Guest Post: Truckload of Comics’ Kenny DeForest’s Tips for Throwing a Successful Comedy Show

23 Nov

Happy Holidays everyone. One of our favorite comedians, Kenny DeForest, produces the monthly comedy show, Truck Load of Comics. You can check him out here and purchase tickets for his events at Last week we asked Kenny if he had some advice for anyone looking to throw a successful comedy show and below is a fantastic guest post with several tips and suggestions…

There’s an old, cliched saying that you should always work smarter rather than harder. Nothing has taught me this lesson more than producing independent comedy shows. All the promotional “advice” in this article is going to be heavily skewed toward the world of comedy, but comedy is what I know and they say to write what you know. Hopefully there’s something useful in it for anyone promoting ticketed events.

For the longest time, I thought that, with little advertising money to work with, putting my nose to the grind stone and handing fliers to every person I saw for a couple hours a day during the weeks leading up to the shows would be my best option. I figured it was a numbers game. The more fliers I put in hands, the more audience members at the show, right? Wrong. Well, not wrong, I mean technically your chances of having a nice crowd increase if you pepper the city with fliers, but the return/time spent ratio is not ideal. Fliering is one of those things that is a necessary evil at the indy show level. No one knows who you are and nothing can change that more quickly than handing someone a card filled with all the information about who you are. It isn’t fliers that aren’t really necessary. It’s fliering that isn’t neccessary. Fliering as a verb.  Don’t get me wrong, a certain level of street barking is always going to be there, but minimizing that is key.  Below are a few things I’ve found success with that I think may be a better use of time then standing on a random street corner shouting to deaf ears:

1) Twitter/Facebook – The key here is to not ONLY promote with Twitter and Facebook. You don’t want all of your posts to be about “business” or people will stop reading them the same way they’ve stopped listening when they hear “hey, do you have any change.” You don’t ever want your online image to feel “solidity,” for lack of a better term. Have fun on Facebook and Twitter. Post funny thoughts, quips, song lyrics, video links whatever. Just stay active throughout the day in little bursts to keep show’s name at the top of people’s minds. Don’t be afraid to tweet at people to get their attention. If you think about it, while using your show’s twitter feed with all the show info on the profile, tweeting an @ reply to something someone you’re following, ie a potential audience member, has posted is like sending them a personalized, thus more effective, flier. You made them laugh and now they’re actually checking out your profile to see “what are these guys about.” Now they follow you back and they see all your funny tweets and think, “I need to see these guys live”. As long as your twitter/facebook page is interesting most the time, people won’t get annoyed when it’s time to promote something. 2 hours at replying on twitter is a much better use of time then 2 hours fliering a food court. Who’s more likely to get out and see a show: twitter people or food court people? Exactly.

2) Research places to get your show listed. Spend time finding ways to get your name out to people online. We live in an age of blogging. Find popular blogs about whatever your scene is and try to get listed there. Find local scene magazines and newspapers and get listed there. It’s always more effective to reach the people looking for what you offer rather than convincing people to want what you’re offering. A few hours online will bring a more consistent draw than a couple hours in the streets any day.

3) Maintain an email list. Whether you get emails voluntarily or if you get them through a raffle, keeping in touch with fans is everything. ALWAYS, keep an email list so you can remind fans about coming shows. Pretty self explanatory.

4) MAKE SURE THE PRODUCT IS UP TO SNUFF – Nothing kills a show faster then bad nights at the office. Whether it’s comedy or music, you might as well set your fliers on fire if the people that DO come are certainly not coming back. Save the 2 hours at the food court and hit a couple open mics.

In conclusion, this blog is certainly not intended to be anti-flier. ALWAYS have fliers and business cards with you. One thing about people: They WILL ask you what you do. There is your chance to whip out a flier and let them know. It’s quick, personal, and more importantly, solicited. The people who ask first will ALWAYS take a look at the flier. The people you bombard are just going to throw it away. This is the value of fliers. They answer “what do you do?” and give the person asking a reminder to take home. What they aren’t intended for is geurilla street-people attacks where every innocent pedestrian is ambushed with little cards of unsolicited information. Get fliers, but save your street time and use it more effectively.

— Kenny DeForest

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