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al martin

Ways to get Stage Time

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

When I started in comedy, there were few ways to get stage time…Primarily, you performed at open mics till you were good enough to go to the auditions that the various clubs had..In between you might have tested your chops in some road rooms in the New Jersey, Upstate New York and CT. areas….But in general getting stage time was difficult.

One day, a group of comics asked me ” Al, how do I perform on a main show. ‘ ….I replied , look at my lineup over there on the wall….Back then ( early 1990’s) , it consisted of Bret Butler, Louis CK, Liz Winstead, Louis Black, Bill Hicks, Nick Dapaulo, Dave Attell, etc….I said look closely, when you are good enough for me to bump one of them for you then you are ready for my main show….Because the fact is we are in New York, the comedy capital of the world. So many great comedians perform here…If I put you on I have to take one of them off…

After hearing the response, one I am guessing they were not thrilled with, they responded if we bring our own audience to a show will you give us our own time spot…And viola the new talent show ( some call it the dreaded bringer was started at New York Comedy Club….

Now I have heard all the arguments about bringer shows, some say it is exploitive some say it was useful…It usually boils down to the ones who bring find it helpful , the ones who cannot find it exploitive..

My take is as follows….Most comics who are not ready for prime time, are not getting on prime time whether bringer shows are in existence or not….Bringer shows should be looked at as one of many weapons in the beginning comics arsenal.

Do clubs make money on these shows ?…Yes but in this tough economy, utilization of space is important…If there is a time spot not making money, from my view ( and of course it might be biased ) why should the club not add additional revenue….As for the comic who can bring an audience, it is a wonderful weapon…It allows you to get quality time in front of a real paying audience…If you cannot bring , well nothing changes…

There are some things about bringer shows that I find distasteful and try to discourage in my rooms.

!) Putting the comic who brings the biggest audience at the end..I find this abusive to the comic who busted their ass to bring in the biggest audience..

2) Lying about industry shows…Being a receptionist at NBC does not qualify you as industry…

3) After a comic brings 10 people one week, 20 people another he/she has a week where they crapout and no one shows….I try to make every effort to get these comedians up, even if it is reduced time….We try to foster a sense of community….

A little tip for those that have no friends to bring….I once stood outside a club and found 3 customers who i asked would you like to go to a comedy show , and i paid their admission and drinks….it cost me $50 at the time, but wow, it got me up in front of an audience, exploitive maybe, but in any career you have to pay your dues…in law, it is interning, medicine it is a residency, journalism interning. Plumbing, elecrical unions have their methods…

Which wow . Interning will be the subject of my next blog…

Till next time

Stand Up 360 Comedy Festival

Sunday, May 13th, 2012
       It is that time of year again as we approach the annual Stand Up 360 Comedy Festival….Last year’s inaugural event was highlighted with a great show for Wounded  Warriors featuring Judah Friendlander from 30 Rock as well as some of New York’s top comedians…The mayor’s office proclaimed the festivities Stand Up 360 week in New York City….
      The festival is dedicated to all the young talent in New York….While a lot of festivals, concentrate on faces you know or people that have been around for many years, the Stand Up 360 gives audiences a chance to see the next big stars of tommorow.
       Over 500 people participated last year in the festival…The eventual winner was Gulio Gallarotti who won an all expense paid package to London England to perform at the famed Jonguleurs Comedy Club.
       This year a lot of the preliminary rounds are being held at New York and Broadway Comedy Club in NYC….Comics can also submit dvd for viewing…
       This year will have an extra twist….A SECOND CHANCE show, that is a show for people who either found out about the festival too late or want one more crack….This show will be held at the new Greenwich Vvillage comedy club slated to open in  July.
        For full info on festival and dates visit www.standup360comedyfestival.com
       Till next time,
                                                    Al

From the Comedy Club Owner

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

 

Open MIc …Should I do them ?
Al Martin
          A lot of times, I ask young developing comics after I watch their set, ” How often do you do Stand Up”?…Many times a comic will say to me I only go up once in a while because I do not have enough friends to bring to shows.
          This is an area I would love to comment on…Here are some tips for young comics starting out.
          1) Hit open mics…I know , I know, some open mics can seem very depressing. But look at it this way, if a joke gets a good response at a mic , it could very well be a keeper, those are pretty tough audiences.
              Open mics have a hidden intrinsic value…They allow you to network, stay in the loop…You can often find out just by gossiping where other open mics are, but better yet, that rare pearl of a room where you do not have to bring people.
               Along these lines, you never know when a friendship made during an open mic can pay off years later…I know people that did open mics and stayed friends with some major comics . They now write or open for them on the road.
               Also, some of these new friends you make at mics, might start their own rooms. Then you can get up on stage at these rooms…I remember over 20 years ago, making some friends at open mics who opened their own little rooms…I was able to get valuable stage time.
              I did open mics with a comic named Seymour Swan…Today 23 years later he runs New York’s longest running showcase for  African -American comics, called Still Funny Saturdays at New York Comedy Club.
              I did open mics with Chris Murphy, today he does a comedy class at New York Comedy Club.. He also writes for some other very huge comics who we both  did open mics  with in the late 1980’s. as well as opens for them on the road.
              Lastly how about starting your own mic to get stage time.   That’s right if you live in an outer borough of New York or in the suburbs, these are great places to start a mic…You can also use it to get stage time..Via the old trade off…I willl give you a prime spot on my show if  you give me one on yours…
              I will use this space in future posts to focus on different ways to get stage time when starting out, when is it time to see a manager or club owner to move up the ranks and other topics  ..
             I hope you enjoy the column and find it informative.
                                                                Al

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