Brian Zuanich at the Cohiba ClubOne of the biggest complaints I receive from comics and students trying to get mic time is that “everything seems to be a bringer show.”

Several of my students “burned out” their bringers, early in the game, just trying to get more time on stage to develop their act and build to thirty minutes:

Which leads me to the second most popular complaint: “How’s a comic develop 30-minutes when the only spots in town are six minute sets or, at most, ten?”

If you’re not familiar with the “bringer show,” read my post on bringer shows:

Let’s face it, a comedian has limited opportunities to play longer sets where he doesn’t have to worry about packing the room with his family and friends. So instead of complaining, let’s try to find solutions.

One of the best ways to get around the bringer show trap is to set up your own room. That’s right! Find a bar or restaurant or lounge that is a good location for a comedy room and pitch the idea to the owner.

In setting up a comedy room there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Let the owner know why it might be good for their business. Keep in mind, the only thing they are concerned about is how it will benefit their business. If they don’t see the benefit, then they probably won’t like your offer. Once you give them your best pitch and they can’t see the benefit, then move on to the next room.
  • Try to set the room up outside of the L.A. or your city’s perimeter. L.A. is filled with a glut of rooms. Your odds are better if you get to the outskirts of town.
  • Book quality comedians.
  • Set the show up professionally.
  • Run a tight show that runs about an hour and a half to an hour and forty-five.

Two of my students, David Conolly and Brian Zuanich, decided to set up a room in Long Beach at the Cohiba Club at the pier. They set up a curtain, lights and sound because they wanted to “transform” the club into what resembled at comedy club. They did a great job too! They put on their first show January 28th. The show was standing-room only. They put quality comedians on the stage, (all students from my Stand Up Comedy Class) and the audience loved it.

The owner did well at the bar (They had a bar/door split, where the club kept the bar and Brian and David kept the door). As a result of the successful evening, the owner told them, that normally he doesn’t do this because comedy “sucks.” But this group was a “class above the rest.” Now they are to have a regular show once a month in Long Beach.

Once they have this successful formula in place they just need to duplicate it in different locations outside the L.A. perimeter and they could wind up with weekly shows.

Keep in mind that your job as the show producer is to  keep the best quality comedians on the bill and allow for one new person per week. If you consistently have good comedic talent on the stage and you have relentless promotion, then you might have some success, although there are no guarantees. Comedy rooms can be more fickle than a 9th grader during a first kiss. (I can say that because I was a ninth grader once and during my first kiss:the only thing I remember is that she told everyone how fickle I was).

Promoting and producing a comedy show as a comedian can be beneficial in multiple ways. You will benefit from booking your own room, building relationships with other comedians who want work and getting work from those other comedians who book rooms.

The bigger your network of comedians and friends in the business, the more opportunities come your way in the long run.

So go get a room and watch your reputation grow.

Jerry Corley
Jerry Corley

Jerry Corley is a professional comedian of nearly 30 years, working nearly every venue imaginable.