comedy Paul Clemente

Paul Clemente: Local Comedian? Part 4: Booking

2:18:00 PMPaul

Photo by CHQ Music Seen

Look at this goddamn idiot. That's me; Paul Clemente local ... comedian? ...

In every group of comedians, in every town, in every scene there is one dummy who internally proclaims, "This is good, I like this, people will pay to see this." This is how bookers are born.

Bookers are the ones who approach a bar owner who graciously open their doors already for a local open mic and pitch the idea of doing exactly the same thing the comedians are already doing but thinking somehow people will pay for it.

"I'll make a thing on social media!" the Booker exclaims with the sparkle of a packed house in their eyes.

"We can charge at the door?" the Booker adds, dispondant, while making an event on Facebook.

Then without warning or reason there are local showcases in your sleepy town.

All kidding aside, somehow this has become one of my roles in the comedy landscape in Jamestown, NY. I enjoy it and I hate it. It gives me anxiety contacting venues, marketing comedy in a way that venues are receptive to comedy, negotiating pay, setting up social media promotion, creating a flyer that doesn't look like an accident in MS Paint, having / setting up equipment, picking comedians, having those comedian pick music, and making people laugh within a time limit I imposed upon myself.

OCD at it's finest.

After completing all of these things I get the enviable, "Hey man ... how come you didn't book me." Don't get me wrong, this is a fair question. It's uncomfortable for someone to ask something like that. It's uncomfortable to answer that question in most cases.

Instead of being a negative piece of shit, I am going to try and share what I -personally- look for when I try to fill time at shows.

  1. Be. A. Good. Person. : This is probably the most important thing I can think of. Above everything, no matter how funny you truly are, if you're a shitty person no one will want to book you. It's that simple. People who book shows want someone who is - of course - funny but they are also looking for people they can count on, people they can communicate with, and people they can share a laugh with outside of the show. If you go to any Open Mic with the intention of making yourself known to the comedians in the area, stay for the whole show and shake some hands afterwards. All comedians have similar experiences and it's so easy to make friends in this industry. Seriously, just be a good person and good things will happen to you.
  2. Come to the Open Mic: Unless we know each other personally, there is no way I can tell what kind of person you are without meeting you in person. There have been several times I have met a comedian and within a few minutes I can tell whether we can work together or not. Additionally, coming to the Open Mic shows that you are willing to travel to the place that the shows you want to be booked on. Attending the Mic will also give a sample of what kind of comedy you can offer and what venues you can be booked at.
  3. Be funny: For some people comedy is a hobby, for some people it is a progressive form of therapy, but it's primary use is for comedians to practice their craft. You can't expect people to pay to see something they can do themselves. What separates you from the loudest person at the bar? If you have to think about it, maybe lower your expectations. When hockey players practice they hit the ice, when chess players practice they go to the ... chess store?, when comedians practice they go to Open Mics. The end goal in this entire process is to be funny. If you tell some jokes and it doesn't work, re write it or lose it all together. Only crazy people blame the audience for a bad set or a bomb. If your material walks the room, maybe consider changing things up. Be funny and opportunity will come knocking.

Those three simple things will open doors for you, I promise. There is no harm in asking for notes on a set or talking to the local person who books shows in your area.  Communication is key just like in most things. You may hear some feedback that may be difficult to hear, however, take that feedback, consider it and try and learn from it. No one is perfect and even A-level comedians work new material to the bone, constantly editing, trying it live, editing some more, going to a mic, editing more. This is hard work and a never-ending process. The three things listed above will get you at least 50% of the way there.

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