easier as a producer but more difficult as a comic, as the competition pool would be huge. Fortunately for many of us, the majority of comics do not handle their business professionally. They fail to see that, and wonder why they can’t advance in the field of stand up comedy. There are many little things you can do to endear yourself to the people that offer you stage time.
At gigs, always arrive 15 minutes before your set, let the producer know you are there, and ask who the host is so you can introduce yourself. Make sure you have all the information with you. There is nothing more disturbing than trying to produce a show that’s sold out, seating the audience, handling the staff and comics, and right as the show is starting, getting a text from a comic, “what’s the address again?” Unfortunately, this is never the only time this unprofessional comic needs addresses, directions, and information, that should be held dearly. If you can’t make a show even an open mic please send the producer an e mail or text.
Do not blow the light. There is nothing more unprofessional than not getting off stage when the club, booker, producer, or manager has signaled your time is up. The list of professional comics I don’t book because of this grows every day. The list of new comics is staggering. There is nothing, and I mean nothing worse than doing this. One trick if you are new, is to keep a stopwatch in your back pocket and set it to go off with a minute (or two if you need) before your set ends. This way you won’t be dependent on knowing where the light is. Make sure you know before you take the stage, who and where is the light coming from.
Your e mail signature (you can create one if you don’t have one) should include your name, phone number, e mail address, and website if you have one. Also add your facebook, youtube, and twitter links so people can easily view your work. I wouldn’t use facebook for professional things such as bookings, there are too many lost messages amongst the avalanche of meaningless messages. It’s one thing to reach out to a comic that you don’t know, facebook is great. But once you have an established relationship book via e mail or phone, whichever that producer prefers.
If you receive a guest spot, you can send a thank you note. If you had a great experience doing a show, offer a testimonial or online review. A little gratitude goes a long way. Take care of the bar staff! Today’s bartenders and managers are tomorrows club owners. If a bartender tells me a certain comic doesn’t tip (and they always will), it weighs into whether or not I book them. I used to give a five spot to a waitress at Broadway Comedy Club, and all I ever had was a free diet coke. That waitress returned the favor by introducing me to Al Martin, the owner of Broadway and NY Comedy Club.
And lastly, don’t put down other comics, it will serve no purpose and all be it guaranteed that one of those unfunny comics moves to the top of the comedy chain. Handling yourself professionally is more important than being funny. In the end, most club owners, and bookers, won’t waste one second with an unprofessional comic, while they are more than willing to help someone develop who handles their business professionally.