AS YOU START to familiarize yourself with the stand-up comedy scene, there are some terms and phrases that you may start to hear. I want to give you a heads up on some of these terms so that you have a better understanding on what’s going on around you. Most pro shows will use the format of host, feature, headliner. Generally the host opens the show with anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes followed by a feature that does about fifteen to twenty minutes followed by headliner that does forty five minutes to an hour. This is not always the case but a good standard.
You will also hear about comedy showcases. These are the typical shows you will see newer comics. They will have seven or eight comics that each do anywhere from five to ten minutes each. Sometimes they will have a headliner that does more time but not always. One type of common showcase, especially in New York City is the bringer show. This is a type of show where the comedian has to bring a certain number of audience members typically three to five people. When I first started I did a bringer show that had twenty five new comics and I’d like to apologize to everyone that had to sit through that.
Another term you will hear is called getting passed. Getting passed at a comedy club means that the club likes you enough to consider booking you. It can also mean that you’re allowed to perform at Late Night which is a time slot after the main shows where anyone passed at the club can perform. They’re kind of like the best version of open mics. Sometimes a club will ask you to send them your avails which is a list of times you are available to perform.
When you are performing you will hear about the light a lot. The light is something that is flashed once when you have approximately 1-2 minutes left in your set. If you run the light which means that you go over your time the light will start to flash a bunch of times. Eventually if you keep on going, the host will just come onstage and get you physically. At my first ever open mic I ran the light and the host slowly made his way on the stage until I realized what was happening. I was really embarrassed but that’s comedy. It’s never a good idea to run the light especially if you are new and performing at a club for the first time.
Then there are some people you should be familiar with like managers, agents, bookers and club owners. One time I was talking to another pro comic that was giving me some advice on how to get stage time at a club. She told me to pick a club that I liked and start hanging out there. She said to keep coming back to that club, getting to know the staff and tip well. Eventually I would mention that I was a comedian and start to learn the process for getting passed at the club. If you continually show your face in the same club you will gradually get to know the people in charge and you never know when they might need a last minute performer.
Day 24: Go to a comedy club and introduce yourself to at least one person.