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How To Put Together A Great College Comedy Show

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Hey there College Activities Programming Board Person! Congrats on deciding to have a comedy show at your school! Now relax and know your students will have a great time. Especially if you follow the tips below that were gained from years of performing at lots of different colleges.



Book a comedian that’s right for your school! If you’re at a religious seminary in the South, the type of comedian most students will enjoy might differ from what students at a small liberal arts college in the northeast will respond to. All the comedians that I know who perform at colleges are funny professionals who’ll do a good job in almost any environment, but watch a few comedian’s videos and try to guess the best fit. For example, Jerry Seinfeld is great, but he probably won’t be the best fit for Live at The Apollo. If you have any language or content restrictions, make sure to let the comedian know that at least one week before the show so they can plan their material accordingly. Don’t announce restrictions minutes before the show starts, when the comedian has already decided on the material they will be doing at the show!




Once you choose a comedian and a date is set a few months into the future (don’t schedule events during midterm or finals week!), start doing your online marketing, except for email blasts. Add the comedy show to your school’s calendar of events and other such places.


When it’s two weeks to show time:

– Send your first email blast. Students don’t make plans months into the future, so if you email too soon, you risk getting ignored.

– Make sure to create and put up nice looking flyers all over campus. Especially at social places like dining halls, dorm lounges and on bulletin boards outside of large lecture halls. The more students that come to the show, the better the energy, the bigger the laughs, the better time everyone has. While you can still have a great comedy show for ten or twenty students, it’ll be much better for everyone if you can get fifty or five hundred. I recommend having the minimal amount of text possible and making that font size very large. All you really need is the comedian’s photo and name, the location and date, and clarify if there’s an admission fee or if the event is free.


Example flyer text:


Comedian Ben Rosenfeld

Fri Sep 24 @ 8pm

Scott Hall Theatre



^That’s all you need!



The Room

This is the most important and underrated part of the show. How a room gets setup for comedy makes a huge difference for how well the show goes. The best practices:

  • If you can reserve a theatre or lecture hall with a stage, do that. Rooms that are already setup for performance are better than cafeterias, classrooms or multipurpose rooms because everything is already perfectly configured.If you can’t have the show in a theatre space or lecture hall with a stage, do the following:
  • Make sure there’s a microphone, a spotlight and maybe even a stage.
  • You have to a microphone that’s connected to working speakers. I highly recommend using a corded microphone. Cordless mics are great ideas, until something goes wrong and ruins the momentum of the show. If you insist on a cordless mic, have a backup wired mic hidden towards the back of the stage so that the comedian can quickly switch over without causing distraction.
  • If you don’t have an actual spotlight, at least make it so only the front of the room is lit. The best comedy is when the audience feels like one cohesive unit and too much lighting and being aware of other audience members will lessen this affect.
  • If you’re in a multipurpose room and can’t procure a real stage, most colleges usually have little risers that are easily transportable. Even a 4’ by 8’ stage that’s a foot off the ground makes a big difference. That said, of the three requirements above, the stage is the least important.


  • Focus on seating and stage arrangement
    • Have the seats as close to the stage as possible. A twenty-foot gap from the stage to the first row destroys energy. Plus comedy is enhanced when the audience can see the comedian’s facial expressions. The first row of seats should be no more than two feet from the front of the stage.
    • Assuming you’re not in a preconfigured theater space or lecture hall, minimize aisles. One long, connected row of seats is better than an aisle splitting chairs down the middle. Of course, this depends on the size of the room and specific fire codes (always follow those!) but as a general rule, connect all the seats in one row if possible.
    • Place the stage so the room feels wide, not long and narrow. If you’re in a rectangular room, the stage should go in the middle of the wide wall, not on the narrow wall.
    • Have someone from student activities guide audience members to sit in the front first. It’s much harder for a comedian when the first two rows are empty and everyone is sitting in the back. Comedy is about connection, and physical proximity enhances that connection. Don’t worry about the comedian picking on students, that happens very rarely (and usually only if students keep interrupting), this isn’t the 80s, well behaved audience members don’t get picked on for no reason
  • Play music as students come in to grab seats. Comedy is about energy, so get the mood positive before the show starts.
  • Have someone from the activities board introduce the comedian with a few words. Comedians will usually tell you exactly what to say. Keep it short and sweet.
  • Make your upcoming programs announcements AFTER the comedian finishes. Reading announcements from a piece of paper before the comedy show starts kills the energy and makes the start of a show harder. Do it at the end when everyone has had a good time and wants to learn more about your hard planned upcoming events.


That’s it! Ten years of experience distilled into less than a thousand words! Enjoy the show!


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Ben’s Sketch Goes Viral

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

I’m excited to report that my latest sketch has gone viral on Facebook!

6 days after posting, it’s at 424,000+ views and 11,000+ shares.

Check it out for yourself:

Hipster vs Old School

Posted by Ben Rosenfeld on Thursday, March 29, 2018

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Ben’s Newest Sketch Video: The Slice

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

I just released a new sketch video, check it out:

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Ben’s Album #2 on iTunes Comedy Charts

Friday, January 19th, 2018

I’m super excited to announce my new comedy album is out and currently at #2 in the iTunes Comedy Charts!


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2018 Comedy Goals

Monday, January 1st, 2018

For the past nine years, I set goals at the start of the year and then review how I did at the end of the year [see 2017201620152014, 2013201220112010 and 2009]. I’m not sure if this is actually working anymore, as the goals have been pretty similar the last few years and I only look at this post the first and last day of the year, but at this point it’s a tradition, plus I do think subconsciously it helps, so here go my goals for this year.

One thing I’m doing differently this year, I’ve put “process goals” (aka things I can control) in black, and “goal goals” (aka thing that depend on other people as well as me) in grey text. There’s an extra line break in between the two.

I have more goals this year (15 up from 11 last year) and then whittled down my top 4. If I nail 3 out of these top 4 goals, and don’t achieve a single one of the others, I’ll consider it a very good year.


  • Perform 600 times this year, including 400 club spots
  • Go on 30 acting auditions, get 3 callbacks
  • Perform at 8 college shows
  • Do a stand-up set on TV that airs in its entirety (not a stand-up clip show)
  • Do two acting gigs (non-stand up) that air on TV


  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 15 of those minutes into “A” jokes
  • Submit 5 writing packets
  • Sell a TV show
  • Have a consistent entertainment writing job for 8+ weeks


  • Take two acting classes
  • Read 25 books


  • Get my new album, The United States of Russia, to hit #1 on the iTunes or Amazon comedy sales rankings
  • Earn $40,000 from entertainment related business income


  • Average weight 174 pounds or less
  • Do my morning routine 4 out of 7 days every week

Top 4 Goals (Out of 15)

  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 15 of those minutes into “A” jokes
  • Sell a TV show
  • Do a stand-up set on TV that airs in its entirety (not a stand-up clip show)
  • Get my new album, The United States of Russia, to hit #1 on the iTunes or Amazon comedy sales rankings

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2017 Comedy Goals Revisited

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

On January 1st, 2017 I posted my goals for this year. Since it’s the last day of the year, it’s time to go through them and see how I did. Black text is the original goal and bold text is how I did. 

Performing (2 out of 5 accomplished)

  • Perform 650 times this year, including 400 club spots
    Did 654 spots, including 485 club spots
  • Perform at 10 college shows
    Did not do 10 college shows.
  • Do a stand-up set on TV that airs in its entirety (not a stand-up clip show)
    Did not do a stand up set on TV that airs in its entirety.
  • Go on 50 acting auditions, get 5 callbacks
    Did fewer than 50 acting auditions and fewer than 5 callbacks
  • Book at least one acting gig from an audition
    Booked two acting gigs from auditions

Writing/Producing (1 out of 2 accomplished)

  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 15 of those minutes into “A” jokes
    Goal accomplished
  • Sell a TV show and/or write for a TV show
    Had many conversations with multiple production companies, but have yet to sell something.

Learning (2 of 2 accomplished)

  • Take one acting class
    Took two acting classes.
  • Read 20 books
  • Read 28 books

Financials (0 of 1 accomplished)

  • Earn $40,000 from entertainment related business income
    Did not earn $40,000

Misc (0 of 1 accomplished)

  • Average weight 172 pounds or less
    Average weight closer to 176 pounds

Top 4 Goals (Out of 11) (1 out of 4 accomplished)

  • Do a stand-up set on TV that airs in its entirety (not a stand-up clip show) No
  • Perform at 10 college shows No
  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 15 of those minutes into “A” jokes Yes
  • Sell a TV show and/or write for a TV show No

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Ben’s 3rd Album Available for Pre-Order

Monday, December 18th, 2017

I’m thrilled to announce that my third stand up comedy album, The United States of Russia, will be released on Friday January 19, 2018 and it is now available for pre-order on iTunes.*

*You may get an error when clicking the above link and need to search for my name instead, and then select the new album to pre-buy it. This is an iTunes bug.

Ben's new album will be released January 19, 2017

If you’re going to buy my album, please consider buying it before Jan 19 as all pre-orders count towards the first day sales figure – which is a fancy way of saying, my best chance to get to the top of the iTunes comedy chart is on that first day from pre-sales.

The United States of Russia



Broadway World – Comedy Album That Was Almost Banned By Russian iTunes To Be Released January 19

BOAST – Ben Rosenfeld’s New Comedy Album Release

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Ben To Record 3rd Comedy Album Sep 24 in NYC

Friday, August 11th, 2017

I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be recording my third live stand up comedy album (to be released by Comedy Dynamics) at The People’s Improv Theatre in New York City on Sunday September 24th.



Comedian Ben Rosenfeld, a Russian born Jew based in New York City, covers such topics as his being raised by loveably insane Russian immigrant parents, American politics through an outsider’s perspective and his recent decision to get married – mostly to make his jokes more relatable.

Ben’s second album, “The Russian Optimist,” reached Amazon’s Top 5 best selling comedy albums. Now Ben returns to record his third live stand up comedy album, “The United States of Russia.” If you like your laughs sprinkled in with intelligence and thought provoking points, you’ll love Ben’s newest hour.

There will be two shows – 7PM and 9PM – both at The PIT Underground. Doors open 20 minutes before showtime.




Ben Rosenfeld creates smarter comedy for smarter people. Ben’s comedy blends his family’s experience as Russian Jewish immigrants in America with his philosophical beliefs, political observations and unique characters.  Ben has appeared on FOX’s Laughs, CBS This Morning, National Geographic’s Brain Games, NPR Weekend Edition, SiriusXM Radio, Rooftop Comedy and been featured as TimeOut New York’s Joke of the Week.  He has twice headlined at Caroline’s on Broadway, hosted at the Lincoln Center and performs nightly in New York City.  Ben has two comedy albums, Neuro Comedy (2012 – iTunes | Amazon ) and The Russian Optimist (2016 – iTunes | Amazon | Google Play – released by Comedy Dynamics / New Wave Entertainment) – which has been an Amazon Top 5 Best Selling Comedy Album.  Ben also created the illustrated coffee table book, Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up, an Amazon Top 5 Best Seller in Humor Books.


Ben’s record label is New Wave / Comedy Dyanamics. They are the largest independent stand-up comedy production and distribution company, producing Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History for History, Animal Planet’s Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson, the new scripted comedy on Seeso, There’s … Johnny, History’s Join Or Die with Craig Ferguson, MTV2’s Wild ‘N On Tour, Hulu’s Coming To The Stage, and MTV’s Spooning with…Zac Efron. The company has worked with a wide-range of established and emerging comedic talent including Kevin Hart, Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Katt Williams and many more. Comedy Dynamics is available on most streaming platforms including: Hulu, Roku, iOS, Amazon, and Android.


Comedy Dynamics Records’ album Louis C.K. Live At Madison Square Garden won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album in 2016. In total, eight of Comedy Dynamics’ albums produced between 2013-2015 have been Grammy-nominated.



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Ben named one of “40 Best Up and Coming Comedians”

Friday, March 10th, 2017

I’m excited to announce I’ve been named as one of the “40 Best Up and Coming Comedians” – the list is alphabetical by last name, so you’ll have to scroll down for a while to see me.

My favorite quote from it is, after explaining how I perform “smarter comedy for smarter people” the article goes on to say,  “Don’t worry if you’re stupid. Rosenfeld will still make you laugh.”

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How To Make Money In Comedy

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Many people think a comedian only gets paid to perform live comedy into a microphone in front of an audience. But did you know that there’s at least 20 other ways comedians make income?

Until you have the name recognition of Bill Burr or Louis CK, making money in comedy, particularly stand up comedy, can be quite the up and down adventure. For most comedians I know, the key to staying afloat and not needing a day job is multiple income streams.

Here’s all the ways I make money as a professional comedian:

  • Performing stand up at live shows including:
    • College shows – this is my favorite. The audience is usually smart and sober.
    • Hosting aka “MCing” (pays well in NYC showcase clubs, poorly everywhere else) – this involves more crowd interaction and being organized enough to keep track of everyone else’s names, credits and how much time they’re doing
    • Regular showcase spots – low pay, but you can do 3-5 shows a night, great for working out new material for 5 to 25 minutes at a time
    • Featuring and/or headlining clubs and bars outside of NYC – you do 30 to 45 minutes, and spend lots of time seeing the country, or country’s highways at least.
  •  Performing stand up on a TV show, Netflix or Seeso – this can range from a few hundred dollars for less popular programs to thousands of dollars for more well known brands.
  • Writing punch up for tech speakers – I’m part of a new service which helps people infuse humor into their Ted Talks and other keynote speeches
  • One-on-one writing help for newer comedians – I work with some comedians to help them with their material
  • Book sales – A couple of years ago, I put out a book, Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up. It’s been an Amazon Top 20 Best Seller in Dark Humor Books. I sell it online and after shows.
  • Album sales (via iTunes, spotify, etc) – I have recorded and put out two comedy albums. Anytime someone buys it on iTunes or Amazon, or streams it on Spotify or some of the other services, I get paid.
  • Album royalties (XM radio plays via SoundExchange) – my second album is getting played on Sirius XM radio, and I get royalties from that.
  • Radio and voice acting – I do a bunch of voice over work.
  • Commercial and legit acting – I spend more time auditioning than getting paid to act, but this is one of those lottery parts of comedy, you get one right role and everything else falls into place.
  • Video editing – Over the years I’ve taught myself video editing and now other performers pay me to help them.
  • Directing – I taught myself how to direct (and be director of photography, and do the lighting, and the sound) and now others pay me to run their web series and short films.
  • Video filming – I’m good at technology and sometimes film live comedy shows for other performers.

Here’s other ways that comedians I know make money (in addition to all the ways I listed above):

  • Teaching comedy classes
  • Producing their own live comedy shows (or open mics) and charging a cover
  • Being a staff writer for a TV show that someone else created (a sitcom like Big Bang Theory or a late night show like Seth Meyers)
  • Being a talking head on a TV show (like TruTV’s World’s Dumbest, MTV Guy Code or VH1’s Best of The 90s)
  • Being a punch up writer on a movie set – the movie is written by someone else, but you’re constantly pitching funnier lines during filming
  • Hosting a podcast or web series with a large enough following to sell advertisements – Marc Maron is the best example of this but there’s plenty of funny YouTube stars that make a living like this too
  • Having a development deal at a network or studio – this is basically an exclusive one year deal where you get paid money to come up with an idea for the network or studio
  • Selling t-shirts, audio CDs and other merchandise after the show – I’ve been told t-shirts sell better than books
  • Creating and selling your own TV show or movie – this is different than writing for someone else’s project, as you create the idea yourself. You can also get paid to write it in advance (or write it for free and then try to sell it) and it might still never get made, or only get made as a pilot and never aired, but you will have still made income from this. It’s also different from acting, because you may not be in the show (think Larry David at Seinfeld).


Conclusion: There’s more than one way to make rent, it’s about staying flexible, finding your niche, always improving, always creating and always hustling.

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