The world keeps turning, but the world of comedy doesn’t seem to spin at the same speed. As an industry, we are really behind the times in a lot of ways. Let’s talk about some of them.
Pay: This may be where the comedy industry as a whole has fell way behind. Right now, the going rate on the west coast of the United States for one nighters (just one show) is $100 for a feature and $200 for a headliner. That has been the amount of pay for about 25 years! What other profession has been this stagnant? Hell, teachers have gotten more raises, and no one like to pay teachers. The reason it is this way is because comedians just accept it as such. Whenever someone does say something, 2,000 comedians come out of the wood work and agree to the old price. You can’t fix what most don’t see as a problem.
Venue Responsibility: It has been this way since I started, but if a place wants to do comedy and they are not willing to invest anything in it (just throwing up flyers in your bathroom is not going to cut it) then you have to decide if it is worth it. If you are just trying to line your pockets, then you don’t care if four people show up to a bar show if you already have your money, but they may never do another show again.
Merchandising: Selling items after shows has become more than just a way to supplement your gas budget. Years ago, you would sell a cd or a shirt, but now comedians are selling everything from pens to bumper stickers. This makes it easier for a comedian to go to any venue in the country because then they will be able to make a decent amount of money. That doesn’t mean the pay shouldn’t be raised though.
Social Media: No longer do you just walk into town and do a show. You can announce your arrival weeks in advance. This can generate buzz, and in the future, when you do return, you can build a following that can help you make even more money.
These are just some of the things that can help the comedian in the modern market. What is important is to keep looking for ways to get noticed by more people. More people that know you exist means more potential people that will show up to a show.