Pay Money
In cities like Los Angeles and New York there are so many comedians that not everyone will get booked on shows and not everyone will even have time to get up at the free open mics, some clubs have capitalized this and charge comedians $5-$10 to get up on stage and try their jokes. Many will offer services such as filming your set with a cheap camcorder and charging you for it.

Bark
To me this is the least evil option, many people want to perform so bad that they will stand outside the venue with tickets and basically beg foot traffic passing by to watch the show. This creates a real audience for comedians to perform for. I also feel as though barking is a good warm up exercise to get the juices flowing. Working for your stage time makes you appreciate it that much more. New York is known to have a lot of this and comedians such as Aziz Ansari started this way.

Bringer Shows
These are pretty much pure evil, the deal is each comedian brings anywhere from 3-10 people, and then they will get to perform. The nice part about it is each comedian does get to perform in front of a real audience. The bad part, each comedian makes the club or producer a lot of money just for some stage time and gets nothing in return. Many producers will even try to trick you into it, saying “we require you bring people to support you” or “this isn’t a bringer show but if you don’t bring anyone you can’t perform.” Also many of the audience’s first impression of stand up is watching new comedians and therefor only want to go see comedy again if it is to see there favorite big name.

Perform In Weird Locations For Nobody
Bars, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, and Laundry Rooms are just some of the places where comedians will go for a stage, many times there will be no real audience members or people who are not their for comedy.

Competitions
The coolest part about comedy is everyone has their own taste on what is funny. Many people have different styles and many people have a different favorite comedian. Competitions are 90% bullshit because comedians in many cases are judged on applause in which case whichever comedian brought the most people will win. Or there will be a panel of judges in which case the competition is based on three subjective opinions.

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So are we saying new comedians shouldn’t do any of these things for stage time? No… In fact many of these shitty gigs will most likely help/motivate you to grow and build connections with other comics… but try to move up from these.

What’s the worst thing you have done for stage time?

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar photo

    The worst thing that I ever did was drive for a couple hours to a dingy little pizza house where I was asked to go into a back room and perform part of my act for the manager. He said that he didn’t like it; so I he asked me to strip -allowing me to leave my socks on.

    After 3 hours of sodomy, experimental photography, and two games of cribbage, I was given 7 minutes of stage time.

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