Until you have a big enough name to land a door deal, you need the club more than they need you. For a booker or club manager to book you at least once or twice a year, they need to see your name and not instantly think about potential problems. Think like a mananger: “Is this comic worth the trouble? Yes, I like him/her, but last time there was that incident with…”
If you can keep a clean slate, you’re much more likely to get annual work from solid clubs. Some of these tips seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many fellow comics don’t follow them. Handling yourself professionally has almost more to do with your actions off stage than on.
1. Show up early enough. It’s easy to form a reputation as a last-minute comic who keeps the manager wondering. They have 100 other things to worry about on show night (such as the new bartender and the bachelorette party of 20) so it’s an extra kick in the pants if you add more stress. Use an app like Waze to make sure your route is clear. If it’s a longer trip, send them a text or email to let them know you arrived to their city. It’s scary thinking how a guy had to travel from two time zones away and you haven’t heard anything from him all day…and it’s his first time at your club.
2. Hotel etiquette! I had a fifteen-minute wait on Friday for my check-in. I didn’t complain, but instead kept a smile on my face. Mention your name and the fact that you’re the comic at whatever club to help them find you in their reservation list. (The La Quinta in Columbia gives you bottled water and free cookies!) The hotel and the club have a tight professional relationship, and they’ll be sure to report back any problems to the manager if you give them reason to.
3. Don’t abuse free drinks/food. Along with hurting the expenses in these tough times, you also can’t afford to make an ass of yourself before/during/after the show. I’ve seen even some of the top headliners take too many shots before a show and have bad sets. (Not to mention the DUI rates of comics) If a manager knows he/she has to stock an extra case of Red Bull or another bottle of Jack just because it’s your week, they’re likely to pass you up for another comic. As far as food, stick to the basics instead of the entrees. Take what they give you, tip everyone involved, and NEVER complain about anything that is free.
4. Avoid conflicts– Heckling happens, but if it happens to you every time you’re at a club, that’s not a coincidence. Managers don’t want to have to staff an extra doorman or keep watch themselves. You know what a manager’s favorite thing to do during a show is? …Not have to watch it. Don’t get personally involved with the waitstaff either. You can be friendly, but if you cause some sort of issue with one every time you’re in town, that’s extra stress for management. Basically, don’t sleep with them.
These road tips and many others are all a part of the later chapters of Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage. Amazon has put it on sale so if you haven’t bought a copy, now is a good time to do so. It’s also available on pretty much every e-book format including Kindle and iTunes.