19 Pearls of Wisdom from the Burlesque World

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burlesque-tips-performersFor three years, I wrote the Tuesday Tease series for the Brown Paper Tickets’ blog. The weekly feature explored various aspects of burlesque through interviews with burlesque professionals. In each session, I asked the interviewee to give a word of advice, tip or pearl to those getting started.

I compiled all this great advice, from novice performers to stars like Michelle L’amour. You’ll find suggestions for putting on your own burlesque festival, wisdom for new performers, touring tips, the best ways to submit applications to festivals, guidance for starting your own troupe and even pointers for emcees.

Whether or not you’re involved in burlesque, if you’re a producer or performer, these tips will help take your shows from so-so to superb.

I give you 19 pearls of wisdom courtesy of the wild, wonderful world of burlesque.

Performers

1. Take time to learn. Treat burlesque as the art that it is. It takes time to grow and develop into the burlesque star you want to be. Patience, my dear.” ~ Michelle L’amour (Chicago, IL)

2. “[Take] inventory of what you like to see in shows. Determine what really does it for you. It could be pinup, 90’s music videos, politics, food…it could really be anything. If you have a message you’d like to convey, come up with a creative way to show it. Think about what you’d like to share with your audience or who/what you’d like to be when you grow up. Base your personal style on what is really you. Also, watch a million burlesque videos, go to as many shows as you can. Watch burlesque with an open heart and an open mind.” ~ Coco Lectric (Austin, TX)

3. “Go to burlesque shows. Watch lots of different performers with different styles. Take some dance classes, or burlesque workshops, learn some basic moves and have some poses. Volunteer to be stage kitten at burlesque shows, watch burlesque legends on YouTube. Find a mentor, learn how to use a sewing machine, a hot glue gun and a staple gun. Start stock piling crystals, sequins and glitter, get on stage with a veteran performer and join a group. Get a support network.” ~ Lola Rose (Washington DC)

4. “It’s important to remind people that come from a dance background that burlesque isn’t only about dance talent.  Burlesque is about the tease, the story, about entertaining and leaving a little something to the imagination. Of course, it always helps to ‘have a gimmick’ – if you can bring your talent in dance, theater, comedy, magic or costuming with you to the burlesque stage, you’re already one step ahead. To me, it’s about being unique, about being you… but of course, the most glittery version of you.” ~ St. Stella (Toronto, ON)

5. “Make your costume bangin’ from the dress to the undies to the pasties. Whatever you wear needs to scream burlesque. Don’t underestimate the power of face. Tell your story with your face. Bring that attitude. There’s nothing worse than watching a performer who is just going through the motions. You gotta be sexy all the time even when you ain’t.” ~ Ben Wisdom (New Orleans, LA)

6. “Know yourself. Be yourself. Practice one more time.” ~ Mama Dixie (Tuscaloosa, AB)

Event Planners/Producers

7. “Your first show is going to be a success. All of your friends and all of your performers are going to help out for free or pay to come and see it. You can get away with banking on that goodwill once, maybe twice if you’re very, very lucky. Don’t be crushed when your third show crashes and burns. It gets better.” ~ Scratch (Boston, MA)

8. “Put a good, hard-working and motivated team to work on the event with you. This will help support you. Learn from your mistakes and don’t get frustrated. This will keep you sane. Be clear with yourself about what your intention and goals are for the event you are planning. This will help guide you.” ~ Cha Cha Velour (Las Vegas, NV)

9. “While I don’t produce shows or perform as my primary source of income, I still give it the same level of care and professionalism. It isn’t unusual for me to spend 20-30 hours a week working on show stuff; it really is an around-the-clock process. And you have to have the ability to anticipate and plan for as many bad turns as you can and be able to roll with the punches when one comes along that you didn’t anticipate. That’s the mark of a real professional – when something bad unexpectedly happens, you don’t dwell on it. You just put your thinking cap on and say, “Okay, what are we gonna do now?” ~ Mistress Kali (New Orleans, LA)

10. “There are a lot of great venues in [Seattle] and a ton of shows. Find a way to distinguish your show from the others. Use Brown Paper Tickets and G&H Printing; they are both awesome and helpful, and make marketing affordable. Don’t be afraid to join the community. We want to perform in and come to your shows — we just need to know they are happening. Social media is your friend. Think outside the box, be sensitive and caring. And in the words of two of my favorite TV personalities ‘Make it Work’ and ‘Don’t F*ck it Up.’ ~ Whisper De Corvo (Seattle, WA)

Festival Organizers

11. “Producing a show is a skill set that should be mastered before even attempting a large-scale festival. If you can’t turn a profit on a small show, you won’t make it up in volume. You have multiple shows, classes and workshops, vending, volunteers to manage and much more to balance. Make sure you have a great sales team in place, a real plan for the weekend with goals and targets, a good marketing strategy and support from an awesome ticketing company. But mostly, produce because you love it. When the passion is there, the audience finds you.” ~ Lili Von Schtupp (Los Angeles, CA)

12. “It makes me so happy to see more and more cities hosting burlesque festivals. Establishing the San Antonio Burlesque Festival helped make our local burlesque community become a lot stronger. There was a big sense of unity and pride after the festival. As far as advice goes, if you are a performer taking the role of a producer, remember to keep your personal preferences in mind when producing but don’t let it rule your decision making. Really focus on the overall picture and try to give your audience the best show possible.” ~ Jasper St. James (San Antonio, TX)

13. “It’s a lot of work. Seriously. Make sure you have a solid team you are working with, and get a good promoter. You will have many obstacles that fall in your lap, so it’s important to stay calm and breathe. Just remember that. Oh, and have fun.” ~ Valencia Starling (Detroit, MI)

Troupes

14. “Being in a troupe takes more work than most people realize. We work hard to put out five different and unique shows each year that include new solos, duets, and group acts. As a soloist or hobbyist, it’s a easier to create numbers and then figure out what shows you may fit in, as opposed to tailoring acts for a show. It has taken a long time to get to this place, but we now have a great group of committed performers willing to work together toward a common goal and put in all the work needed for booking, producing, advertising, etc.” ~Ginger Snaps (Austin, TX)

15. “Make sure to make it clear who is making a final call. If you want a good troupe, you need good leadership and the ability to make tough decisions. This can mean saying no to a friend or disagreeing with a dance move or costume choice. In my opinion, one of the biggest differences in making a themed show with a bunch of independent performers and a troupe show has to do with content. It must be cohesive and feel like everything is planned and intertwined. Having a clear leader helps from getting the group stuck since everyone is always very different. Have fun with it and make sure you like who you are with.” ~Holly Dai (Portland, OR)

Touring

16. “The best advice I can give producers taking their show on the road is to give themselves enough time. Plan in advance, and plenty early! There is a LOT to consider when taking a professional show out on the road for several weeks. Lots of different factors come into play. Each venue books differently, each burlesque community performs and works differently, and there are a heck of a lot of logistics to figure out. Luckily, I am OCD when it comes to business preparedness and I’ve got a form, document or contract for everything. Definitely dot your I’s and cross your T’s as the more concrete you can get everything in advance, the less surprises and unaccounted for factors will arise later. You are always on the go, so if you don’t have the organization and infrastructure to back it up, you’re setting yourself up for failure.” ~ Deanna Danger (Richmond, VA)

17. “The most valuable piece of advice I can give to a burlesque troupe that wants to go on the road is taking the time to understand the dynamics of the city you are considering and getting to know the local pool of performers is really important. Building those great relationships before is really key to having a full venue when you arrive.” ~ Donna Touch (Chicago, IL)

Applying to Festivals

18. “I can’t stress how important a good quality video is to us in our application process. We get close to 400 applications each year. Many performers send us video that we simply can’t see or hear, or send us a studio version where there is no audience reaction. Even though these videos tend to be higher quality, it is ideal for us to hear and see the audience reaction as well as view a high quality video.” ~ Jen Gapay (New York, NY)

Emcees

19. “For burlesque emcees: shut up. I had to learn that the hard way. Be concise, funny, and charming. Then get that next act out there ASAP. The audience will love you a whole lot more for it.” ~ Ben Wisdom (New Orleans, LA)

Photo credit: Audrey Penven

Burlesque Ticketing 101

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BPT_Burly_Ticketing_Front-01Brown Paper Tickets supports event organizers, producers and performers with free advice, services and ticketing tools. We ticket thousands of burlesque events every year. In fact, more burlesque events than any other ticketing platform. We’re crazy about burlesque.

As Burlesque Representative, I assist performers and producers in setting up and promoting their shows. Here are seven pieces of advice I commonly give when I talk about burlesque ticketing:

1. Use Your Own Credit Card Processor

Budgeting for your show can be a challenge. Often, burlesque producers operate on a shoestring budget and desperately need the money from ticket sales to pay out-of-town performers, venue fees, promotional costs, etc. If having cash in hand the night of your show is an issue, I stress that with Brown Paper Tickets, you can use a third-party processor, like PayPal (probably the most popular) and we’ll give you 2.5% of our 3.5% processing fee paid by the ticket buyer back to you, the producer. This means you get the full face value of your tickets as they’re sold. Plus, you get a little bit extra to help offset the fees your third-party processor charges.

2. Use Brown Paper Tickets’ Promotion Help

With all you’ve got going on around show time, promotions is one of those things that might slip. Don’t let it. We take a close look at your promotional plan and suggest ways you can improve it. We’ll help you build curated media lists for your area. We’ll send out tweets for you. We’ll edit and refine your press releases so that they are more effective in getting media placements, even coach you on TV or radio appearances. It all depends on your needs. And we won’t insult you by offering placement in mass e-mails, which most people delete immediately. With us, you’ll have a dedicated team of event specialists to get the most out of your promotional campaign. I suggest that you contact us at least six to eight weeks prior to your event to get the best results from your campaign.

3.  Offer Limited-Time Price Reductions

Many producers don’t like offering discounted tickets as they feel it will cut into their total take. But I’ve found that limited-time price reductions create a sense of urgency and you’ll pull in folks who may not have considered attending otherwise. It’s the whole “It’s on sale! I HAVE to buy it.” philosophy. The best times to offer discounts are either right when you announce ticket sales (early bird discounts) or on a significant day. For example: “It’s Gypsy Rose Lee’s birthday and we’re offering a special discount to all burlesque fans in honor of her memory.” Something along those lines. Trust me, you’ll see a spike in sales.

4. Offer Special Discounts to Your Mailing List

Show your devotees a little extra love by offering the first opportunity to purchase tickets to your shows. While you’re at it, give them a special perk like a glass of champagne, discounted VIP seating, maybe some merch. Whatever you can do to show your fans how much you appreciate their support will only endear you to them more and ensure their loyalty over time. Loyal fans are the best advertisement a burlesque performer could have, so throw a little money their way. Trust me, next time they’ll bring their friends.

5. Bundle Tickets with Merchandise

Speaking of bundling merchandise, it’s easy to offer a special price that includes some form of merchandise with their tickets. This will help you move merch and expand exposure to your brand while also saving you from having to sling merch after the show. Some merch ideas: branded drink tokens, signed posters, branded panties, t-shirts or even flasks. Merch is a great way to get your brand out in the world and if done well, can become an extra revenue stream. Just inform your door person that ticket buyers will receive something extra at the door, based on price points.

6. Offer Group Packages

Over the years, burlesque events have become increasingly popular with bachelorette parties. Consider the bachelorette angle when marketing your event. One way to encourage bachelorettes or other groups to come to your shows is to offer a group package. Think birthdays, tourist groups or bachelorette parties. Even better, develop a relationship with local wedding planners or concierges. Consider offering a percentage of the packages they sell so that they have incentive to encourage their clients to attend your events. These relationships can become super valuable and get you high-paying gigs outside the burlesque circuit, like corporate events or private parties.

7. Customize Your Producer Profiles

If you organize multiple events, let your fans see all your shows on your producer profile. Customize the page to match your branding or even better, have our tech team create a skin for your profile page that matches the look and feel of your website. Then your producer page can basically replace the calendar on your website and folks never have to leave your site to see all your shows and get tickets. If you want more information on how to create a customized producer profile, contact our Client Services department and they can get that started for you.

Any burlesque questions or need help? Please contact me directly at jimmy[at]brownpapertickets.com.

How Round Table Tours Became a Top Tour in Montreal

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Montreal's Round Table ToursYou already know poutine, the cheese-curd and gravy comfort food. No? Someone needs to take a trip to Montreal. But poutine is only the beginning. Stacked smoked meat sandwiches. Arguably, better bagels than New York (easy, New Yorkers, we said arguably). Ice wine. Soft cheeses from provincial farms. Craft brew a plenty.

Who’s Ready for a Food Tour?

Founded only a few years ago, ‘Round Table Tours (Tours de la Table) is already Montreal’s number two activity on Trip Advisor. It is popular not only with tourists, but hard-to-impress foodies who live in the city.

Maybe it’s because tour owner and operator Mélissa Simard is bright and personable. Or maybe because she takes visitors to “forbidden” places – behind the kitchen, into neighborhoods well off the tourist track and to food production sites. Or maybe it’s her long list of accomplishments: A degree in Canadian Studies from McGill University and a diploma in professional cooking from St-PIUX. Winning “Best Female Entrepreneurial Project of Montreal” in 2013. A history working in top restaurants.

‘Round Table Tours is definitely doing something right. Whether you’re thinking of organizing your own tour group or looking for a good food tour, take a cue from Simard.

The Lightbulb Goes Off

Simard got the idea for the tours after cycling from Seattle to California, popping into eateries along the way. She felt burned out from years of working in restaurants and the trip provided a much-needed break. “I thought, this is so nice, people should do it all the time,” she says.

An idea was born: exceptional food tours with a rare look behind the scenes. Get guests in the kitchen and talking to chefs. Go to breweries and tea shops, to chorizo producers and rooftops to explore urban farms. It’s the unexpected, the underground, the “how it’s made” stuff that resonates with people.

Yum…

Food Tours Montreal Many food tours offer an overview of the region, small bites with a heavy dose of history and attractions. ‘Round Table Tours does it different. Simard wants her groups to “come in with an open mind, see things they’ll never see.”

According to Simard, the tours focus on important, iconic food that shaped the city. A taste of the Iberian Peninsula by way of Spanish tapas, Portuguese petiscos and Basque pintxos. A sampling of Montreal Jewish food from family-owned diners, delis and bagel factory. An eat and ride that explores Montreal’s emerging food truck scene. For the hungry but health conscious, there’s the Living Table Tour, which zeros in on the city’s green scene.

Tour-goers can expect the equivalent of a seven-course meal. “No one leaves hungry,” Simard says. Or thirsty, we suspect as most tours include wine, tea or coffee.

In-depth knowledge of the culinary scene and long-standing connections to the restaurant world helped Simard create her vision. But as the saying goes, anything worthwhile comes with challenges. Like many tour operators, Simard has extensive knowledge about her passion – food, but no prior business experience. “I don’t have a business background. It’s been trial and error,” she says. And she’s busy, running at least three or four tours a week, six in the summer.

As for expansion? Simard would like to set up ‘Round Table Tours in other cities, perhaps in British Columbia or maybe in one of those hamlets dotting the Quebec countryside. But there are no immediate plans. “We’re still growing in Montreal,” she says. If you’re headed to La Belle Province (lucky), find the tour for you.

14 Best-Kept Roller Derby Recruiting Secrets

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roller-derby-recruiting-steel hurtin' copyBrown Paper Tickets is proud to present our new roller derby blog series. Take a rink-side seat as we explore the business side of derby with Bob Noxious, a veteran of modern derby. Bob will share lessons learned, advice and tips to make your team or league even more fierce. Our resident “Derby Answer Man” has a BBA in business management and over a decade of experience announcing bouts. Read more about Bob Noxious.

Take it away, Bob.

Derby’s biggest recruiting issues

Today, I’ll dispel roller derby recruiting myths and provide improvement tips. And at the bottom of the page, you’ll find a four-minute video created by Brown Paper Tickets. Watch it and feel free to use it during your functions or share on social media.

Finding fresh meat is one of the most difficult tasks a roller derby league will face, especially in the beginning. Successful recruiting is a continuous, machine-like process. You probably already know the biggest contributor to recruiting breakdowns: letting it stop.

Don’t push the league so quickly

Roller Derby RecruitingBob, though we have a mix of both new and tenured skaters, we’re proud we took time to build our membership, train patiently, and design a method of continual recruitment to keep skater numbers where they need to be.”

Yeah, right. And I’m a 24-year-old Brad Pitt.

The problem:

1. Leagues push too quickly to play. Once they begin play, they lose focus on recruiting. It takes 30 skaters to sustain an inter-league team. You will start with 20 trained skaters. You roster 15, play a few bouts, skaters get hurt, quit, can’t travel and suddenly that 20 skaters becomes 10. You’ll skate 10 and that number quickly becomes seven or eight. Now you can’t skate without borrowing skaters from another league – and don’t do that or you’ll never fix the problem.

2. You push new skaters to play too soon. Under conditioned and under trained equals injury.

3. And as you face these issues, what recruiting is happening? After years of seeing this same problem, I’m guessing none.

Recruiting never stops

Remember, training new skaters doesn’t have a season.

4. Generally, the core group of original skaters will produce ones who can teach skating and conditioning all year.

5. Some leagues have a separate “new skater” practice night for training, which works well. There’s no competition for practice space and new team members tend to feel more comfortable around those with the same learning curve.

6. If these practice nights have skaters coming in and advancing to the tenured group with regularity, the class can go on all season. You shouldn’t waste time, energy, and potential space rental on training two people, but small leagues can maintain a group of 5 to 10 newbies.

My experience with skater trends

7. Derby doesn’t have a strong history with universities, as undergrad students rarely surface. I spent nearly six years in Madison, WI, one of the largest university towns in the Midwest (student population over 40,000) and can only recall one undergrad skater from the school.

8. The college students who join leagues are typically non-traditional students working on post-grad degrees or returning to school at a later age.

9. Reach beyond your immediate community. Skaters are willing to go the distance to play with a league. A 60- to 90-minute commute to practice is not unheard of.

Want to attract new team members? Hire a babysitter

10. It’s shocking how few leagues cater to athletes with kids. This deters many from starting or causes them to start and quit. Offer free babysitting during practice hours as a perk. Moms skate too. Well ok, not my mom.

For crying out loud, reach out and sell your sport.

11. Host a “Skate with the Skaters Night.” Roller derby leagues charge about a $5 entrance fee to skate with derby women or men over a 3-hour period. Anyone can attend, but it’s also a way to get league members talking to curious skaters about signing up.

12. Make appearances at town/city functions. A table at a local festival is cheap, if not free. You can recruit at these town functions and they give you more exposure to the community, which grows your audience. Wear your uniforms, including your skates. Do short, demo scrimmages in the parking lot or street and become part of the entertainment.

13. Prepare a kit and take the following to your recruiting events:

-League banner
-Photo album from bouts, with your best shots. Try to include photos with fans and kids.
-League schedule
-Recruiting info for skaters, refs and volunteer positions
-Advertising opportunities
-Newsletter sign-up sheet
-If there will be power, take some of your better bout footage to play on a small TV.

14. Be creative in your recruiting. Have themed recruiting events: bar party, rummage sales, restaurant tasting event or “Ask a Derby Skater” nights.

(Photo credit: Feed My Kids Productions)

 

12th Annual New York Burlesque Festival

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NYBF_2014Jen Gapay and Angie Pontani are no slouches. Not only have they created the biggest and grandest burlesque festival of its kind in the New York Burlesque Festival, now celebrating its 12th year, but they both have very impressive resumes outside of the festival.

As a performer, burlesque extraordinaire, Angie Pontani, “The Italian Stallionette,” was a key player in establishing NYC’s burlesque scene. She won burlesque’s most prestigious award, “Queen of Burlesque, Miss Exotic World” in 2008 and has toured multiple runs in the United States, Italy, Australia, Spain and Hong Kong, earning the title of “Best International Touring Artist of 2009,” by The Naked City/Alternative Media Group of Australia. As a producer she has produced the 2010 Burlesque Hall of Fame’s The Titans of Tease, the 53rd Annual Striptease Reunion Showcase and the Saturday Night Competition. She was co-creator of the off-Broadway hit, This is Burlesque as well the on-going U.S. tour, Burlesque-A-Pades, starring the “#1 Burlesque Attraction in the Nation”(AOL.com), The World Famous Pontani Sisters. Angie will also be featured in the PBS series Great Performances, performing live at Lincoln Center with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. This is scheduled to air on PBS on October, 24, 2014.

Jen Gapay is the founder of Thirsty Girl Productions, which debuted in 1997 in Seattle with Capitol Hill Block Party, now one of the largest annual urban music festivals in the country. From 2000 to 2002, she was the Promotions Director at the Village Voice, where she created and produced the Siren Music Festival at Coney Island. Other notable accomplishments include the New York Boylesque Festival, which she co-produces with famed NYC producer Daniel Nardicio, and the Coney Island Talent Show, now in its fourth year. She was also the artistic director for the Dresden Dolls’ F**k the Back Row tour in 2006 and talent coordinator for several of their tours in the USA, Europe and Australia. This is just a smattering of what she’s done.

From Thursday, September 25th to Sunday, September 28th, they’ll host the 12th annual New York Burlesque Festival. You can pick up full festival passes from Brown Paper Tickets HERE, and we advise you grab some ’cause they’re going quick.

We were able to chat with Angie and Jen about the festival and burlesque in New York. Jen shared some advice to event organizers and producers considering having a festival.

Wow. 12 years is quite an accomplishment. What do you feel is the secret behind the festival’s success and longevity?

Jen Gapay: Thank you. I feel that having the festival in NYC has helped the festival grow.  Everyone wants to come to New York to visit and everyone wants to come to New York to perform and that has been extremely helpful. Also Angie and I work together well as producers, run a tight ship and know how to put on a good show, so our festival has a good reputation from performers and patrons and you can’t buy that.

What performers are you especially excited for this year and why?

Jen Gapay: I am particularly excited to see Imogen Kelly from Australia perform this year. She is an amazing performer who is known as Australia’s Queen of Burlesque and also took the title of Queen of Burlesque in 2012 at The Burlesque Festival Hall of Fame Weekender in Las Vegas. She has a variety of styles and is a very visual performer, and one not to miss.

It seems that the line-up of performers is more focused on performers from NYC.  Do you feel that the pool of talent is growing in New York as burlesque becomes more popular?

Angie Pontani:
Our line-up is definitely chock-full of NYC performers, but how could it not be? New York City is home to the biggest and fastest growing burlesque community in the world, we have an insane wealth of talent here. I think that is in part to burlesque becoming more popular and also because this is New York, a thriving hot bed for the performing arts as well as one of the birthplaces of the new-burlesque resurgence. But the festival also brings in performers from around the globe. This year we have folks from Australia, Helsinki, London, Canada, New Zealand and more, not to mention representation from just about every state in the union.

Do you feel that your audiences are made of predominantly New Yorkers or do folks travel to come to the festival every year? 

Angie Pontani: We get a good amount of New Yorkers, but there are a lot of people who come to town for the weekend, some make it an annual tradition. If you’re a burlesque fan,  what better vacation can you have then catching your favorite performers from around the globe right here in the Big Apple?

How has the New York burlesque scene changed since you started the festival 12 years ago? What makes the New York scene unique?

Angie Pontani: The scene has changed and evolved over the years. When we started 12 years ago it was much smaller. We didn’t have as much of an application process, we just invited everyone we knew in burlesque and that was about 60 people mostly from NYC, LA or New Orleans. Now we are sifting through over 300 applications from all over the world.  Burlesque has grown exponentially and one of the coolest things about seeing all these performers is you get a feel for the burlesque scene where they come from. Every city has its own vibe: Chicago is really theatrical, Texas is big and showy, LA has an ultra-glam spirit, New Orleans has the blues and New York has everything.

Tell us a little about the all-new Burlesque Bazaar.

Jen Gapay:  The Burlesque Bazaar is a new event we just added to the festival last year.  It’s taking place on Sunday, September 28th at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn and will feature over a dozen vendors showcasing costumes, vintage clothing, corsets, feather accessories, pasties, Burly-Q’s Nell’s pop up burlesque museum and even Fredini’s 3-D Scan-A-Rama that can scan your image right on site. We will also have a Q&A with burlesque legend Val Valentine and feature a live pinup shoot on stage with Don Spiro and stars of the festival. Plus, this event is free.

Brown Paper Tickets is seeing burlesque festivals pop up all over the country. Now every state seems to have its own festival. What is the number one piece of advice you would give to a burlesque producer who’s thinking of starting a festival in his/her town?

Jen Gapay: I think in order to produce a successful burlesque festival, it really helps to have  a thriving burlesque scene already built into the community, so make sure you have that before doing it.

Thanks to Jen and Angie for taking the time to chat. If you’re in the New York area next weekend, be sure to check out this world-class showcase of the best that burlesque has to offer.

Comedy Outliers: Themed Shows Aren’t Hacky

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CO31 finalAnother guest post by Brandon Collins and Mike Brown of Comedy Outliers. They offer advice to comedians and performers on how to survive and thrive in today’s competitive artistic climate.

Stand-up shows are pretty straight forward. You have a host, you have a few comics go up and perform and then usually there is a headliner who does extended time to close the show on a high note. This can seem like a fairly simple formula, one relatively easy to execute. While some producers put more effort into perfecting this formula than others, there are always ways to shake things up a little bit and add some unpredictability to your show.

In the art world, fall is in full swing and for us at “Comedy Outliers” that means we get to start producing our themed shows. During the first half of the year, our show follows a specific outline that we have perfected over the two and half years we’ve been producing. During the second half of the year, we have producer Mike Brown and customer service manager Tatiana Albandos’ birthdays so we get to bring more of a party vibe to shows. Not to mention additional shows with a Halloween and winter holiday theme. These shows allow us to have a loose format, which includes performing sketches, musical numbers and even bringing in guest musicians to add a different kind of vibe. The addition of live musicians is always a hit with our audience as it is much more engaging than simply plugging in your iPod for show music.

It’s very easy to get comfortable and complacent when producing a show. But you should never be afraid of switching things up and keeping your audience excited for the next event. In the end, you should do what you feel makes your show work. However, as you continue to grow your production, you should begin allowing yourself more freedom to have more fun and in some cases get incredibly weird.

Comedy Outliers’ next show is at 22 Warren Street on Saturday, September 20th at 7pm. The show has a $10 cover with no drink minimum. Pay only $5 for advanced tickets if you use the discount code “Rasta” for $5 tickets.You can also support their efforts by hitting the “Donate” button on their website or by listening to their weekly podcast.

Net Neutrality is Freedom

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Net Neutrality “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

~ First Amendment, United States Constitution, 1791

Brown Paper Tickets views net neutrality as a protection of constitutional right. If we don’t stand together as citizens of a democratic republic, we won’t be losing our inherited freedoms – we’ll be handing them over. The freedoms our ancestors died for in other countries and in the streets of our own towns are to be cherished and celebrated, debated and defended.

While corporations may now be citizens and attempt to rule our country through plutocrats and puppetry, ours is not a country for sale. The Internet is an element of nearly all new business. It is the core of communication, assembly and organzing. How can anyone pretend the throttling of freedom is American?

Capitalism is our market choice, not our government. In our already tilted field of citizenship, where corporations run buckshot over individuals’ freedoms, proposing control and limits to the Internet is like asking a recovering patient to share an artery to help out a drunk.

We believe in the power of people to gather around a common passion, interest or cause. We serve tens of millions of event organizers and ticket buyers. Equal load times and unbiased access to digital content is what makes the Internet democratic. Anyone can tap the Internet to innovate, share, organize, learn, grow, communicate, entertain and that beautiful freedom has become a way of life.

The Internet is one of the fertile fields from which our great democracy grows anew. The place where we fight to improve our lot. And the place where we plant our dreams. It is quite possibly one of the only great democratic tools left to citizens. Do not fetter what is now an unfettered freedom of speech and access. Keep neutral what is essential for the good of humanity.

Brown Paper Tickets democratized access to ticket services back in 2000, offering event organizers free online tools to sell event tickets with fair ticket buyer service fees. Why? Because everyone has the right to gather and the right to wild and weird and funky fantastic experiences free of economic barriers and digital obstacles.

Keep the web wild, weird, fair and free.

Keep the Web Wild, Weird, Fair and Free

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net-neutrality-keep-internet-weirdThe Internet has always been a level landscape where anyone could open up a shop, share ideas, spur innovation. That freedom is possible with Net Neutrality. Open, awesome, for-anybody Internet. If you haven’t heard, Net Neutrality is under threat. Brown Paper Tickets supports equal world wide web access as an essential right.

 

US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed regulations that would allow big cable companies and telecom to employ Internet fast lanes with extra fees. What does that mean? Sites would slow. Small service providers and business owners would be left in the dust. It’s not only a competitive disadvantage, it’s a free speech issue as it provides an opportunity for big companies to discriminate against online content and applications.

 

You might already know us as Not-Just-For-Profit, free thinkers of the ticketing world. We serve millions of ticket buyers, thousands of event producers. Artists. Musicians. People who are shaking things up, serving the community. Garden party, heavy metal show, big stage or intimate venue, it’s 100% free to ticket your vision with us.

 

We stand with millions of others out there fighting to keep the Internet wild, weird, wonderful and free. Comments to the FCC will close the end of the day on September 15. Want to keep Net Neutrality? Now is the time to make your voice heard or join the Battle for the Net.

6 Tips to Better Farm-to-Table Events

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carrots-farm-to-tableChefs are talking about it. Foodies are asking for it. These days, farm to table is on the tips of everyone’s tongues.

High-quality ingredients make a chef’s job easier since they are so naturally delectable.  Any respectable food lover will search for the freshest and most lovingly grown produce.  More and more, restaurant owners are partnering with local farmers to find it. In some cases, they’re cutting out the middle man and farming their own ingredients.

Any way you slice it, farm to table fundamentally changed the way we dine out.

Today’s food lover and farm-to-table dinners

Today’s food lover wants to know where it comes from, how it was grown, and if it will be around next time. Farm-to-table dinners allow food fans to get up close and personal to what they’re eating and hopefully, walk away with a greater appreciation for it. The term “farm to table” has to do with the process of growing, harvesting, preparing and consuming food.  However, many types of food and beverage events fit under this umbrella.  On the farm or in the restaurant, the slow food and farm-to-table movement puts the spotlight on the highest-quality, locally grown ingredients.

No need to overdress for these dining experiences, the focus is on the food. If you are considering hosting your own farm-to-table event, kudos to you. This movement will slowly re-school us on how vital and precious food is to long-term survival. Since farm-to-table events involve a lot of harvesting and preparing ingredients right from the farm, it’s smart to have a checklist for your event planning.

We know your farm-to-table event is going to be great, but the below tips will help make it even better.

6 tips to a better farm-to-table experience

1. If you are hosting an outdoor event, be aware of the experience you are building.  Once you have a realistic inventory of possible issues, you can address them one by one.  Ifcity-growers-urban-farming-benefit you don’t have access to a farm, reach out to some in your area. It’s a great way to build community.

2. Going to be outdoors? Don’t forget about pests. Bees, mosquitoes, ants, or greedy birds could throw a wrench in the works, so have a test dinner prior to the event.  Find methods for detouring/repelling critters without also repelling your guests.  Marigolds and other plants make good natural repellents that don’t overpower the senses.

3. Wind, rain and yes, too much sun can turn a picturesque dinner into a logistic nightmare. No one wants soggy biscuits, so have a second location planned in case it pours.  Follow weather forecasts and adjust accordingly.

4. Keep your dishes and décor simple and elegant. Minimalist décor offers a more authentic experience and frees up time and resources that could be put into the execution of the event. Choose simple recipes that highlight flavor; the best ingredients will taste amazing with little help. Make sure that as many ingredients as possible are locally grown by organic sustainable farms.  If you have a dish in mind and can’t source the ingredients, try a different recipe or variation.  This limitation will bring out your creativity and inspire your visitors to buy locally.

5. Make your guests feel at home on the farm. Ensure a great, homey ambiance by inviting people you know. Friends, family, or farm staff could make wonderful assistant hosts.  Allow plenty of time before, after and in-between courses for guests to take in the surroundings and chat.  If everything goes well, time stands still and memories are made.

6. Above all, relish the event and your company.  Confidence and genuine enjoyment are absolute musts to making your dinner a sweet success.  The impression from a great night will last a lifetime and keep diners coming back.

Calling all food lovers: Comment below with your fresh tips on food. Hungry? Find a farm-to-table feast near you.

(First photo from City Growers Benefit last month in New York)

Marijuana Events: Lessons Learned for Organizers and Attendees

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Bud and EventsYou’ve heard it. Marijuana is the new merlot. Green-tie is the new black tie. The modern pot party is here and if you live in Washington or Colorado, you’re invited.

Wait … where are all those hip gatherings starring Mary Jane?

If you’re a Washington or Colorado event organizer, you may have considered having a tasting, concert or theater event, appealing to the epotcurious. White linens. Dazzling chandeliers. Marijuana mashed potatoes served out of a martini glass.

Or what about a weed wedding? Pot weddings complete with joints as favors, budtenders and bud bouquets are a new trend according to a recent New York Times article. Marijuana tourism offers another pun-rife, alliterative business opportunity: Bed and Bakefast anyone? How about a Toke Tour?

Legally, residents of Washington and Colorado can purchase pot and imbibe in private. But curating a compliant 4/20-friendly event isn’t cut and dry. Legal haziness over what constitutes public and private has made organizing a marijuana soiree somewhat of a pain in the gluteus maximus.

That hasn’t stopped event planners from trying.

Classically Cannabis, The High Note Series

Jane West, owner of Edible Events, Co., an event planning company that specializes in cannabis events ran into a few snafus when she planned Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Originally, the three-concert fundraiser was a public event until Denver city officials urged the Colorado Symphony to shut it down.

But the show must go on. And so, West worked closely with the city and turned it into a private, invitation-only affair with donations. “There are a lot of unsafe, unregulated events,” West said. She stressed that her events are bring-your-own-cannabis (BYOC) and strive to comply. “I talked to 6 different gallery owners and picked a private gallery with a large outdoor patio.” The promotional page for the concert included a lengthy disclaimer.

The last of three concerts wrapped up on August 15. Despite all the hoopla beforehand, they went smoothly. Lesson learned: work with the city, host private events and strive to comply.

Hemposium at Washington HempfestWhere’s the Pot Party? Private Venues Reign

Currently, laws in both states prohibit open and public consumption on public property. Despite what a lot of people think, public consumption includes vaporizers and medibles, like brownies. What about a private loft, farmhouse or gallery? Sure, but opening a large marijuana event to the public might present issues. And before you take your party to the high seas, keep in mind Washington waters are regulated by federal agencies.

Meet the Bud Garden: Secure Pot Spots

Seattle Hempfest set up two 21 and over adult lounges, shielded from public view. Inside the sponsored tents, adults sat comfortably on lawn chairs set up around tables, quietly puffing, passing and chatting.

Seattle Hempfest2014 was the first year Hempfest included the lounges. Vivian McPeak, Executive Director of Hempfest explained in the event program, “The 21 and over lounges are part of a pilot program aimed at reducing youth exposure to pot smoke and providing cool spaces with education, refreshments, and ambiance. If we can make this model work over time it will be the first step to having adult toking areas in every public event in Washington.”

Along a similar vein (er…strain) the Denver County Fair (Aug. 1-3) set up a carded pot pavilion on a separate level from the rest of the fair. According to the fair’s website, “In compliance with Denver’s new laws, there will be no marijuana allowed on the premises during this event.”

But what’s a pot pavilion without … pot? A rolling contest, a blue ribbon marijuana plant contest, Doritos-eating contest, and laser light show. Judging for some of the activities took place off-site. All fun and games and cannabis compliant. However, this event didn’t end so smoothly. Fair officials are currently investigating three separate claims of THC-poisoning that allegedly came from a chocolate bar sample handed out by a fair pavilion vendor. The candy was supposed to be drug-free.

Roll Out: What Should Event Organizers Do?

Learn from example. A cannabis-friendly event can be a good or bad high depending on how you navigate the nebulous new laws.