Ideas on promoting stand-up comedy shows?
May 11, 2010 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Can you share any suggestions on promoting an open-mic comedy show throughout the traditionally-very-quiet summer months?

In Calgary, there's a weekly weekday-night open-mic comedy night that is planning a hiatus during the summer months, expecting audiences to dwindle. Among local amateur comics, however, the night is very well-liked and many don't want to lose it over the summer.

The open-mic night is relatively unestablished and not presently advertised beyond word-of-mouth, so any uptick in attendance could potentially make continuing the show through the summer more viable for the hosting club's owners.

Can you suggest any ways to promote a 12-week run of weekly amateur comedy nights that encourage a sustained audience? Some sort of incentive for people to attend across multiple weeks and/or attend in large groups?

Any ideas regarding themes, promotions, and/or positioning the show as a good alternative to more traditionally summer-y, outdoors-y activities would be much appreciated, as well as any pretty much anything else you'd care to share.

Feel free to be extra-imaginative or wildly ambitious.
posted by chudmonkey to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have no creative advertising advice.

Have you thought of doing workshops in the summer instead? You could help each other out with your acts, perhaps invite budding comedians, and then set aside time to work on advertising strategies?
posted by Lizsterr at 11:14 AM on May 11, 2010

I've given away show tickets in the Craigslist Free Stuff section. You could do a buy one get one free if you feel weird about giving out too many comps. In my case, I posted that I was giving away 10 x single tickets to the first people to email with the subject header "foo". I found it was a good way to do outreach to people who might not otherwise see live performance. When I corresponded about the tickets, I invited people to email after the show and share feedback; I got some really nice responses. And at the venue, after the show you can try to sweet-talk them so they feel a personal connection and come back again in subsequent weeks.

You could also go to workplaces in your area and offer blocks of tickets for groups of 5 or more. Office buildings, school staff rooms, swimming pool staff, restaurant staff, etc.

At each event, maybe mention a password that will give a $2 discount for subsequent weeks?
Or have a punch card, "attend 3 nights, get the 4th free"?

Good luck!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:26 AM on May 11, 2010

Could you make it into an after work summer bbq? Lots of bars in my area bbq outside in the summer (even if there is no outdoor seating areas and people have to come back in.)

It could be a motivator for those people who have to work all week even through the summer. It could give them a taste of summer party/vacation.
posted by Vaike at 11:50 AM on May 11, 2010

Position the summer stuff as an advantage instead of a liability. Advertise it as a summer series, a major event on its own, not just as "we're still doing this, I guess."

Maybe each week's ticket/hand stamp is an entry into a larger drawing for the end of the summer.

You could have a lot of fun with gag prizes each week. Do one for the biggest group, or the person who came from the furthest distance. Do some trivia.

Make it more of a "league" by doing challenges every week. Maybe one week is the all-sports-jokes week, and the next is that every comedian has to use a prop of the emcee's choice in his/her act (ooh, prop comedy, edgy), and then the next week is all impersonations... you get the drift. People could vote at the end of the night, and whoever gets the most votes wins. You could do it nightly or cumulatively.

More generally:
Partner with local businesses to do tradeoffs of services. Raffles in between comedians, free breadsticks at the pizza place down the block with your comedy ticket stub/hand stamp, the works. The other places probably feel it just like you.

What's the weather like up there? Make jokes about how nerds don't like the sunshine anyway :) Or that the temperature/weather inside is SO much more predictable.
posted by Madamina at 11:57 AM on May 11, 2010

What sort of budget are you working with? Do you charge a cover? A free 1st drink would get me to show up.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:05 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are you already doing Facebook promotion? Especially if you're mostly amateurs or emerging comics, everyone performing should be pitching in by inviting friends and friends-of-friends to "event" listings when there's a night-- then everyone in all those networks will see the event mentioned on news feeds, etc, which helps raise awareness.

I've seen theater companies do a "bring 4 friends, get $5 off your group's total ticket purchase...bring 5 friends, get $5 off your group's total ticket purchase" deals that might work for you.

Also, invite anyone who might be willing to give you media coverage-- especially local bloggers-- if you're not doing that already.
posted by neitheror at 1:25 PM on May 11, 2010

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