Running a comedy club is fun. Mostly. I get to hang out with comics, perform every night, and the hours are tough to beat. It's probably the best job I've ever had, but there are still things about it that get under my skin. Hecklers, drunks, and people who are easily offended bother me, but besides my Mom (who is sometimes all three at once), most of them are easy enough to handle. I don't enjoy the administrative duties - I never know how many paper clips to order or how to make a kick ass facebook cover photo - but they're a small part of the gig.
One of the things I love the most is giving the local comics opportunities to do "guest sets". I got A LOT of breaks from good people when I was starting and I'm thrilled to be in a position to return the favor. What I don't love is that there's not much thought put into the etiquette of doing some time in a comedy club.
THERE'S ETIQUETTE INVOLVED IN DOING COMEDY?!? you ask.
The following is my own personal list of dos and don'ts for your guest set. I'm a crotchety old guy who took tickets, ran the sound, and cleaned up bodily fluids I wasn't even aware existed to get my first stage time in a real comedy club, so keep that in mind. I may seem harsh here, and it is actually my intention.
DO: Show up at least a half an hour before the show starts. I wanna know you're ready to go. It's not my responsibility to get in touch with you to see if you're still coming.
DON'T: Grab yourself 3 or 4 of the bottled waters from the green room. The club pays for those. I don't mind if you have one or two, but AT LEAST ask first
DO: Dress appropriately. The audience has paid to get in, they don't deserve to see you in an Amerian Eagle T-shirt, ripped jeans and flip flops. NO ONE deserves to see that, come to think of it.
DON'T: Do jokes that people who don't live in Reno won't understand. Your Sun Valley material probably kills at open mic, but people from Ohio don't know what the fuck you're talking about. You're in a comedy club in Reno, where most nights more than half of the audience is from somewhere else.
DO: Your time. If we agree on 5 minutes, that doesn't mean 2 minutes of "Thanks for coming out nice to be here how many locals blah blah blah" and THEN 5 minutes. The one sure-fire way to NEVER get on in the club again is to go over your time.
DON'T: Ask me for time every week. A comedy club with a paid audience isn't the place to work out your newest rape joke. When I give you a guest set, I wanna see if you can handle the room in case I need someone to work someday.
DO: Well. Give me your best 5 or 10 minutes. Don't engage the crowd or try to riff. Again, I wanna see if I can pay you to work the club when I need someone.
DON'T: Only come around when you're doing your guest set. If you stop by the club to see if you can help out in some way (at the door, flyers, etc.) I'm much more likely to give you stage time. Not to be a dick, but I don't NEED you.
DO: Promote your guest set on facebook, twitter, etc. and let your friends and followers know about any discounts the club offers.
DON'T: Ask me how many people you can comp in. I'm running a business and the biggest part of that is selling tickets. When you get to the level of working the club officially, you get to have a guest list. Not before.
Keep in mind, this is just my PERSONAL list. Other clubs may have more stringent or less asshole-y requirements. Less asshole-y would be my guess. I know some comics (of the few who'll even take the time to read it) will find this insulting. Those aren't the ones I wanna help anyway. They can work their rape / pedophilia / sex with livestock jokes out at Toastmasters or in a bar "filled" with other comics. For those that already do the right thing, thanks, and I'll see you at the club.
Oh! I almost forgot. I have a new bit I wanted to try:
Two pedophiles walk into a pet store looking for a new kitten...