You’ve done a bunch of open mics and other shows. People say you are funny. How do you get booked on comedy shows?
Keep grinding — The best way to continue to get better at comedy is to keep doing it wherever the opportunities exist. Open mics, contests, showcases, Zoom, out of town shows. Whatever works for you. You are getting better, meeting more people and developing a reputation as someone serious about comedy.
Show your face at comedy clubs/venues when you don’t have a spot. You might land one, and you also put yourself on the radar of bookers.
If you wonder why you have been sitting home for six months and no one has asked you to be on a comedy show, it’s because you have been sitting home for six months.
You notice how some people keep gobbling up all the opportunities? Because they are always busy.
Be reliable — When you do get an opportunity, be on time and ready to perform. You show up late or not at all or are too drunk or high, you make a bad impression that lasts a long time.
Reliable also means that bookers have a good idea of your comedy. If you submit a video where you do bits about puppies and butterflies and then your whole act at the retirement center is about whacking off, that may not land a second show.
Gather your tools — Most bookers will want a video of your act, so get a decent video of you doing at least 5 minutes. MAKE SURE PEOPLE ARE LAUGHING. You are submitting a video to show that you are good at comedy. And a video of you telling jokes while the crowd is silent or talking about the weather is not a good impression.
You also will want a decent photo — something that can be cropped into a headshot but is more than a headshot. And in color. I love B&W art, but you don’t want to be the only comic with a black & white photo on a flyer.
At some point, you will want an electronic press kit that contains videos of your act, photos, links to your website, social media, etc. For now, at least put together a couple paragraphs that describes your act and what makes you unique.
Reach out to bookers — If you don’t know the person booking the show, the best way to reach out asking for work is to determine how they want admissions submitted and follow that method. If they want it at the comedy club email, send a request there. Don’t send it via text to the owner’s phone number you saw on a buddy’s phone. Most comedy clubs will tell you how to submit on their websites.
Be professional when reaching out — Send an email that includes your name, a link to your video, maybe a photo and say you are interested in being a host, feature, headliner, being on a showcase whatever. Don’t volunteer to do something you can’t deliver yet.
So many people are so bad at sending emails that don’t include their name, a video or anything helpful. You can stand out immediately by being a little bit professional.
If you have credentials — won a contest, were selected for a festival, hosted at a comedy club, acting, etc. — say it. Saying you “opened” for headliners doesn’t do much except to seem like you are grasping.
Let the booker know if you can help sell tickets — “I am originally from your city, and I am sure I can get a dozen family members and friends to the show.” Just make sure you follow through.
Get out of town — Whenever you can, try to find a stage out of town. When you are there, make connections. Build a network of comedy contacts. One benefit of performing out of town is the people don’t see you as that comic who was a brand-new open micer just a few years ago. Also, you can do that bit you’ve done 1,000 times back home, and it’s fresh.
Help promote — If you are on a show, make sure to share the ticket link, flyer, etc. on social media. Heck, offer to put up posters around town. If a booker gives you a chance to be on a showcase and you haven’t lifted a finger to help generate an audience, it doesn’t sit well.
And promote shows that you aren’t on as well. You generate good will that way and may get on the next one.
Put on your own shows — A lot of folks make their own way by putting on their own open mics or shows. This isn’t for everyone. Heck, it’s not for half the people who do it. But it’s an option. Or offer to help people who do put on shows. Or find a job at a comedy club. This is a tried and true option.
Watch your social media — If you reach out about being on a show, a booker will probably check out your social media. Is your social media presence something that would make a person want to work with you or avoid you?
Be funny – This helps too.
About the author
Creig Ewing is a comedian and show producer. He has put on hundreds of open mics, showcases and comedy shows in the Louisville area. He has hosted numerous shows and has featured at The Caravan Comedy Club in Louisville. He gets a lot of seemingly positive comments on his comedy.