It may seem easy to just throw a couple of your funny friends on stage and rack in the millions, but it is much more difficult than that. If you are going to put on shows there are some things you have to be aware of.
You would think that being a comedy show producer is all about gathering talent and making a flyer, but that isn’t the case. At the very start, the producer has to make sure that the place they are performing is suitable for what they envision the show to be. Are you looking for intimacy? Then doing it in a large theater is not going to work. Are you planning on bringing a person that has a following? Then you will be be served to not pick your uncle’s bar and try to charge people $25 bucks. The venue is very important to how people perceive the product before they even get to actually witness the product. It’s important that the producer see the venue. That is hard to do if you are several states away, but if you are producing a local show, it is pretty simple to just walk into the place and see if it has functioning lights, or if the stage has dark spots (places left unlit on stage). Does the audience sit far away from the stage? That is important to who you bring in. Does the venue even have a stage, or are you just huddled in the corner of a dark ass bar?
When it comes to talent on the show I have always been of the mind set of leaving them wanting more. There is no need to have 10 comedians on a stage if three or four will do. When you load a show with talent, it does several things to the audience. It can wear them down because they are seeing comedian after comedian, and it makes it seem as though this is the only way this show could have been pulled off is with a bunch of comedians doing five to ten minutes of material. You want to make the audience want to see your next show, not wish the current show is over. Make sure you know the talent getting on stage. Don’t give someone you have never seen before enough time to tie a noose around their neck. Don’t pad the show with a bunch of open mic comedians thinking that it adds value to the show because it doesn’t (not ragging on open mic comedians, but they tend to be less experienced and thus should be dealt with carefully).
If you are going to do advertising, please ensure you proofread! I know this blog has mistakes in it all the time, so I am not saying I don’t do it, but when you are making something that is supposed to attract people to your event, you have to make sure that the venue’s name is spelled right at the very least! Do you have everyone’s name spelled right on the flyer? Does it have the date and time? These are things that separate the professional from the unprofessional.
Let’s talk about the show itself. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, but START THE SHOW ON TIME! If you say 8pm and you don’t start until 8:30, you now have an uneasy audience that has probably been drinking for those thirty minutes and by the time the last comedian gets up, people have been waiting to leave. Don’t do your audience like that! They made it to the show. The least you can do is give them the show in a timely matter.
I think the last thing to discuss is compensating the comedians. There are a myriad of ways to go about paying comedians, but one thing is for sure: Pay the comedians! Nothing will shorten your comedy producing career faster than not paying comedians. That is why it is important to tell them up front what they are going to get. Do they get a couple of drinks or a meal? Let them know beforehand. You are the producer it is your job to make sure the talent feels like their time was valued. We had an incident here where there was bad communication between us, the show producers, and the talent. They thought that a guest set pays, and they were upset that we did not pay them. I offered to pay the person because they do not live nearby, so they may not have wanted to do it if they knew they would not get anything like gas covered. I also let them know for future reference what a guest set meant. These are things you have to do because nothing spreads faster than negative news. You want to make sure you have a good reputation with comedians so sometimes you may have to take a bullet, but it is better than being the type of person that is screwing over the talent.