Very shortly after I first started I took a seminar on producing your own show. There were pretty much two main reasons you would want to do this; money and stage time. If you were pursuing a career as a stand-up the stage time was much more relevant. Being a producer strictly for money is something people do but you don’t necessarily have to be a stand-up to go about doing it.
Right away I was drawn to the appeal of stage time. When you are just tarting it can be very difficult to actually do shows. There are opportunities for bringer shows and possibly bar shows if you play your cards right, both of which will be discussed later. Producing a show is extremely educational. It gives you insight into many important aspects of the business of comedy. You will learn how to approach venues, promote your show and network with other comedians.
As a new comic I think producing a show is a must. When you have your own show you are right away separating yourself from other comedians. It is a valuable resource that can serve as a bargaining chip in terms of your value as a performer.Because when you are just starting nobody is going to know you and you are probably terrible, producing a show gets your name out there while helping you get better as a comedian.
The best nights to try and produce a show are Monday and Tuesday. These are down nights for the venue and they will be more likely to go for something different. I think for your first show you should approach a bar as opposed to a club. A lot of your early experience is going to be trial and error and failing and it’s better to fail somewhere that doesn’t really matter. As you get better you can approach better venues on busier nights. For now you should just be focusing on getting better at stand-up and learning as much as you can about the business. Producing a show will accomplish both of these.
I learned from the seminar that you should not produce a free show. People subconsciously associate free with being bad. You can play around with this idea but in general it’s good to charge something affordable like $5. This gives you the opportunity to make some money and also allows you to offer comp or discounted tickets. If your show is free there is no incentive from receiving a comp ticket. The show is already comp.
Producing a show gives you an opportunity to try hosting. I think as you go up the rungs of the comedy ladder it makes the most sense to start hosting. You will get to practice crowd work in addition to your material. As a host your job is to keep the show moving, keep the energy up and make sure people know what’s going on. You can do material but it’s not completely necessary. It’s really not a good look when the host goes on stage and kills and then is funnier than all the other comedians on the show. You want to be funny but being like able is more important.
Producing a show also affords you countless opportunities to network and learn other skills. When I first started I was terrible at making posters for my show but now I am quite competent. I’ve also gotten way better at promoting in general. Along the way you will learn a lot of important skills required for being a successful at comedy.
When choosing a venue I think it’s good to find one that you like but more importantly one where management is on board with your idea. It’s very difficult to run a successful show if the management is not having it. If the bar is not that busy the idea of a show is a pretty easy sell. You are providing entertainment and bringing people into the bar. It might take a few tries but eventually you will get the hang of pitching your idea. This is another invaluable skill that producing a show will afford you.
So there you have it. Start your own show. Team up with some people at your level or just do it on your own. Learn from your mistakes and be nice to everyone you meet.