At some point in your comedy career, you will send an email or Facebook message to a show booker. That is how a lot of comedy gets booked. I will try to help you as best as I can.
Now, I have separate articles about head shots and videos and writing up a bio, but I haven’t done an article on how to submit your info to bookers. The first thing, and this is a no-brainer for some: Show some professionalism. They may be someone you met at the strip club, but when sending them your package, make sure you are as professional as possible. The old saying: “Fake it til you make it” applies here. Make it seem like this isn’t the first time you have contacted someone about work.
There are many ways to start your email. What I do is just let them know who the email is from. Yes, they may see it when they open it, but that doesn’t matter, you have never met this person before (and if you have still act as though you haven’t). I leave out where I am from, why? Because I don’t want to be judged before they have seen my material. If they don’t like it, then that’s fine, but I don’t want to not get work based on a bias that someone has about a city or part of the country. I tend to keep it simple, and I think that is the best way to go. The body of the email is usually 4-5 sentences. Just letting them know who I am and what positions I can fill. I headline in bars and smaller clubs, but telling them you can do anything can get you in the door easier. Once you have that going for you, you can headline if that is a possibility.
If you have been referred to them by another comic, then make sure you tell them that. You may get work before they even see your video! Bookers will trust a good comics’ word more than almost anything else. If you know someone that has worked that club, see if you can add their name to your email. I try not to add people as references if I have not talked to them before hand, or I have a good working relationship with them. Some comedians might not like to be emailed by a booker asking about a comic they didn’t even know they were vouching for. I have been messaged liked this and I don’t care, but at the same time, I don’t have much leeway with any bookers I work with to the point that they are hinging working with a comedian on my word.
Now that the email is all typed up, you can now start adding the stuff that will sell you to the booker. Make sure you have a bio, a head shot and a video. The bio should not be too long, just long enough for them to add to your photo for promotional purposes. You can add who you have worked with, but make sure you don’t make stuff up! Will they go out and fact check? Probably not, but do you want to start lying to someone you JUST started working with. If you don’t have much then that is fine, it is better than making stuff up.
You need a head shot. A good one. A great one. So many comics forgo this because it usually means they will have to spend money. Your headshot is more important than your video because this is the photo that people coming to a show you are booked on will see. If it is all grainy because you took it with your iphone, or it looks like your friend took it with his mom’s DSLR, then you will not be taken seriously. If you are in a large city like a Seattle or Portland, then there is no excuse to not having a professional looking headshot. You don’t have to spend a grand to get them done! There are people that are offering good prices (ahem…) so try them out. What you need to remember is that you should have the photo at 300 dpi. That will make it look nice and sharp when it is printed out or enlarged.
People fret about the video and for good reason. Your video is going to sell you to the booker, and it is important to get some things right. You need good looking video! Yes, your phone can record video, and most new phones now can do 4k, but if you are all blown out or the video is really dark no one is watching it. Make sure the resolution is good enough to be watched on a computer screen. 1080p is great and can be enlarged in a browser window without it looking like old porn. You need to have good audio. This is important! No one is gonna sit through your video if they can’t hear it. I have an article all about getting microphones for your phone, but I will state it here because I am too lazy to go looking through all those articles. Rode makes the video micro that will attach to your phone and is way better than the crappy mic that is on your phone. Try to get an app like FiLMiC Pro or ProCam (iOS, I don’t know about android) so that you can adjust things like exposure so you can battle with the lights in most clubs. You can make the video however long you want because they will only watch as much as they need to make their decision. I have a five and ten minute video, and I usually send out the five minute video because that is about all they will watch and if they want to watch more, I have that ready to go.
Make sure the video is just you. Not the host talking for 30 seconds. Just you. Make sure the video is tightly cropped on your upper half. Whenever I am filming someone I try to get right at the sternum area, unless I know they will roll around on the stage or something then I go a little wider. The reason you want to have it tight is so there are no distractions going on off the stage to get the bookers attention, and they can see your face better. Try to dress like you will if you are going to work one of their shows. Don’t be in a tux in your video, when you usually work in a shirt and jeans. Refrain from having alcohol on stage with you. A lot of bookers see it as not being professional. Now, that you have your video, put it up on a place like YouTube. Don’t send people a big ole file that they have to download and try to play on their computer. If they have to do that they will just delete your email.
You have everything you need to send out to bookers and club runners. How long do you wait for a response? I usually give it a week or two. You have to remember that these people are getting emails from hundreds, maybe thousands of people, so you have to be persistent if you want to get a response. I wouldn’t send them more than one email a week though because you don’t want to be known as the person that is sending too many emails. You also have to know the reality of trying to get work this way. A lot of bookers already are up to there neck in comedians that can fill spots for them. That is why the contents of your email have to look so professional. For every slacker that is sending them crappy photos and even crappier video, there are people out there that are serious and want to succeed and are doing everything they can to make it look as though they are worth the booker’s time. You are competing with all the people that are working for them now, as well as other people trying to get in with them. I hope this helps you get the work you want. Have a great week.
** The photo is of wrestler Booker T. Get it? You didn’t get it did you?