I Spokane, comedy is a struggle. The thing is that Spokane is the largest city in Eastern Washington and the next biggest city even close to that would be Boise Idaho. It is always a weird thing to go to a place that is out of Spokane and see people coming in to see comedy and then you come home and have that not be the case. For a long time I used to wonder about why that is. Why do people in the Spokane area not come out to comedy. The problem is that there are many reasons and some of those reasons you can not simply put a flyer up to change.
1. Stereotype: This is something you will not be able to change. There is a difference between what you see on TV and what you get in a comedy club. All the bad words are bleeped out and the comedian can cut out a risky joke. You don’t get that when you sit in a bar or a club and listen to a guy talk about some pretty messed up stuff from time to time. As entertainment, it is a harder sell to your in-laws to come see comedy then to go see say a PG-13 movie. That is mainly because smaller clubs are not going to have people that you may be aware of. The internet is such that you can find out about any working comic so you can see if the content of his act is to your liking, but if they have nothing on them then you don’t know what you get. Then there is the problem I see all the time at clubs in Spokane. No one wants to sit in the front because they have seen where the people in the front will get picked on. Never mind the fact that if you are in the third row of seats that just makes the third row of seats the first row of people.
2. Advertising: I have been doing comedy for about 8 years now and when I talk to people I still get told that they love comedy, but they didn’t know where any clubs are in town. Now they could just be lying, or it could be because of the way clubs have been ran in Spokane for a long time. When I first started the comedy club I used to go to to work was in the basement of a hotel. A lot of people don’t know that. It wasn’t advertised, I had to go look for it. Clubs in Spokane are usually in an established bar, so it is assumed that because the bar is known that the club within it would also be know, which is not the case apparently, because many people have approached me, telling me they did not know that. The thing is Advertising is such a risky thing. If you put money into it. Just because you spend $1,000 bucks on ads doesn’t mean you will get a noticeable return back. That is something you can not tell a bar owner when they already have to pay all these things and they have to pay comics to be there. They assume that most comics will do the pushing themselves.
3. Spokane: This is the biggest one to me and the one that you will not change. For the most part, the people of Spokane don’t want to see comedy. That is not to say that there is not a comedy market here. There is, it’s just really small. Don’t get me wrong. If you bring a big name in people will come out, but that is not the same as a road comic and people going in to see them. The Comedy Clubs I have done out of Spokane have shown me that. I have seen packed rooms on a Wednesday. I have seen standing room only in places. So people still want to see comedy, just not in Spokane. I think it is due to the fact that Spokane has different values then others cities. I hear all the time how there is nothing to do in Spokane, but yet I also see that all people really want to do is sit around the house, drink, and complain that Spokane is boring. This is the mentality of the town. It is also a conservative town, so a lot of people do not want to go somewhere and be told that they are wrong for hating brown people. We just have a lot more of those types of people here, so it is harder to convince them to come and participate in that.
I think the only big problem that can be solved is #2. Just making people aware that there is comedy in this town and if you want to see it then you can get off your butt and go see it. The other two are human based and you can’t change those overnight. The only thing you can do is let people know that there is comedy out there for you. You just have to look for it.