If you live in a larger market like Portland or Seattle, this may not apply to you, but for those of us that live around small to medium markets like Spokane, Wa or Boise, ID there is a lull that comes with the summer months. Now, you can call it a vacation and just wait until the shows ramp back up, but if you are serious about stand-up, you may be lost as to what you need to do to keep yourself sharp. As someone that lives in a small market (Spokane) I know what you can do to stay “game ready”.
Still visit open mics: If you want to get paid one day you have to sharpen and edit your material to the point where it is second nature and it is at its best. Now, I know comics that will avoid open mics and just work on new material when they are working. I don’t like that because if the joke doesn’t work, you just dug yourself a hole on a paid show. I would rather work on my new material in a setting where I do not upset a paid audience or upset a booker or show promoter. I know it is hard to get up in front of an audience when it is lovely outside and you know there are cookouts and outdoor activities, but if you want this this is a necessary step in achieving it.
Promote the hell out of your shows: If you do have a paid show lined up, you have to promote the hell out of it! What I see during the summer is that people get complacent. Nothing is going on during the summer months and they present their show as if people will just walk it. You have to make it seem like an event worthy of putting on adult pants. Just like all other times, you are competing with other activities, most of them free. Just slapping it on Facebook and thinking that is good enough…isn’t good enough. If you don’t really want to be inside, what makes you think that others will want to do the same? Make it seem like this is worth their precious summer time! It may seem impossible, but if you promote the show like it is gonna be an event, you will get people. Spice it up a little bit. Have a contest or raffle. That way people will come and be engaged.
Keep writing: Don’t wait until the numbers tick back up at the open mics and local shows to pull out your notepad (or phones if your are a moon man). If you want to be great you have to write! Keep the pen to the pad and keep writing as if you are going to take it to the stage soon. That will keep your fire and your want to be great!
Stay in contact with bookers: You may think that it is a waste to keep in touch with bookers during this time, but it isn’t. Yeah, they have their line ups and shows, but there can always be a fallout. If there is and they just got done reading your emails for the past two months, they may be inclined to throw you a bone if anything then just to shut you up.
Stay positive: It is really hard to stay positive when you go a month or two without a paid show. It makes you wonder if this is actually for you if you can’t keep the momentum from the winter and spring going. You have to stay positive about these sort of things. If you are at the level where you get paid work, but you are not in the clubs and theaters all the time you have to remind yourself that it is part of the process. This is what you have to get through so you can benefit in the future. You have to put in to get out. Put in the work, stay positive that it is a temporary thing and make it happen!