A message from 5 national bookers…

This week’s entry is for those who work the road, specifically one-nighters, mostly as feature acts.  This, I believe, is a large bulk of the industry, especially in the Midwest.  A lot of comics, including myself, get these gigs off of mailing lists.  Bookers email a few hundred of us at a time with an email that looks like this…

Who’s open?

1)West Plains, AK.
    (SAT)
    FEB 11
   $125 Plus Hotel
2) Gray Oaks, MI.
    (SAT)
    FEB 18
   $125 Plus Hotel

If we’re open, we reply back which gigs we’d be willing to work.  Usually we don’t get them because we’re up against hundreds of others.  It’s pretty much like applying to a job because the emails are basically “help wanted” ads.

To get on these mailing lists is not easy though I explain the process in my book.  One thing I didn’t go into enough detail on was the reply etiquette.  I took it for granted that comics who were trying to get work would have some.  So here are the pet peeves and tips from the bookers I emailed with about this problem:

1.  Be professional!  Don’t use slang or curse words.

2.  Decide ahead of time if you’re under/over qualified.  Stop writing, “I normally headline…” …they hate that.  Headlining some of these road gigs is nothing to pat yourself on the back for.

3.  Don’t lie about yourself.  We all talk to each other and have the internet.

4.  Only respond to the dates given.  Don’t write, “I can’t do that but do you have it open for the next month?”  The bookers are trying to book their dozens of rooms, not worry about your individual career.  And you’d better be able to do it.  Canceling goes on your record!

5.  Don’t ask for extra money.  Most of these gigs haven’t exactly been “selling out” since the economy crashed in ’08.

6.  Don’t ask to bring your own opener.  When you get to that point in your career you’ll be allowed.  Hint:  That point in your career doesn’t involve mass emails for bookings.  (By the way, my book also includes an extensive list of reasons, some with dignity, most without, about why headliners bring their own openers.  So ladies in your first year of comedy who are already featuring for someone who brought you along…you should probably read it).

7.  Writing ‘I might be able to do it, I’ll know in 3 weeks.  Can you hold it for me till then?’  No.  Absolutely not.

8.  Do not follow-up.  This isn’t a business job where they’re looking for extra effort.  They have enough emails in their inbox without you following up.

9.  Coming up with a lame excuse/ begging as to why THEY should get the gig… ‘My dad just died of polio, I wrecked my car, it’s perfect routing, I could really use the money’ is also looked down upon.

10.  When you reply, just write which gig (with date) you are available for and include your name and phone number.  Nothing else is needed.  Write the email in standard letter form.  DO NOT CALL THEM.

There you have it.  All ten of these were given to me by various bookers who were all happy to share this with you.  And again, more tips on how to make money in Don’t Wear Shorts on StageAvailable by clicking HERE.

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About Rob Durham

With an English Degree, three years as a doorman at the Columbus Funnybone, over a decade of stand-up experience, and a recent certification in teaching high school English class, writing a book seemed like the next inevitable step for Rob Durham. The son of a coach, Rob has an excellent ability to teach and explain things in the easiest and most direct way possible. His (often labeled ridiculous) memory allows him to think of every possible situation that a new comic might face because at one point he was there too. Rob gives an inside look at comedy that doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges every performer faces. Without ego and the myth that “anyone can do it” Rob gives the reader a true feel of what living the so-called dream feels like, from preparing for that first open mic night to touring the country. View all posts by Rob Durham

2 responses to “A message from 5 national bookers…

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