Hey Dave – I’ve heard some comics think I’m a jerk because of how I run my open-mic room. I try to keep the show on schedule. I like comics being on time and like comics sticking to their time on stage. I’ve had to yell at a few for almost breaking my equipment and throwing stuff at other comics on stage. I’ve put a lot of work into making this successful and would like people to respect the club and the way I run it.
I don’t have to give everyone time on stage and can turn people away if I want to, but I typically don’t. And since no one has said directly to me about how much of a “jerk” I am, it’s apparent that I’m not too big of a jerk to stop them from coming back for stage time.
The way I see it, I’m doing them a favor. And if they want to find their own room and buy their own speakers, microphones, stands and wires, then they can run their room the way they want. Then, when 15 people are ignoring their light to get off stage they can probably understand my frustrations. – Open-Mic Producer
Hey Open-Mic Producer – I LOVE your attitude! AND I think you are absolutely correct in how you’re running your open-mic room.
Comics – at least the ones who someday want to be considered professional working comics – need a lot of on stage experience. And because they should be thankful someone is giving them this valuable experience, they have to respect not only the club, but also any rules that keep it running smoothly.
This is your room Mr. Producer. You started it, you’re the one running it – and you’ve supplied the needed equipment, such as a microphone, mic stand and speakers, to make this a performance space. In other words, YOU are responsible for making it successful enough to continue giving aspiring comedians a place to gain the on stage experience they need.
The way I feel about it – they can play the game your way or they can play it somewhere else.
Done. Period. No argument from anyone else is needed.
That’s also the way all successful comedy clubs and other performance venues are run by management. I know because I’ve worked for the best in the biz and have firsthand experience.
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I’m sure working comics would cringe – or laugh in horror – if an aspiring comic totally disregarded the amount of time he was given on stage at The Improv in Los Angeles. Especially if the word came directly from Budd Friedman himself, who was responsible for making his club successful. And in the process of ignoring the light, the comic damaged the equipment or threw something at another comic?
Oh, the horror… Oh, the humanity…
Oh, the fact this jerk just blew his chance to ever perform at that club again. It’s not smart and it’s definitely not professional.
That’s how you should run your room – whether it’s an open-mic or an established comedy club. It’s also how comedians should respond to your efforts – as professionals.
I know this sounds more like a lecture than advice and to be honest, it’s both. It’s important for aspiring comedians to know the value of what you’re giving them, even if it’s a bringer show where you are required to bring a certain number of paying customers to get a performance spot.
Without customers the open-mic can’t stay in business. When they’re not in business, aspiring comedians have one less place to gain important stage experience. If you don’t believe me – do the math.
Okay, to go along with the lecture and advice, here’s some inspiration and motivation:
As a comedian running an open-mic (and I know the writer of this question fits that category) this is just a temporary situation. At least it should be. You are also putting in the effort to run a successful open-mic to get necessary and valuable stage time.
At least you should be.
Whether you are hosting every show or doing a short set, your main focus – besides keeping control over everything that makes the club successful so it continues – is getting better as a comedian. Work on your material and performance every time you get on stage.
Yeah, some aspiring comedians might think you’re a jerk when you crack down on them for breaking your rules. But if your efforts, talent and dedication help your goals become reality, the ones who are still goofing around at open-mics, ignoring the light, throwing stuff at other comics on stage – and gave you crap – will be wondering where they went wrong.
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Dave Schwensen is the author of How To Be A Working Comic: An Insider’s Business Guide To A Career In Stand-Up Comedy, Comedy FAQs And Answers: How The Stand-Up Biz Really Works, and Comedy Workshop: Creating & Writing Comedy Material for Comedians & Humorous Speakers.
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