Bookings & Career Suicide

A “No” in comedy doesn’t mean forever, it just means not now. Sometimes it’s not even you as most clubs are booked out in advance. Most bookers already know and like their established acts and aren’t ready to take a chance on someone new and in all honesty, if an act were so great the word would already be out about them.

Unfortunately for too many comics, they don’t understand the business side of “Show BUSINESS” and when they don’t get an immediate response they go off the rails and cuss out, trash talk a potential employer pretty much ensuring they go to the “no hire” list…and bookers talk. Nobody wants to hire or work with an asshole.

Very few applicants cuss out and send nasty emails as a follow up to a job interview and most employers keep an active file on the good applicants so if something opens up in the future they know whom to call. Comics could certainly use some better business skills to improve their bookings.

Comics might think they’re being ‘funny’ and can now brag to their other unemployed friends how they “told them off” not realizing that what they did tell them is that they are childish and unemployable and the word gets around.

Bookers will often ask other bookers about an act with three basic questions.

1. Are they funny?

2. Are they a pain in the ass either onstage or offstage?

3. Would you want them back?

And just to be clear, the number one characteristic carries the least amount of weight in booking consideration.

Case in point:

A comedian recently asked to do a guest set on Fri/Sat and I told that person that we’re cutting down on weekend guest sets and that person began debating me and telling where I broke my own rule. Sure, there are always exceptions and I politely pointed out that was my option and not his.

They began an email thread and told me how great they were and preceded to brag about all the other clubs and celebrities that do hire him. (I checked those references and they told me they either fired that person or just don’t want to work with them again.) I asked to see a demo and they sent me their “Evening At The Improv” set. Not a deal breaker but not very current for someone in such high demand.

The act then started to trash talk the acts I do book, insulting both me and my choice of talent thereby showing me what an unprofessional, jealous and backstabbing person they truly are and once again ensuring I won’t take their calls in the future.


1. Don’t get bitter, get better. If a venue isn’t booking you then go out and work on your act and get so good they either have to hire you or somebody else surely will and you won’t need/want to work for them anyway.

2. Be gracious. Thank them for their time and ask when would be an appropriate to resubmit. Being a comic, booker and club owner I understand both sides. There are clubs that only book twice a year and if you miss their booking day, you are out for the year. Remember, you are working for them.

3. Stop bitching and open up your own club and book whoever the hell you want.

Patience isn’t something easily acquired but it’s necessary so we don’t do damage to our career while we wait. If a farmer got frustrated waiting for a plant to grow and kicked the dirt and stomped on the seedling, a tree would never grow and bear fruit.

For more comedy advice, please check out my book "Finding Your Funny" on Amazon. Just click on the picture for more information.

#comedy #standup #comedian #comedyclub #bookings #donbarnhart #jokesterscomedyclub #comedyadvice #comedyclass

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