Well at the early stage of your comedy career, you’re probably thinking you’re going to be grateful for any bookings and the venue, ambience and type of audience don’t matter. To a degree this might be true, but you would be better taking the time to find the venue and kind of audience that it best for you. You will surely be appreciated more and personally have a better experience if you find a club with an audience that best fits with your kind of material and routine.
So, when you start trying to attract bookings, there are some things you should be familiar with and some factors you should consider. Do some research on what type of club it is, what other style of stand up comedians perform there and what is generally the make up of the audience.
Check what area you are given to perform on. Particularly if you use physical comedy or need space for props, make sure the stage area is of an adequate size that allows you the space you need to perform with confidence and comfort. If you are cramped or have to inhibit your usual routine and style this is likely to leave you feeling less confident and the audience may sense this and you will struggle to win them over.
If you include any contentious material or obscene language you must always check whether the club accepts this. They will usually advise if they have any rules on content or delivery.
Whilst you are starting out and happy to gain experience, the fee might be less important, but check you are happy with the fee rates the club is offering. Although as with anything in life, you will endeavour to negotiate a decent fee, don’t be too ambitious in your requests and lose an opportunity for a good gig because you’ve been greedy.
If you are serious in pursuing regular bookings, you could consider signing with a comedy club booking agency. These can sometimes prove to be advantageous as they usually have excellent working knowledge of the various venues and opportunities available to you, they have good business contacts and can more easily find the venues that work best for you.
However you decide to proceed, good luck and happy hunting.
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As an aspiring stand up comedian before you even begin to worry about refining your on-stage performance, you need to concentrate on having good quality, funny material. Since you can never have too much material, you should be always on the look out for ideas for your routine. You’ve probably already discovered that there is a big difference between cracking the odd jokes to family and friends and the pressure of getting on stage and pulling off a polished, timed comedy performance.
So where do you start when it comes to writing your own material? Successful comedians tend to use their own life experiences and observations, so my advice would be to always stick to what you know. Not only will this make writing easier, but if you do write material from your own interests and experiences, the audience will sense the personal connection and it makes your comedy more relatable. So, look at your own lifestyle and interests and you’ll begin to see topics you can use for your comedy material. For example, if you are still living at home, situations that arise from sharing living space and your relationship with extended family could be a source. If you have just got married, there will probably be plenty of situations in your new relationship/lifestyle that can give rise to ideas for material for your stand up routine. Observations from the workplace, visits to the gym, people watching at the coffee shop, a trip to the market, attending a football game, the list goes on.
If you are a little bit more edgy in your material, you may want to feature current events in your routine. In that case, make sure you keep up to date with current affairs and review your content regularly to ensure it is not out of date and irrelevant. Also, remember that some current events can be considered controversial or uninteresting to some, so be ready for the reaction this type of comedy material might attract.
Note down any ideas that come to mind during your daily life and come back to them when you are writing. Hopefully those ideas/observations can be expanded into comedy material for your routine.
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First gaining notoriety following his recurrent role on the second season of Chappelle’s Show, Bill is now a familiar face on the stand up comedy circuit as well as appearing on a number of TV shows.
Referred to as a ‘comedian’s comedian’ by some observers of the U.S. stand up comedy circuit, his work is followed and appreciated by the public and fellow professional comedians alike.
As well as success in the field of stand up comedy, Bill records a weekly one hour-podcast covering various personal experiences and observations and can also be seen in the fourth and fifth season of ‘Breaking Bad’.
If you’ve not had the chance to catch any of Bill’s sets, I’ve just included a few of my personal choices from his stand up routine: