A few weeks ago I got a call from a booking agency. A friend who works for them gave them my name because he wasn’t able to work a gig. The woman on the phone described the gig to me and explained that they only needed about twenty clean minutes during an afternoon. It was for some IT guys at a local business.
I figured, twenty minutes, it’s probably not going to go over that well since they’re IT guys (I’m not wrong here in my stereotyping), hmm, it’s a weekday and actually an afternoon gig (it’s REALLY not going to go well), how about 200 bucks.
“Okay, that’ll work,” she says. At this point I’m already kicking myself because if they agree to your first offer you could’ve gotten more. Then she crushed me with her next statement. “It should be for about 600 people. They work for Monsanto.”
If you think about the budget for this large corporate party, feeding 600 people is thousands of dollars…so how much would they be willing to spend on entertainment? MORE THAN $200. Hell, the agency could’ve tacked on another grand and they would not have blinked.
So I’ve been kicking myself for the past three weeks knowing that I could’ve paid for the $938 replacement to my car’s air compressor in 20 minutes of work. But this is titled, “How I almost lost hundreds of dollars…” isn’t it?
Yesterday I got an email from the agency saying the company canceled the outing. So honestly, I’m a lot less upset about losing a $200 gig than an $800 gig.
So the tip is: If you’re unsure about how much to charge, you can calculate by how many people will be there. If it’s only thirty or forty people, you can feel okay about only charging a couple hundred bucks. If it’s hundreds of people from a lucrative corporation, the sky is the limit! You don’t have to declare a price during that call. Tell the booker, you need to calculate a few things and you’ll get back to them shortly. Then, ask other comics in your area for an estimate of what they would charge. Call them back with your first offer and don’t make the stupid mistake I made on a whim. $200 to us comics is a lot of money, but to these companies it’s absolutely nothing. The tougher the gig, the more you should charge.
Speaking of affordable, (and bad transitions), check out my book Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage for more tips on how to make money and wise decisions in comedy.