A lot of people ask me, "How do you get booked so much?" Here are some things that help me. Some of this is personal experience and other is what I've heard from booker friends. Note that I live in Southern California so this is where my experience comes from.
0. First of all, you have to put in the work to be funny. This means going to open mics and/or shows, writing most days of the week, watching comedy specials, going to live comedy shows, listening to comedy podcasts, recording your own podcast, etc. I suggest getting up to perform at LEAST 4 times per week, and any day that you don’t perform, make sure you do a solid 30-60 min of writing. If you continue to perform and write, you will get better, and you will get booked. But, if you’re still having trouble getting booked, here is a list of things you can do.
1. Have a good tape. Something from a festival or club is good, but as long as people are laughing and it's a clear shot, it should be good. Ideally you have a stand, but I have gotten booked from handheld videos when I had nothing better and the video was killer - even though it was shaky and my friend was loudly laughing, it even got me into a festival and shows in other states. (However, some people will turn you down just because it's not on a stand/it's a phone video, especially the higher up they are.)
1a. Update your video regularly. I update mine every 6 months at minimum. You'd be surprised at how quickly you grow!
2. Cold contact:
2a. Where you only have the person's social media: I've started asking for permission to send a video if it's a cold contact. Your choice for what to do, but it makes me feel less like I'm invading their space. Say, "I heard about your show from ___ and I was wondering if I could send you a video for consideration? I've done __insert 3 credits here___, show up on time, and always promote shows." Don't repeatedly ask. If they don't respond, you might just not be the right fit, or they might have enough comics. Or, they're an a**hole. Either way, move on. If you're going to message them on FB, try to become FB friends first so your message doesn't go into that weird filter that no one can ever find.
2b. By email, here's a guide: http://devincomedy.com/sending-out-booking-emails/
2. Have notifications for Facebook groups like LA and OC comedy scene (or wherever you are). People regularly ask for videos. Also, check your news feed a lot; producers will post about open spots, especially last minute ones.
3. Go to shows, stay the whole time, and introduce yourself to the booker. Say, "I really enjoyed your show. Can I send you a tape for consideration?" Follow up with a message later. Going to a show first is the #1 way to go above and beyond and demonstrate interest. According to a prominent booker, if you introduce yourself at the beginning, you could even get a guest spot that night.
4. Have a website and capitalize on your email signature. People disagree on the importance of a website, but I have booked multiple charity gigs from having a website that was basic AF (and kind of ugly. I mean, it was green. Green! Blegh!). People can find you from it and it makes you look more professional. Put it in your email signature, along with links to your social media and a small picture of you.
5. Don't feel like you're above asking people to be on their shows or sending tapes out. Most people have to, even really funny ones. Don't make the assumption that if someone hasn't asked you to be on their show, that they don't want you. It's impossible to be on every producer's radar at all times.
6. Hang at the Improv, Comedy Store, Rec Room, or other local club. Make an effort to get to know one person for a significant period of time. Establish a genuine connection and be sure to connect on social media (I always do it on the spot, but some people prefer not to). Note that if you're a non-LA comic, some comics will immediately ignore you once they find out you're not in LA. Don't take it personally. Just talk to someone else.
7. If you don't kill at open mics, that's okay. I rarely do well at open mics. I have no idea why. The same material bombs at mics but works well in shows. Now, I use mics to help me work out and memorize material, then try it at shows, and I'm doing fine. You will get booked from open mics if you do well. But if you don't, have a great tape, and do well at shows. If you're going to try new stuff at a show, put it in the middle. You're aiming for a strong start and finish.
8. Try to talk to all comics you meet at shows. Add them on social media.
9. Have an instagram.
10. PROMOTE. When you post a flyer on Instagram, tag the booker so they know you're promoting. It is good to post a few days in advance at least. If the Booker tags you in a story, re-share it. It takes like 2 seconds. You can make one of those graphics where you post all your shows at once and do a mass tagging, too. I make my own flyers using Canva or IG Stories, or if I'm feeling ambitious, Photoshop. Just post a cute or funny picture, add the date, time, and place, then add it to your "Next Shows" highlight - be sure to tag the booker.
11. Start a mailing list. First ask your friends for their emails and at least once a month, email out all your shows. For some people social media is enough, but not for me. The first year I did this, I had at least a couple come to my shows almost every week. Now the well is a little more dry, but when I figure out how to make people come out again I'll let you know. If you run a show, collect emails and add those to your mailing list.
12. If you bring people, consider introducing them to the booker. I think it also goes without saying that bringing people is one of the best ways of being invited back, but sometimes it's not possible when your friends with kids and full time jobs can't come out at 11pm on a Monday in a different county.
13. Stay for the whole show if you can. At the end of shows, ask the producer if you could contact them in a few months to come back. If you didn't do great, wait longer. If you bombed, well, I'm not quite sure how to handle that because I'm usually in the bathroom crying. But, there are plenty of fish in the sea.
14. Run your own show so you can give yourself stage time and even trade shows (but don’t have that be the only reason). Pay comics if you can!
15. Booking out of state gigs is the worst. You have to ask around for names, message everyone, and I have a low rate of response. I just email and message everyone I possibly can and land a couple of spots. If you don't have a wide network or a referral from someone it is a painful process. But the advantage is that places really like seeing LA comics. And once you get there, you'll find people who are willing to give you a guest spot. If people are interested, I’d be happy to write an article on how to get booked out of state.
15. BE NICE! GENUINELY NICE! SEND OUT GOOD VIBES! Send respectful emails, thank the producers after the show, then message producers after the show thanking them again, be nice to other performers, talk to other comics like they're human, even if you "won't get anything from them."
So that's pretty much it! Anything I've missed? Anything I'm way off mark?