Comedy Outliers: Third Time’s the Charm

Comedy-Outliers-3YearAnniGuest post by Brandon Collins and Mike Brown of Comedy Outliers. They offer advice to comedians, performers and event organizers on how to survive and thrive in today’s competitive artistic climate.

“It’s all in the game…”

Over the past three years, the NY comedy scene has changed significantly. Some comedy clubs have come and gone. Some have opened or reopened to great success. The alternate scene for comedy has also changed. When we first began “Comedy Outliers” in 2012, there were only a handful of independent shows in the city. Now, several shows run in bars and theaters every night in every borough. Some are good, some are poor examples of what stand-up comedy can be. Either way, comics and producers have really stepped it up over the past three years.

Our Advice: Be Adaptable

“Comedy Outliers” has worked on being adaptable and making sure that we’re constantly ahead of the curve. This has presented some challenges, which were even more compounded with our venue issues. Nonetheless, our reputation amongst comedians has never faltered and our audience has always shown up month after month. But even with all of the successes and yes, failures … we’re still here. Three years later. With a popular show born out of a Facebook chat that turned into a showcase featured in the New York Comedy Festival and The New York Times. We learned to take a moment to reflect on past achievements in order to set goals for the future. We’re thinking about expansion, improving our current products (new and improved CO podcast coming soon) and potentially taking the show on tour. Once you realize you can achieve the goals you set out for yourself, the possibilities are endless. Hope ya’ll continue to rock with us as we begin year four.

A note for New Yorkers: Go out and celebrate three years of Comedy Outliers at Lilly O’Briens (18 Murray Street) on Saturday, February 28th at 7PM. The show has a $15 cover with no drink minimum. Pay only $10 if you purchase tickets in advance. You can also support their efforts by donating on their website or listening to their weekly podcast.

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Making Your Talent Feel Appreciated

CO30Guest 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.

A few years ago, when we were producing one of our first independent comedy club shows we were asked by a comic performing on my show, “So since you’re charging a cover how much am I making for my set?” At that time we were so ignorant to the business of stand-up comedy, we had no idea what they were talking about. But after speaking with some veteran comics whose opinions we greatly respected, we came to learn that the common rule of thumb with comedy shows is: if you charge a cover, you SHOULD pay your talent. Of course there are some show producers that don’t follow that rule and some comics don’t expect to get paid for every bit of stage-time. This is because stage-time and money are both valuable to a working stand-up comic. When we ran our “Comedy Outliers” show without a cover, there was never any expectation to pay our comics with anything besides a free beer and a sincere “thank you” for their time and talent. The only comic we would pay during that time was the headliner as they were usually a highly regarded comic who had several credits and added a certain amount of hype to help build the “Comedy Outliers” brand. We would pay for these comics out of pocket, which became expensive after nearly two years of being an entirely free show.

One of the main reasons we began charging a cover (we try to keep it as affordable as possible btw, use discount code “Summer” for $5 tickets) was because we wanted to be able to pay ALL of our performing comics. Another reason was to build the brand through better podcast equipment and merchandise, but we can only continue to produce great shows and content if we have exceptional talent. By creating a budget as producers and knowing our limits in what we can pay for talent has forced us to produce a much tighter show that provides a high quality experience for our audience. It is important to remember as producers that your talent needs to feel like their time and talent is being appreciated. When we were just a free bar show, the performing comics were just happy to be in front of a great crowd that was both diverse and energetic. Now we can offer that pay them for their time that they could’ve spent at another show. This has helped us build a stronger relationship with the comedy community in NYC that we love so dearly. They are always appreciative of the gesture and that’s a great feeling to have as a show producer. Keep that in mind when you produce your new show…spread the wealth!

Comedy Outliers’ next show is at Brick NYC (22 Warren Street) on Saturday, July 26th at 7pm. The show has a $10 cover with no drink minimum. Pay only $5 for advanced tickets if you use the discount code “Summer” for $5 tickets! You can also support their efforts by hitting the “Donate” button on their website or by listening to their weekly podcast.

 

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Comedy Outliers-The Times They Are A-Changin’

COwebaprilGuest 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.

It was time to make a decision and it would not be an easy one. After producing an “Outliers” show for a private YELP event and hosting a successful 2-year show, we were offered an amazing opportunity to bring our talents to Webster Hall. It was a bittersweet moment for us as we wanted to remain loyal to Lilly O’Briens, but with their new construction delayed indefinitely and our following growing more each week, we had to take this opportunity. We were given the chance to run our show just the way we have in the past but this time with the support of a business with a high profile and its own following. Everything’s perfect right?

This is where our dilemma came. After 2 years of hosting free monthly showcases, this new relationship with Webster Hall would allow us to book top talent but at a cost. A $10 cover. Our main concern with this new cover admission? Would our fans come? We had been providing what we felt was a great product that garnered strong praise from comics, positive word of mouth amongst our audience and the attention of NY publications. But this had all been for free. Would this work? In this brief lapse of confidence,  we began to worry about whether or not this would work. However, this moment also brought some clarity. If after 2 years, our fan base wasn’t willing to pay an admission charge for our showcase, which had been consistent and praised then maybe it’s not as successful as we thought. After months of hearing various audience members tell us, “You should be charging SOMETHING for this amazing show!” It was now time to see if they would come through for us. It was a huge leap of faith but with the turn-out of more than 50 people during our first showcase in early March, we were proud of our decision. Not only were we able to pay all of our talent, we were also able to purchase better raffle prizes, invest in a new “Comedy Outliers” banner and new podcast equipment.

This is the next step in our evolution. It’s risky and requires even more work on our part when it comes to marketing, producing and executing a show that has helped us build a mailing list of hundreds. We are excited, nervous and thankful for this opportunity to work with Webster Hall on expanding the Outliers brand. Year 3 looks very promising.

Comedy Outliers next show on Saturday, April 5 has a $10 cover with no drink minimum. Buy advance tickets. Support their efforts by hitting the “Donate” button on their website.

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Spit Take Saturday: Karen Kilgariff

KK-cover-1600-copyWelcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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There’s an outtake from Season 3 of HBO’s Mr. Show with Bob and David in which Karen Kilgariff, then a performer on the Nineties sketch series, mocks herself by furrowing her brow and shaking her fist at someone off camera after flubbing a line. It’s throwaway by design, but it sticks with the viewer and underscores Kilgariff’s ability to turn random moments of self-awareness into pointed, memorable humor.

** WARNING! This video contains language that my be offensive to some viewers. Discretion is advised. **



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Spit Take Saturday: Ted Alexandro

ted-alexandro-IDidIt-585x585Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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The title of Ted Alexandro’s new special derives from his proud declaration that he is “44, single, never married, no kids. I did it!” It serves as both a memorable joke and a fantastic setup for the beginning of his new special, filmed last August at The Creek and the Cave comedy club in Long Island City, Queens.



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Spit Take Saturday: Morgan Murphy

514Vah5BY5L._SL500_AA280_Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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Morgan Murphy knows how to write a joke. She’s a Twitter phenom and has written for 2 Broke Girls, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live. She’s got a great comedic mind, and it’s clear why she’s done well for herself as a TV writer—her jokes are smart and her material covers, with equal weight, Planned Parenthood and How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days.



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Comedy Outliers: Would You Like Be On My Show?

CO24finalToday we feature another guest post from Comedy Outliers. They offer great advice to comedians, or performers in general, on how to survive and thrive in today’s competitive artistic climate.

The Comedy Outliers have their annual holiday show coming up this Saturday, January 18th at Lilly O’Brien‘s in New York City. Their shows are free but we highly recommend you pick up tickets so you don’t show up to a full house.

If you’re in New York or headed that way, be sure to check out their show. It’s rare to see comedy of this calibre without a cover charge or drink minimum. That said, if you want them to continue bringing these great shows to the Big Apple, we highly encourage you to support their efforts by hitting the “Donate” button on their website.

“Yes, I’m available! Let’s do it!”

Those are words that a producer loves to hear when they are trying to book acts for their shows. Reaching out to talent to perform on your show can be quite intimidating and it is often accompanied with rejection or delayed responses that may not come until a week AFTER your event happened. Nonetheless, when you get the act that you feel will be a great fit for your show it is extremely rewarding.

There have been times when we reached out to a comedian about performing on our show only to have them respond that they were unavailable. Did we leave it at that? Of course not! We politely follow-up every month or so with the next date and to inquire about their availability to perform on our show. Sometimes this back and forth goes on for months and in some cases it has taken almost a year to book specific comics (cough) Hannibal Burress (cough)!

Remember when you are trying to book talent that you need to be professional, polite and understanding of their schedules. Creative people, especially comics are impulsive and at times unpredictable which causes challenges when booking them. There have been times when despite our efforts a comic will bail last minute because of a random paying gig that came up…not going to knock that because everyone’s gotta eat! Other times they double-booked themselves (step your Google calendar game up!) However, we never take these cancellations personally but we do try to build line-ups where the comics compliment each other so it may be quite some time before we reach out to that particular comic again if we find that they aren’t the best fit for next month’s show.

Booking a show that will have numerous acts can be stressful and overwhelming at times but this is what we deal with to create the best show possible right? When you get the talent you’re looking for, don’t forget to make sure they enjoy themselves and have a memorable experience so that they can pass the word and hopefully make it easier for you to book other talent through positive word of mouth!

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Spit Take Saturday: Patrice O’Neal

patrice-oneal-unreleased1-585x510-330x287Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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Most of the new Patrice O’Neal album, Unreleased, is devoted to the late comedian’s give and take with his audience. It’s a compliment to last year’s posthumous release, Mr. P, taken from the same live shows, and in at least one significant way, better captures what was special about him as a performer. To some extent, every stand-up comedian has to sell the idea that what they’re saying is extemporaneous, not something they’ve honed to a sharp edge working stage after stage. For the audience, it has to be a fresh experience, no matter how many times the comedian has done it before.


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Spit Take Saturday: J-L Cauvin

51H5bzqyg5L._SL500_AA280_Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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At the top of his new album, Keep My Enemies Closer, New York comic J-L Cauvin comes out swinging, launching into a five-minute diatribe about Girls creator Lena Dunham, or, as Cauvin calls her, “the patron saint of overrated s#%t.” In Cauvin’s view, we’ve elevated Dunham to the role of hero because, despite her unattractive physique, she’s nonetheless willing to get naked onscreen. “She’s a hero just for showing off her flaws,” Cauvin says.


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Spit Take Saturday: Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

momsmabley05Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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Whoopi Goldberg clearly has a lot of affection for pioneering African-American comedian Jackie “Moms” Mabley, and that affection comes across in her HBO documentary Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley. Goldberg’s enthusiasm and ability to pull in big-name interviewees (including Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy and Joan Rivers) are the movie’s greatest strengths, but Goldberg isn’t much of a filmmaker, and she certainly isn’t a journalist, which makes her portrait of Mabley a little sketchy and incomplete.



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