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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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Foodie Friday: Ghormeh Sabzi – A Super Food

539wCooking with herbs and other leafy greens is a delicious and very nutritious way to go. With organic farming making huge waves we are provided an ever-growing selection of fresh, healthy options to for us to cook with. Nutrient rich dishes are growing more and more popular in part due to this increase of awareness and availability. These healthy meals have always been popular in kitchens all over the world, you just have to know where to look. Although you can easily grab all of those great ingredients and throw them into your juicer for a supercharged glass of go-juice, once in a while it’s nice to site down and savour your health food.

Ghormeh Sabzi is a traditional Iranian stew that embodies health on many levels. If there ever was a super food, this has got to be one of them. It has been around for well over five hundred years and it’s a real favorite of mine. I always feel great after eating it. This dish is usually served with polow which is a specifically prepared long grain rice. This Persian-style rice takes a lot more work but is most definitely worth the effort. When making polow there is a crust of golden brown rice that forms at the bottom of the pot called tahdig. This highly-prized, crispy treat is usually dished up for special guests since it is in short supply and considered very special.  This succulent stew also can easily be made as a vegan dish by simply leaving out the meat, adding potatoes, or adding anything you like.

Make the recipe your own and enjoy the slow methodical preparation because that’s healthy too. Be well!
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Foodie Friday: Fresh Baked Bread

2104039823_b47da37172_bOne of the most comforting and inviting smells on a cold winter afternoon is freshly baked bread. The smell grabs right onto your olfactory senses and magically transports you to a very cozy place. Making your own bread may seem intimidating if you haven’t ever tried it, but I am here to tell you that it’s easy. With a little elbow grease and some pretty basic ingredients you can impress your family with fresh baked bread all winter long.

Now, the most important thing to remember when making bread is to relax and find a nice clean surface large enough to make your bread while not making a huge mess. I clear my counter completely whenever I make bread so I have plenty of room to work. Make sure you have measuring cups and spoons a large mixing bowl and a heavy wooden spoon. Having these items on hand will definitely make the process easier. I also recommend getting all of the ingredients out and in a spot that is easy to access. Once you start mixing, your hands will be messy so measuring your ingredients ahead of time is highly recommended.

When choosing a recipe, remember that baking is science. Therefore sometimes a formula (recipe) may not be perfectly written. Variables such as the water and your oven will change the way your bread turns out. Nothing to fear. The worst thing that will happen is your bread isn’t perfect. Adapt your recipe or try a different one until you find something you love. If your bread turns out perfect the first time you attempt it, way to go! If not, try try again and I promise you will get the hang of it. You may even want to take your own notes and re-write a recipe as you go.

Replacing liquids, and types of flour or fat will allow you to experiment and find something that works for you. Try almond milk in place of cow’s milk and olive oil in place of melted butter for a vegan bread recipe. If you are gluten-free there are a number of options available to replace the flour with. The most important things to consider when adapting a bread recipe are not to overheat the yeast, follow the steps in the same order, and work your dough to consistency without being afraid to add more flour if needed.

Here is a very basic bread recipe for you to use as a canvas. Enjoy!
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Foodie Friday: Kids On the Go!

It seems like no matter how much running around we do in the summer it still manages to get busier in the fall. For the parents out there, getting your youngsters prepared to go back to school is no small task, as I’m sure you already know. When your kids are still not quite old enough for school it means more rainy days inside, or on the go. Whether you are planning cold lunches for school or to take with you while running errands, having a game plan can really give you an advantage.

Buying prefabricated snacks and beverages for your kiddos can be very tempting to a modern family on the go. Don’t do it! Most of these items are not only pricey but loaded with chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. Finding healthy snacks that travel well is well within your reach. With a little creativity and planning, your kids will be happy and healthily fed.
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The Mid-Week Beat: A Weekend of Country, Roots Rock & Bluegrass!

national_barn_dance_1940-499x401Even just a cursory perusal of Brown Paper Ticket’s music events for this weekend will reveal a plethora of great roots rock, country music and bluegrass going on everywhere. Must be the harvest season and the feeling of getting back to the farm but we got some great events going on in barns, bars and theaters across America.

In some parts of the country, this may be the last weekend of nice weather. I know here in Seattle we’re starting to feel a little extra crispness in the air and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the autumn season than enjoying the sound of banjos, steel guitars and sweet, rootsy harmonies.

Here are our picks for the upcoming weekend:

Thursday, September 5

The Bellamy BrothersEmporia, Kansas   Clark Carpet & Tile and KVOE  are proud to present Country Legends, The Bellamy Brothers tomorrow at The Emporia Granada Theatre. The Bellamys are best-known for the easy rolling, ’70s Southern soft rock classic “Let Your Love Flow” as well as “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold it Against Me?,” “Redneck Girl,” and many, many more. The Bellamy Brothers are the most successful duo in country music history, consistently climbing into the upper reaches of the Billboard country charts during the ’80s. More than most acts of the late ’70s and ’80s, the Bellamys pushed the borders of country music, adding strong elements of rock, reggae, and even rap, racking up a string of Top Ten singles that ran into the early ’90s.

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Foodie Friday: Spicy Pickled Veggies

pickled-vegetablesFor those of you that have a green thumb, this time of year can be very busy. As your bounty of summer vegetables and tomatoes are ripening in front of your eyes, you’re probably frantically looking recipes in order to put all these delicious, fresh veggies to use. You have been nurturing them for months, and now it’s time to reap the rewards of what you had sewn.

Salads and gazpacho account for a great deal of the veggies in my garden, but I also like to trade and go to local farms.

What do I do with all of the goodies I find there? Why pickle them of course!

Pickling is a quick and easy way to savor the flavor of summer while doing something interesting with your afternoon. You can use just about any veggie you want in place of the ones I have decided on, as long as you keep them about the same size and blanch the harder ones so they don’t break your teeth. Wax beans, baby carrots, cauliflower florets, okra pods, sliced sweet bell pepper, sliced cucumber, whole button mushrooms, peppers, or radishes all make for tasty tart treats in the summer heat. Enjoy!
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Foodie Friday: Corned Beef and Cabbage

555772_10151489642891407_619066285_nSpring is just around the corner, my friends. The weather will soon be turning around, along with our minds and spirits. For those of us that have been holding back on the recreation since the holidays, the idea of feasting, drinking and socializing is starting to sound pretty good. All the hard work and diligence required to get through the winter months is starting melt away as we embrace the newness and vibrant growth around us.

February and March are host to several occasions for celebration, none of which hold a candle to St. Patrick’s Day. I can get behind any holiday that celebrates food and beer in a lively social atmosphere. Now for the novice this might just mean a chance to go out on the town and chug green beer until you get sent home. But to the Foodie it’s a time to cook, and believe me when I say preparations for this day have already begun in my house.

This week, I wanted to share my recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage. While anyone can run down to the supermarket and grab a pre-brined brisket with spice packet, pop it into some water, and drink until it’s done, making it from scratch is always more satisfying (and I think it tastes better too). Serve this recipe to good friends along with plenty of beer and a few shots of Irish whiskey. Bain sult as! (Enjoy!)
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Foodie Friday: Cioppino

This last week I had the pleasure of attending the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, California. Along with what seemed an endless sampling of specialty foods such as cheese, olive oil, chocolate, and even wine, I also had the the opportunity to spend the day checking out the beautiful city.

As I made my way around the city peeking my head into the various shops and restaurants I suddenly had a craving for seafood. I hopped a trolly in the wonderful sixty degree weather and rode it all the way to the end of the line which conveniently ended at Fisherman’s Wharf. I strolled, casually soaking in the smell of clean salt air and fresh seafood. I wandered up to one of the many stands and poured over the menu while a steel drum band played a rendition of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.” After receiving what turned out to be the freshest tasting crab cocktail I can remember having in a long time, I savored my lunch on a park bench with the warm sun on my shoulders.

Upon returning to Seattle I was reflecting on my trip and all the great food I had tried while I was down there. I realized I had missed something I had planned on having… Cioppino! How could I visit the Bay Area and not have this wonderful seafood stew? I love it! I grew up eating it. Well I missed my chance this time but you can bet it will soon make an appearance at my dinner table.

Here is my recipe for Cioppino, feel free to change out ingredients to make it your own. Enjoy!
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Foodie Friday: Ratatouille with Herb Quinoa

Eating healthy can be challenging for a foodie. The truth is, most of us love rich foods usually involving duck fat or butter.

That said, the older I get, the less I find myself eating these things. Sure, I crave the occasional confit. Who doesn’t? However, I am now trying to balance out the bad with the good by making a majority of my meals healthier. There are plenty of great, classic dishes that aren’t going to make you hang your head in shame right in your trusty Escoffier. Cutting out as much fat and carbohydrates as you can is important but, so is doing the thing your mother has been telling you your whole life; “Eat your vegetables!”

Personally, I love vegetables in all forms, and Ratatouille is a perfect example. Ratatouille is a classic dish that has all the makings of a great low-fat meal. I like to serve mine with a nice herb quinoa; a low-carb, high protein alternative to rice or couscous. You could easily put what ever you want with your Ratatouille. Remember a recipe is only a guideline. Enjoy!

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Foodie Friday: Tilapia en Papillote with Spinach Sesame seed salad

Congratulations! We made it through the holidays. Now it’s time to tighten the belt and after the past couple months of excess and rich foods it’s likely that some of us are more than ready to get back on track.

The most common resolution for the New Year is to trim down and lose those winter “coats.” Along with a few extra trips to the gym it is also essential to find meals that are both delicious and nutritious in order to shed those extra pounds.

This recipe is for an individual portion. You can assemble as many as you need for your guests, if desired. The spinach recipe that accompanies should serve four people. If you want you can serve this with steamed rice.

Remember a recipe is only a guideline, make it your own and you are sure to create something truly wonderful. Enjoy!

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