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How To Get Booked At A Comedy Club – Part Three

This week we will address how to get booked at a comedy club other than your hometown venue. If that out of town club is close enough, you should definitely make an effort to go through their open mics and repeat the process as if it was your hometown venue.

(Last week, we talked about taking the most common approach clubs take when bumping a performer up from open mic to emcee. If you missed that post CLICK HERE.)

When I started out in Columbus, OH I traveled to Akron, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Youngstown. The drives were between one and three hours each way, but I considered them as a local club. So, you will need to decide your level of commitment as far as what is truly “out of town.” For me, that meant “out of state.”

To get in at those clubs, I had to try a few different approaches. But the primary goal was to get a “showcase” set at the desired club in front of the person in charge of booking openers.

First, I would try to make a connection to the club through a comedian I had met or worked with in my local club.

For example, lets say I got to emcee at my home club for a headlining comic from Indianapolis. If my week went well, and I became friends with that headliner, I would ask them what their home club was. Then I would ask what the process is at that club for out-of-towners to showcase there.

If the headliner responds, “It’s virtually impossible to get stage time at my home club,” that is code for, “you aren’t ready for that club yet.”

If they reply with specifics, you better jot down the info and act on it while your name still resonates with that headliner. In a few weeks it is highly likely that they won’t be able to put a name with your face. It’s just the nature of the business.

If you can’t get info from a headliner about the out of town club, the next approach would be to network with other comics from that club. Middle or feature acts are a little closer to the newbie process and should have some insight on how to break through and get a showcase.

If you don’t have a connection to anyone in that out of town club, it can be pretty hard to get in. You might consider reaching out to other local comics who have a connection there, or you can try the cold call to the box office and see what the process is.

You may get lucky and get a contact number and a time to call back. More often than not, you’ll get an empty answer and no info.

Sound hard? It is.

Sound impossible? It’s not.

The overall message here is to be constantly building your network of fellow comics. Offer help to them in any way possible. They will reciprocate. Make notes and keep track of who works where, and what each club’s process is for lining up showcases for new comics. Be purposeful (not overbearing or irritating) in your efforts to connect with that person in charge at each club.

If all else fails, be ready to hit the road and work through the open mic process at your desired club. Get to know the staff, manager and other comics there. If you are ready (see part one), you should be offered a chance to showcase and eventually work.

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