The very talented Clif Knight recently wrote a helpful article, 6 Ways to Get Booked on Comedy Shows. I would like to follow this article with my own, 6 Ways to NOT Get Booked on Comedy Shows. It may not be as insightful as Clif’s article, but it will make me feel better, having vented a little. So, let’s jump right in, shall we?
Six Ways to Not Get Booked on COMEDY SHOWS
1. Message a producer some variation of Yo Spot?
If you’re good friends with the producer, this is obviously cool, If however, you haven’t met the producer before, or you’ve only met them a couple of times, please attempt complete sentences, and try introducing or re-introducing yourself before requesting a spot. Along this same line, if you haven’t actually seen the show, ask around (or omg go see it) to see if it’s suitable for you and one you actually want to be on. For example, Black Sheep has a no punching down policy. This may not be for you so figure it out before you message Yo Spot?
2. Deciding that it is beneath you / a waste of time to send a video or short bio along with your spot request.
Even if the producer has seen you before, they may want to review your set before choosing which venue and lineup would be a good fit for you. Or they may need a refresher on your set. Whatever their reason, it does not take a lot of time to include a link to a short video (5 -7 minutes, not your hour-long practice session for your imminent Netflix special).
3) Ignore/be rude to comedians until you realise that they also produce a show.
Producers aren’t any dumber than you. They can clearly see the exact moment that you’ve just realised they’re someone “worth talking to”. If you’ve been an asshole to someone all night, suddenly chatting it up with them is not going to help you out at all.
4) Ignoring a booking request because you’re not available or you’re not sure if you’re available.
If you’ve asked to be on a show (or even if you haven’t – they are reaching out to you because of a vouch or they saw you and know you’re funny), pretty please don’t ignore their booking request once it happens. Just say you cannot take the spot, or you’re unsure and you will get back to them on [insert date here], or you’ve changed your mind and you no longer want to be on their show.
5) Accepting a spot, then messaging the producer within 48 hours before the show to ask what’s the pay again? And subsequently cancelling because you were offered another gig that is slightly higher paying.
A producer that can’t pay that much (i.e. any independent producer) will fully understand if you get a club, corporate gig, super high paying out-of-town spot or a showcase opportunity that can lead to more $. If, however, the pay is just a little higher than what you’ve already accepted, and you’re not giving up a headliner spot for a 10-minute, please be professional and don’t drop your original gig. And if you do, please don’t assume you can just “reschedule” for the next show.
Not promoting your booked spots.
As a producer, I fully understand that it’s my job to bring an audience to the comedians, not the other way around. I do, however, like to book people who seem excited about being on the show. In fact, when I’m looking at spot requests from people I haven’t booked before, I creep their social media (yes, I know I’m being creepy, that’s why it’s called creeping). If they have zero posts about upcoming shows, or they are clearly listed on the lineup of an event page, yet they haven’t marked themselves as attending, it’s a red flag. I worry that if they don’t care enough about the show to mark themselves as attending and share it a little, they also won’t care enough to show up on time, respect the light or ignore our no notebooks rule.
So, there it is, end of rant. Feel free add other no-no’s and whatnot in the comments.
Darcia Armstrong is a stand-up comic with a style that’s been described as “Story telling with punchlines”- whatever that means. She is a Second City graduate of both the stand-up program and comedy writing program. She has performed on some incredible stages across the Ontario, her favourite being the common rooms of homeless shelters throughout the GTA. Darcia was a semi-finalist at Comedy Brawl Toronto and a finalist in Clash of the Comics. She co-produces several shows across the GTA as part of Black Sheep Comedy.