Monthly Archives: December 2014

What to do when you’re hosting and the headliner bails early…

This is a rare situation as headliners are often known for doing more than enough time, but occasionally one will abandon his or her set early.  It’s very rare at a one-nighter because it’s likely that the owner of the bar will greet them with, “Get your ass back up there or I’m not paying you.”  At a comedy club it can lead to a major problem…the checks haven’t been collected yet.

Granted, headliners should be able to look around the room and see when the servers are handling the checks, but sometimes they still bail.  It can even be on purpose because they’re not getting along with the club.  If there are 200 people at a show and a dozen checks are still out while the show ends, that sends the staff into a panic. So what should the MC do?

After giving everyone another round of applause, announce that you’re still aware that some of the checks are still out and the server will be right with you.  Do ALL of the announcements over from tipping to upcoming acts–really expand on the plugs.  If you didn’t cover birthdays or other celebrations earlier, get to those.  If you did cover them earlier and you’re out of announcements, do some crowd work with those people.  You pretty much have to take one for the team.  The manager won’t care how you’re doing up there, as long as the servers have time to collect everyone’s tab.  They’ll give you a light when that happens and then you can finally end the show.

Hosts normally don’t like to listen to the headliner every minute of every show.  If you’re sitting out at the bar waiting for the 45-minute mark, here are some clues that the headliner might bail early…

1.  It’s the first or last show of the week.

2.  They went way over their time in a previous show.

3.  They don’t get along with the club.

4.  They’re a big name known for something else other than stand-up comedy and haven’t paid their dues on the road.

5.  They’ve been bombing all week.

6.  They’re drunk.

For more tips on how to become a working comic, try reading Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage in paperback or ebook format (Kindle, Nook, iTunes, etc.).

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3 tips for corporate Christmas parties

‘Tis the season It’s time to finally chip away at those credit card bills by booking a few corporate Christmas parties.  Not everyone can do these well as they’re very challenging.  If you’re headlining Christmas parties, you probably don’t need this blog.  If you’re an opener, follow these tips:

1.  Ask for a little more if a headliner asks you to open.  In other words, $100 or even $150 is probably way less than the close to $1000 they’re getting.  These gigs are challenging and you should be compensated for that.

2.  Stay clean and universal.  This month alone is the main reason to have a clean set in your notebook.  If you can establish to a headliner that you can work clean, the gigs will keep coming.  Also, during a work party, a lot of people won’t laugh at something they think will offend their boss or coworkers.  It’s not just material about sex–talking about politics, homosexuality, race, religion or anything edgy is going to make them feel uncomfortable.  Even if it works at every other show during the year, this crowd will be tougher.  If you can, write some quick local humor.  Stay away from making fun of the boss.  Save crowd work like that for the headliner.

3.  Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go well.  It probably won’t.  That’s why headliners set such high prices for these. They’re almost secretly hoping it’s declined.  You were brought to break the ice for them, not to kill.  The conditions you’ll perform in are often the furthest thing from a comedy club.  The headliner will understand this and appreciate you being the sacrificial lamb.  If you do somehow do well, great!

I wrote about several of these experiences in my book Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage including the time I did a noon gig in a break room with no mic for $50 (there are at least 4 things wrong with that booking).  It also discusses how to handle a lot of other types of shows you’ll perform at over the years.  Today is cyber Monday, so pick one up on Amazon, iTunes, Nook, Kindle, etc.