business of stand-up comedy

The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: Establish a Business – Part 1

Greg Dean Greg's Blog, How to Be a Comedian

business of stand-up comedy

In this article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy Establish a Business – Part 1, offer several essential actions you can take to effectively run your business of being a professional stand-up comedian.


You are entering Show Business. There are two words in this phrase. Show, means that you are a comic who crafts a show and makes people laugh. Business means that you are an office worker who calls owner/bookers and talks them into hiring you as a comic. You must be equally good at both aspects of show business.

If you’re only good at the show, you’ll be funny, but not working. If you are good at the business, yet unfunny, you’ll work in clubs only once. You must be good at both. To become a comic, you’ve had to deal with rejection from an audience, but you’ve stuck it out and developed your show.

As your own nightclub appearance agent, you must deal with the rejection from club owners and owner/bookers in search for work. You’ve persevered as a comic, and now you must persevere as your own office worker to get gigs.

• Create an Office

So what if your office is a crappy apartment, you still need to set up an area to organize your promo materials. Dedicate a corner and create stacks of pictures, and other promo materials. The more successful you become the more room you’ll need for a variety of different types of gigs, like: comedy clubs, cruise ships, colleges, corporate, etc..

Each venue has its own requirements for promo materials as well as different lengths and quality of shows. That is to say, if you are submitting to a club, the show can be a little more blue. If it is corporate, the show must be squeaky clean. There are cruise ships that have early shows that must be clean and late night show that can be dirty.

You need to collect an array of resumes, promo materials and DVDs that’ll fit the appropriate venue. If you’re organized, then all you have to do is compile the materials from your media area and mail or email it. Also, as you get things together these same items can be made available on your website, and then clients can check it out from their computers.

It’s time to join the modern age because there are a great deal of marginally talented comics with great promotion and websites that are getting work. If they can do it, so can you.

• Get Basic Technology

In a world more and more dependent on technology, you need to have at least the minimum technology to run your business. There are several essential items you’ll need to run your stand-up comedy business.

Computer – I don’t care how techno-phobic you are; if you don’t have a computer . . . you do not have a business. Select the software programs compatible with the majority of other businesses…which means Microsoft.

If you are already a Mac person, chances are you know what you are doing already. I am assuming you’re starting from ground zero, so you need to invest in a standard computer with Word as your word processing program and a printer.

With these tools you can write and send cover letters, make resumes and create other literature that will be requested as you get more work.

Email capabilities – Make sure you have software that includes Outlook. Outlook is software for email and building a database. It’ll help you organize business correspondences and remind you to follow up as well as compile a list of fans so you can keep them informed as to where you are appearing.

More and more business is being done on the Internet by email. There are some club booker/owners who will only do business by email. If you don’t already have email, get it now. If you want to do business like a professional, then you need the technology of a professional.

DVD Burner – You may need to send some DVDs to booker or have some for your Promo Kits. But the real reason is If you capture a really great 30 to 60 minute show you can sell it, after the show, in the lobby. Many comics make as much money selling their DVDs and other merchandise as they do on the gig. Merchandising is all part of the professional stand-up comedy game.

In my next article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: Establish a Business – Part 2, I’ll discuss social networking, and how to build a website for free.

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