Promoting Your Show

I hope everyone had a good and safe new year. Today, I will talk about ways that I have seen to successfully promote your shows.  This works for independent shows and shows you will be doing with a promotor or booker.

The first thing we need to get out of the way is that fear a lot of comedians have about trying to sell themselves.  I still struggle with it from time to time, but I have learned that it is a necessary part of being a comedian.  People have all sorts of different entertainment options, and what you have to do is be able to tell them that coming to your show is the better option.  That means you can’t tell people about your show half assed.  You have to be all in!  Why should someone come see you, if even you aren’t excited about it.

If I know about a show really far in advance, what I like to do is get the ball rolling as soon as possible.  So, if I have a month before the show, I will usually try to get a flyer done before hand. You can make a simple flyer on your phone or computer, or if you have the cash, you can get someone to do one for you.  Since I am not that good at making kick ass flyers for my show, I let a professional handle it.  Now, this route will cost you, but you will get a better looking flyer.  When money was low for me, what I would do is go online and look for images that were in the public domain or which allowed me to use them without a fee. Then, I would put my information over that photo.  Why would I do that?  Well, a funny photo will get more eyeballs then just a picture of your face, and that is the whole purpose of a flyer. If you are going to put pictures of your head and neck on there though, make sure the rest of the flyer is interesting.  Maybe cut out the background so it looks as though its your head and not just a picture you threw on there.

People get the impression that if you put up flyers that people will just come.  That is not true!  Again, like I said earlier, you have to convince people that YOUR show is the thing they want to do instead of staying inside and watching Netflix.  Just because you put it in your friends tattoo parlor, does not mean you will see a bunch of tatted up people at your show. That is why having a decent flyer, or at the least an interesting flyer, is more important than the number of flyers out there.  Besides, why waste all your time taping flyers to poles when you have the internet and social media!

Social media has changed how people promote their shows.  Some comedians have mailing lists that will email people that have come to your shows in the past.  This can serve two purposes.  One, it lets people know when a show is coming up and Two, even if those people aren’t near where the show will be held, they will keep you in mind when you come back through.

What I see a lot on social media that kind of bugs me is a comedian that has a show and they will post something up the night before the show of the day of the show.  NO!  That is not how people work.  People plan for things far in advance.  That is why I like to promote a month ahead of time.  That gives people enough time to decide what they are going to do on that day.  If you tell people the day of, there is a far less likely chance that they will show up because they already have Netflix and chill in their schedule.  What should be going on is throwing it out their every once in awhile on social media and then a week or two before the show then you go a little more heavy.  An example is my comedy CD recording.  I knew about three months ahead that on that date and time, I would be doing it.  So I got a flyer made, and I made one myself and I just put them up on Facebook and Twitter about a month before the show.  When the date got closer I increased the frequency of telling people about the shows.  Then the week of, I hit my social media pages harder.

There are downsides to this strategy though.  You don’t want to bother your social media base too much or they will start to zone you out, or just stop following you. There is a careful balance.  This is why I like the flyer or funny picture ideas. This is also why I have a dedicated page just for people who want my comedy and not my musings on public school lunch. This will keep eyeballs on it and at least entertain them.  You can fatigue your target audience if you keep throwing up the same flyer with you and your friend on it.

Another thing to be aware of is when you are actually trying to promote your shows.  If you are doing it at 10:30am on a Monday it may not have the same effect as a Thursday at 4:30pm. Why?  Because not everyone you know is a comic that is just sitting on social media all day.  Think about the people you usually perform for, do they mostly fit a certain demographic?  If so, then you have a good idea on how to get their eyes on what you are selling.  I like to put my stuff up on Facebook around noon and again at around 4-5pm.  That is when people are doing lunch and would most likely look at Facebook and see a picture of my face glued to the body of a kangaroo.  Or they are sitting at home and want to see what is going on.  I say Facebook because I haven’t figured out Twitter yet.  For all I know I am being followed by a bunch of sex-bots…

I really hope this helps people that are trying to get more asses in the seats.  With everything, this will take time and patience, but once you figure out how to promote your shows you will see the added benefits of increased money and the ability to get better negotiating deals when you want to put on your own shows in different spots.  Thanks for reading and I hope you have a bomb ass year!


Turning The Holidays Into Paydays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…especially if you are a comic looking for ways to get more work! The holidays are a great time to book private shows and corporate shows.  Lets go over some of the things you need to make a little extra cash during this time.

First, if you are reading this now, on the day it was posted, it may be too late.  That’s because most holiday parties and corporate events have already been put together.  It is best to get your feelers out around October, September if you live in a large area.  Most of my stuff comes to me directly so if you have been performing for awhile now, you may not have to do too much heavy lifting.  You know the old saying:  The early bird gets the worm.  Well, it applies here as well so next year get on it!

Do some scouting.  You have friends..Well, I am assuming, maybe you’re an asshole and no one likes you, but for the people with friends with normal jobs, just ask them if they want to have a comedian at their party.  Most companies will be having a Christmas party, so just get out there and see if they want you to tell some yuk yuks.

Now, just because you know people that want to have you tell jokes while they exchange shitty gifts doesn’t mean you are set.  You have to set a price.  A realistic price.  Just because it is a company doesn’t mean they have unlimited resources.  Especially for a comedian that will only give them an hour of entertainment when a cheaper karaoke machine can give them several.  Do your homework.  If you are dealing with Bob’s land of bolts, then you should not be trying to charge them like they are Amazon.  Some businesses may have a set amount saved up, so it is best to ask what they can do.  That way you don’t price yourself out of a gig.  They will probably undercut you, so make sure you have a price in your head.  If you have to drive across the state, don’t take an amount that puts you in the hole by the time you get back.

When doing these types of shows, you have to have your clean show hat on.  You may run into the rare business that will let your talk about sharting, but most of these parties want to tow the line between fun and not worthy of a lawsuit.  Make sure you can give a great show without getting too weird. If you just sit there and curse at them for 45 minutes, don’t expect to get that gig next year.  So, if you have only 45 minutes of shart jokes (you damn genius you) then wait until you get some material that can target an audience of this nature better.

I think you have enough information to get a nice amount of gigs this next holiday season.  The same basics of comedy applies.  Make em laugh.  Give em a good show.  And have a great time!

Donald Trump Is A Cartoon Supervillian

Can anyone seriously look at Donald Trump and say to themselves, “I can see him as president.”? That dude is a mountain hideout away from being a supervillian.  Every time this guy announces he will run for president he ends up doing a bunch of crazy shit and makes more money, yet we bitch and complain about Kim Kardashian making money from doing nothing.

Summer is winding done and that means the competitions and festivals are ramping up.  I applied to enter the San Francisco Comedy Competition, and I may try to get into the Big Sky Comedy Festival. These can be sure fire ways to get more eyes on you.  That is if you can get in.  I was opposed to paying to get into a competition.  I felt that if you are paying to enter a competition then the people putting it on have no incentive to get the best of the best.  They can just look to put on the best show, like a network comedy competition.  They will gather two black people, even better if it is a black woman, and then pad the rest just so it looks interesting.  I don’t like that.  If 19 funny ass white people entered and you have 19 spots then they should get those spots.  I don’t want to be thrown on a show just so it doesn’t look whitewashed.  Now, I feel like 30 bucks is worth it to possibly get more work.  It is way cheaper than driving all over the country and it is more time effective than sending hundreds of emails and getting nothing.

I am going to be entering a couple of my photos into the county fair.  I don’t know why I am so excited, but I am.  I don’t even know what kind of photo I will enter into the competition.  I was thinking I should pull at the patriot in everyone and do something with a flag, but man…that is too on the nose.  I will just look through what I have and try to make a decision.  I want to win something.  I think, just like with comedy, that it will validate what I am doing.  At least to me.

Money Means Nothing If You Have To Eat A Bag Of Spiders

This has been a great Spring comedy wise.  Comedy in this area usually shuts down, but I have been fortunate enough to have two distinct qualities most other comedians in the area do not possess.  First, I can work really long clean.  Some may have 5-10 minutes, but I can go an hour without the curses and the sex stuff that I get booked to do private stuff.  Second, I am lucky.  I have been doing it long enough in the area that I am a safe bet to most people looking for comedy.  I hope the same holds true for the holiday season.

I was about to buy a car, but it didn’t happen.  The dealership (Camp Chevrolet in Spokane, WA) must have taught all their employees from the old ass school of selling cars.  First, they were typing things into a computer, but printing everything out on paper.  Why?  It is 2015!  I can see you typing it into the computer.  Just show me the damn screen.  Then they did stupid shit like lowball you on your trade when I can look up what it is worth (give or take 10%).  We had a wedding to go to, but they kept trying to keep us there by stalling.  That made me feel like a wooly mammoth getting pushed on the edge of a cliff.   We left and came back the next day at 10.  The guy tried to get me to sign for a deal that I told them the day before would not work.  I know he remembered me.  I was the only black guy in there that day…trust me. We walked out, but I wanted the car so I made a different offer.  They said they just needed to talk to the bank and would call me.  They call me and the guy is all, “Hurry up and come look at it, or this lady will get it.”  Really?  That’s how you do your deals Camp Chevrolet?  Ultimatums?  I said I wanted the car.  When I told you I would come down I came down not late, but actually early so don’t pull that school yard shit.  We get there and it is the same deal from the day before!  Not the one we shook hands on.  The one that I already told them I didn’t want to do.  So I was just pissed and left.  The car was nice, but not if they are going to pretend it is 1998 and I can’t find a better deal elsewhere.

Haven’t seen the kid in awhile.  About a week.  We still text.  Well, I text…she just reads em and continues enjoying her dad free life I guess.  She will text when she needs something though.  At least I know that is the relationship my child wants with me.  No pretense.  No tomfoolery.  Just right out in the open.  You have to admire that.

I am doing more than just taking pictures of people’s faces.  I will be doing some photography for some ad stuff and some fine art stuff in the future.  I never even though I would go down this road.  The view is nice so far.


Video Games And Getting Old

This week was the start of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, This is a convention that happens where game makers show off the games that will be coming out in the future.  I don’t know if it is because I am getting older or what, but there wasn’t really anything that I saw that excited me like it used too.  I don’t want to become one of those old people that stopped doing the things that they love.

I have been getting request to take photos of all kinds of things.  I like the fact though that people are asking me how much I charge first.  That makes me feel good.  That means that people see what you do as a value, and worthy of payment.

A couple of good friends (and great comics) are moving and it makes me feel like I am just complacent. I mean I do go out and do shows and stuff, but I also feel that if I were in a larger city, then I could actually do even more than what I am doing right now.  The emails keep going out and I keep scrapping along, but I really feel I could do better if I were in a place that had more entertainment going on within it.  Both of these guys that left are really good comics, but also really good at working to get to places that people who don’t work as hard can get too.  I feel like I am one of those people who isn’t working hard enough.

My kid is out on summer vacation.  I hope she doesn’t think that she will just be sitting around the house eating candy and getting money every time she wants it.  I want her to sharpen her math skills.  I will probably look at getting her a tutor.  Last year I got her some damn singing lessons and she didn’t do them all.  That kind of pissed me off.  I feel if you want to do something you have to follow the steps necessary to be successful at that.


Not Always Roses And Slurpees

Comedy is one of the hardest parts of the entertainment industry to break out in.  For every Jerry Seinfeld they are 10,000 comics like me that have a lot of holes in there calendar and don’t know how to fill it.  I think a lot of people get into certain things looking at the end result before looking at the trail needed to walk to get to there.  No one just gets up on stage and their second or third time on stage they get a special and a TV show.  Unlike music or movies, comedians go through the gauntlet and a lot of people never really make it out.  From crappy bookers to long lonely drives it is not always being a superstar.

Starting out you will spend a lot of time in bars and comedy clubs trying to write a set 2-3 minutes at a time.  If you drink I guess this isn’t a problem, but if you don’t then you will have to deal with the one comic that is drunk, and he can’t get on stage unless he is wasted.  You will then notice a trend. Comics are broken people. I have never met a normal comic.  They all have perverse minds that see the world as a playground.  They are troubled and feel a need to be accepted and this is before you even get paid work.

I have been doing it for 10 years now and the majority of my shows still take place in a bar.  A lot of the time the people in the bar didn’t know something was going on even though there have been posters of your face plastered over every inch of the place for a month.  Some of the bars patrons don’t want to hear you.  They want to look at the TV so you have to come out HARD to get their attention.  If you lose em?  You may have to perform for two tables up front.  If you don’t get a drunk person yelling at you, then you will be forced a lot of the time to sit around while the bar staff figures out who is supposed to pay you.  I don’t know how many times I have had to sit there while the owner of the bar sees if I will just walk away without pay or something?  Does that work?  Are people just leaving their jobs without getting their paychecks?

Most of the time you will deal with bookers and not all bookers are true to their word.  You may get there to find out the pay has changed or that you have to wait two weeks to get paid…if at all.  Bookers are people as well. Usually people that want to make more money than you.  If you don’t want to be pissed off, don’t find out how much the booker makes compared to you each show.  I have met a lot of bookers and only a couple would I leave my prized sheep with.

There are lonely drives and lonely nights after not so great shows where you have to sit in hotel room that was last cleaned in the 90’s watching the history channel.  Well, unless you get drunk or high then you will probably forget to lock the door to the shady hotel room and get robbed of the 40 dollars you have left from the show.  You will be eating terrible food, unless you eat just fruits and vegetables. When I am out doing comedy, I eat like a raccoon in a suburb.  Just junk.

Now, you may be saying, “Well, why are you doing it then?”.  Why would you do this?  Why would you subject yourself to abuse and being told that everything you have worked so hard on sucks?  For the love of the craft.  No one goes into this (or should) thinking they will be the next big star.  You do it because you love to make people laugh.  So much so that you want to make it your profession.  This post is not to discourage you.  I get down on myself for weeks at a time.  I sulk about wondering what I am missing and why no booker will call me back.  Then something breaks and I am on the road for a month straight.  The thing is that you have to work.  I mean WORK.  You want to be a professional comic?  Well, are you willing to give up 2-3 hours a night 6-7 days a week to perfect your jokes and network?  Are you willing to drive to whoknowswhere and tell jokes in front of 8 pissed off locals for 30 bucks and all the off brand energy drink you can chug?  Are you willing to email bookers everyday for weeks on end to get some bookings?  You have to be honest with yourself.  If you are willing to do it 40% of the time then expect 40% in return.  You can’t expect this to drop in your lap.  Out of all the forms of entertainment, this take more fine tuning than any other and if you would rather sit at home and watch America’s got talent then you should not be upset when someone that works their ass off every night goes further than you.  This is the reality of the game you chose to play.