Banned from The Chuckle Hut
Here is a little story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent comic from being banned again by even more comedy clubs and comedy agencies. We will call this comic Dan Jenkins. One day Dan decided to book his own comedy showcase. He thought about doing his showcase at the local comedy club, but they were only open Thursday through Saturday and a friend of his that worked at a bar had indicated to him that the bar might be interested in doing a monthly stand-up comedy showcase on Tuesday Nights. Dan didn’t see any reason to ok it with the local club because they weren’t even open on the night of his proposed show. Dan met with the bar’s owner and they agreed on the terms of the first comedy show. Dan then proceeded to get in touch with the best comedians he knew, many of which often did the open-mic at the local club but had not begun to receive any paid work from the club. They all agreed to do the show. Fast forward to Tuesday six weeks later and the show goes on as planned. The attendance isn’t amazing, but in the end the owner of the bar is happy and the comics have all seemed to have a good time. Dan sets the date for the next two months showcases and even gets so excited he makes a facebook page for the comedy night and posts about it in his newsfeed.
Time comes for the next open-mic at the comedy club and when Dan arrives he finds he has been bumped from the list. Strange, he had called ahead as was the ritual. Maybe there was some kind of mistake. He approaches the club owner who coldly tells Dan, “Look Dan, we can’t have you out there taking business away from the club.” “What do you mean?” Dan says. “I scheduled the show on a night you aren’t open…” The club owner then says “Any comedy show that happens in this town on any night takes money out of my pocket…” Dan listens in stunned silence. “I don’t have a spot for you on the mic, man…” The club owner says. He then quickly walks away.
Banned from his home club. For being eager and wanting to create more stage time which would ultimately make the comics that performed at the club infinitely better.
This is all too common. At some point in the live comedy business, unlike the live music business, clubs became extremely territorial. Ridiculous demands that a comic not perform within 100 miles of the club even at an open-mic DESPITE the fact that the club has never paid them for a gig are not myths. Now this is an extreme and rare ban, but it happens. Most often comics are banned for producing a show in the same town as the club or agency one nighter.
What reasons do clubs have for banning comics for performing or producing a show outside the club?
1.) Because it affects your ability to draw people out to see you perform at their establishment.
2.) Because they are the only game in town when it comes to comedy and you are showing a lack of loyalty by frequenting any other live comedy event.
3.) Because you are presenting audiences with an amateur comedy show which might permanently turn people off to coming out to see live comedy at any venue, even, GASP, at THEIR venue (Noooooooooo!)
I have heard all of these reasons given. However, most often clubs/agents are spineless about their bans. They don’t tell you WHY they are banning you.. Hell, most of them just ignore you and pretend they are not ignoring you and don’t give you a reason they are ignoring you. Even after working for them and garnering positive feedback from the clientele, still, permanent email silence and no further bookings. The most common way to be banned is to find out third hand that a club/agent didn’t like something you did. Not even second hand, but third hand. That means they bitched about you to a headliner over some beers or a round of golf and that headliner mentioned it to some friend of yours when your name came up. Why does this happen? Because agents/club owners don’t have time to confront people and be honest, OR, they have been taught by an older comedy producer that this is the way it works. At least if a club owner or agent said “Hey man, I really don’t like ‘so and so’ show that you do.” You would at least have been given the respect to be addressed directly about it.
Top 5 Reasons Comedy Clubs are Shooting Themselves in the Foot by Banning Comics
5.) It looks like a move of desperation– When a club says they are banning someone for performing outside of the club, it really just seems like a signal that the club isn’t doing as well as it could be. They are worried that their club/one nighter could see an even further recession of receipts if one of the comics they have allowed to perform goes elsewhere sometimes to perform.
4.) You are firing your street team– The less local comics you have working your agency room or comedy club, the less word of mouth and buzz would be created about the shows. When comics are just getting good, they still have their friends and fans excited each time they talk about an upcoming performance. Now guess what, you have to hire more people to make marketing calls, or non-comics to hand out fliers or give away free passes from business to business.
3.) It’s not 1982– There was a time when comedy clubs were more common and they were pulling dirty business tricks on each other in order to steal customers one at a time. Well, those days are over. If you are comedy club, chances are their isn’t another one of you in your town unless your town is pretty big, say Atlanta or bigger. Therefore you are the ONLY official ‘comedy club’ and some people will ONLY come to see comedians in an actual comedy club. So get over yourself. Stop wasting your time banning comics, it’s not the 80’s anymore.
2.) Shallow Talent Pool– Ban happy clubs run short on quality comedians really quickly. Mainly because often the better a comic is, the less he gives a fuck about rules that seem put in place more for power then actual business reasons.
1.) Word of Mouth– Word of Mouth works both ways. Believe it when I tell you that every comedian will quickly find out you are known to ban a comic for simply trying to make a living doing comedy. That then spreads to the comics friends and fans, and business is lost and a negative cloud starts to form over your comedy establishment. Young comics look up to club owners/managers and comedy agents. When they see what appears to them to be unjustified punishment, many of them lose faith in these entities. When they lose faith, they stop promoting.
Now here is where we turn this blogpost over to two people. 1.) The banned comics 2.) The Agents/Club Owners
I want to hear stories of comics that have been banned for reasons beyond what you said on stage, unless you feel that this was a false reason given. Club owners and agents that read this. Do your best to justify banning a comic for specific ‘business’ reasons. Please folks I want to hear from you in the comments below!
Follow me on twitter @mattwardcomedy and please share this blogpost with anyone you know that is a comedy agent, club owner or comedian that has been banned by said individuals.
Also, if you really want to show support, drop a couple bucks in a donation here>> in my Dork for Life Comedy Tour Sardines and Gas Fund.
Oh, and I use Grammarly’s grammar check because I slept a lot during English class when I was younger and you look like a dumbass when you use really shitty grammar while trying to teach people shit.