A couple of days ago I was speaking with a comic friend of mine. He was thinking about starting a show at a restaurant/bar and had never done something like that before. He had some good ideas about how to go about it and I contributed some of my own thoughts as well. I wanted to share some of the tactics we discussed because I think they are useful for people that have never tried to start a show somewhere new.
First of all it’s incredibly advantageous to pick a place that you are familiar with. One where you know the owner, some of the staff and the customer base is ideal. This is not always the case but what you should be initially aiming for. I think it’s best to pick a place that already has live entertainment. Be it music, karaoke, vinyl night – whatever. It shows an openness to embracing a variety of show ideas and also most likely means that the venue will have some of its own equipment, possibly a stage and a sound system all of which will save you a lot of headache. If you do have trouble finding a place that you are familiar with and has the equipment in place that’s ok, there’s ways around that it’s just not ideal.
If you aren’t familiar with the venue and the employees here is my advice to you. Go in to the place once or twice strictly as a customer. Spend some money, be friendly and tip well. Do not announce that you are trying to start a comedy show. As a person that used to do sales this was an important tactic I used. Show the venue that you are a person, get them to like you and go from there. No one wants to feel like they are being pitched a business proposition at their job. Go to the venue, hang out, develop a rapport and then maybe on your third time in the place when you are somewhat recognizable to the bar tender at least casually ask if they have ever done comedy at the bar before and go from there. As previously stated the best nights to pitch a show are probably Monday or Tuesday.
A lot of this may seem like common sense and it probably is. My main point in this post is that if you find a venue that you really like, don’t rush the process. Take your time to develop a rapport and don’t just be some random asking to speak to the owner. Be patient, sincere and genuine and you will find you do just fine in this endeavor.