I realized that I’ve hit the one-year mark for this blog and my book’s birthday is a month away as well. Book sales for Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage have stayed consistent on Amazon (though I fell short of my goal of 1,000,000 copies sold). The blog will be taking a small break until the new year. Until then, please visit the appendix on my page that has a list of every entry’s title. Skim through and see if there’s anything you missed or want to revisit…
EVERY ENTRY LISTED HERE!
Enjoy the holiday season, please share any comments. Thanks!
Most one-nighter gigs at bars don’t have an MC for the show. If they do, it’s the bar manager or DJ just introducing you…very poorly (I can’t stress how awful most of them are at this). I’ve found they like to start the show late, but then wait until you’re going to the restroom or trying to get a drink to take on stage and then out of nowhere, you hear your name–mispronounced, your intro butchered, something about you that steps on one of your jokes, and all without any enthusiasm. You then start your thirty minutes to an awkward beginning (sometimes the sound still needs to be adjusted) with a cold crowd who is probably inexperienced to live comedy. There’s one way to avoid this and make your set go 100 times better. Bring an MC.
Obviously you don’t want to have to share a room on the road with some kid you don’t know, but if it’s within a three or four hour drive and you’re not staying the night, have someone tag along. You might not even have to pay them, just buy them a few drinks. Or if they’re hungry enough to improve in comedy, they’ll do it for free. You’re not using someone if it’s helping their career (you are, but it’s okay, they’re getting something out of it too). I know I would’ve loved to experience different stages on the road just to get five or ten minutes of stage time in. And what better way for a new comic to see what it’s really like out there. (*After revising this, yeah, throw’em a few bucks if it’s an out of town gig.)
Opening a show is one of the toughest things to do in the business. Give the burden to someone else and help them get better at the same time. The bar manager shouldn’t have a problem with it because they don’t know anything about comedy in the first place (as they’ll show). If you and your MC act professional, there shouldn’t be any problems.
To any comics at the MC level, there are a ton of tips on how-to MC in my book, Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage. For comics new to featuring, I’ve included a lot of other useful advice for the road.
On Saturday night I did a gig at a Moose Lodge (shut up, it paid really well) in a small town in Ohio. I got there around forty-five minutes before showtime and found the guy in charge. When you get to a one-nighter, especially at a place that has never had a comedy show, there should be a small checklist of things in place. You don’t have to be a diva, but it’s not too much to ask for a certain set of requirements. I have a much bigger section about this in my book, Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage, but here are two that I used to overlook years ago.
The first is the lighting. Most places will have a stage area with at least some sort of stage lighting even when there isn’t a stage. Even more importantly is the house lighting on the audience because it needs to be minimal. Unfortunately that can’t always be adjusted, but usually you can find someone to help. House lights hurt the crowd and comic and you really don’t want to see what’s going on while you’re trying to perform.
The second thing is to make sure there isn’t going to be any show interruptions by outside sounds. You’d be surprised how close to the stage a bartender will start working on a frozen drink. Look for rowdy tables that have no idea they’ll need to stop talking soon. Sometimes at larger venues there are other rooms that have bands or other events going on. Once I was at a show where I had to get up and shut a door every time the servers went through. The back half of the audience was flooded with the sound of the band in the next room every time someone needed a drink. I finally found a manager and explained the problem while the MC was performing.
Next week I’ll explain the benefits of having an MC at a one-nighter. Until then, don’t be afraid to let a venue know how they can make the show better (see how I phrased that?). These things are also helpful if you’re setting up an open mic. Again, lots more about this in my book.