So now you’ve got a couple of open mics under your belt, you’ve made the host chuckle a few times and you remember to move the mic stand outta your way.
Hopefully you’ve also figured out a bit of your stage presence and have learned How to Deal With Freezing Up On Stage.
Now before you roll out the merch table, it’s time to start chasing a couple of those sweet sweet booked spots you’ve been hearing about.
You’ve seen the Facebook events, the posters with everyone’s face on them and you’re wondering “How do I get up there from here?”
Well it takes a lot of work and a little bit of luck but here’s Six Ways To Get Booked.
(Please note that none of these techniques are guarantees and also I’m not considering getting booked at comedy clubs since they all have their own specialized booking process)
Let’s dive into it shall we?
1. Check out their Facebook or Website
Usually most producers who’re going through the trouble of booking a show will have put up a Facebook page just to make sure that their brand is searchable online – to be found by audience members and of course hungry open mic’ers like yourself.
If they’re a bit more established, they might have put a bit of extra money into this enterprise and actually have a website up, either for their personal brand or the show itself.
Check these out to see whether there is a contact point that you can make a booking request or at least to talk to someone about how to get booked.
Sometimes their show may not have a Facebook page or website, well fear not! The producer or some generous soul may have listed the show and a few more details on useful sources like Badslava and Micmaps so you might be able to check there for shows in your city.
This step seems obvious and simple but I’ve seen many people forget that this is even an option. Often times after doing this and sending in a request it’s logically leads us to the second item on this list which is….
2. Go To The Show
After you’ve given their Facebook and website a once over or grabbed the show details off of a comedy show list, you should try and make it out to the next show.
If you found a Facebook event for the show you may want to click “going” and show your digital support and maybe bring a friend who’s also a fan of comedy.
Some comics make the classic mistake of only going to open mics or shows that they’re already booked on because anything else might be a “waste of time”.
Visiting a show that you aren’t on will give you multiple benefits, some of which will turn out to be worth more than squeezing in one more open mic.
These benefits include: You’ll see a new venue, meet the host and the producer (often the same person) meet some of the acts on the show and possibly get some basic networking in.
The most important things you’ll do when visiting a show though, is you will see the calibre of act that this producer books and honestly ask yourself whether you’re good enough to be considered for this show.
Also you’ll get to talk to the producer IN PERSON (if they want to be talked to) and you have a chance to have a quick conversation with them as to whether you would be able to send them a video.
Many times this will put you ahead of the pack in consideration not only because you’ve supported the show (I hope you bought a drink!) but also the producer has gotten a chance to talk to you and decide whether or not they like you and want to book you.
3. Invite or book the producer on your show
Most times a producer probably doesn’t book people they don’t know or haven’t seen before and it’s pretty difficult to get in front of the right people simply by chance at an open mic, and even then they probably aren’t spending the time talent exactly talent scouting.
One of the best ways to get them to see you or even know who you are is to invite them to a show you host and try to show off your stuff.
Be it an open mic or booking them a slot on your show, having them experience your style of comedy and get a taste of your material is the ticket to them deciding if they like you and want to book you.
A secondary benefit of inviting more experienced comics to your show is that some of them may offer helpful tips to improve your hosting, producing and promotion of your own show which is usually invaluable insight from people who have been doing it longer and may have some great ideas.
4. Be good at self promotion or bring some audience
Being funny is one part of your job as a comedian but in the world of the Internet and social media it’s often expected that you throw a little bit of marketing and promotion in the mix.
Many comics may argue that marketing and promotion of the show isn’t their job, and they’re right; it’s the producer’s job. But if you want to grab an edge where it is reasonably within your reach and may make a lot of difference later on in your career, getting a handle on your SELF promotion which INCLUDES the show is gonna be a great place to start.
Your fans, including your family and friends likely wanna see what you’ve been up to and while you don’t need to promote every single show and open mic that you go to, mentioning a couple might be worth it.
For instance, when you feel like you’ve been booked on something significant (especially if it’s paid) it’s a good idea to try to fill some seats to have a great show and possibly convince some of them to come out and see you more often.
Also from the producer’s POV you’ve just made them some money and if you can reliably do that AND be funny in the process, you’ve got a good chance at being booked back.
5. Find friends in the lineup
Finding about new shows is part of the excitement for me as for many other comics, and is made even more so by noticing that a friend of yours is booked on the show.
This piggybacks on the message from #2 but the difference is that a friend in comedy who’s seen you before and can directly vouch for you probably provides a much more valued introduction to the producer.
Countless times I’ve shown up to a venue with a friend only to find out that there’s a lotto spot, filling in for a dropout or even randomly being added to the show as a ‘special guest’.
Basically keep your eyes on what your friends are doing. Sometimes they may have a great opportunity that fits you perfectly and all you’ve gotta do is ask for a bit of information.
6. Have a Car
This is a big one. Like a really big one.
Groups of comics sometimes will have a private laugh about how much of a boost it is to have access to a car as a young comedian.
Driving hosts, headliners or sometimes even the producer to a show, festival or private gig can solidify you as a useful contact to have and will likely get you way more work more consistently than any or even all of the other tips.
More often than not comics in the city have no need for a car or even a licence and so if you can make friends with a few people who regularly go out of town, you’ll probably have a good amount of work waiting for you (as long as you’re funny too).
Don’t even worry about your car not being appropriate or a current model or whatever, so long as you can get to the gig safely on time, nobody really cares how much you spent on it.
Eventually you’ll get to a point where you’re the one trying to go out of town more often and it’s incredibly valuable to be the one who can be relied upon to actually show up for a booked spot or even an emergency situation.
Hope you enjoyed these tips.
Leave your comments complaints and suggestions below.
Clif Knight is a Guyanese born comedian based in Toronto where he does shows all around the country, including The Nubian Show with Kenny Robinson, SHADE with Anasimone George and Your Hood’s A Joke with Danish Anwar.He’s performed at the New York Comedy Club, The Comedy Studio in Boston and opened for Adam Newman at The Comedy Nest in Montreal.He participated in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the NXNE Festival and the Living Room Comedy Festival in Toronto.Sometimes he makes way too many pancakes.Follow him everywhere at @clifknightcomedy