Jenn Says Stuff: Behind Event Promotion

The life behind event promotion.

I am a comedian and as a lay person I have chaired or organized many events for the government and non-profit sectors. Logistically the government was a pain but I was being paid quite a bit of money, and they had a built-in audience. I never had to worry about promotion. For nonprofit events, there was creative freedom and it was easy to sell the event to people. There was still quite a bit of hustling, but in the end, a good cause can sell many tickets. Everyone wants to help dogs and kids.

Now as a comedian I have organized large shows and small shows. I have lost up to $5000 on one show (so much fun) and have gained almost as much on another. A few years ago, I decided to stop producing anything that I was not performing in. I had to focus on “my brand” and start to garner money for my art. What that means is I stopped producing gala shows and stopped producing open mic shows. If it isn’t about me, then the risk was too big. That sounds grandiose, but I have a family to consider and wow they do not enjoy me losing money. They like food on the table and the heat to be paid. So demanding!!

I am paid for my comedy and as a speaker. I love it but I am always trying to figure out where I personally want to go with my talents. I decided a few months ago that I wanted to take the vision of my You Tube show to the live stage. A live talk show that would promote local talent, local merchants and, um, me. A chance for me to be creative and think outside the standup box. This will be my chance to be silly!

I thought of the concept, talked to Yuk Yuk’s and they were game to try some alternative formatting for comedy. I spoke to some local comedians who were excited to do something different and have two special guests, one local radio morning show personality and one power lesbian couple in the health and wellness industry. We have a debate on trump, feminist football trivia, “what’s in the can” game show and erotic poetry.

That alas is the easy part of producing. Ideas are a dime a dozen, at least for me. Then after the idea, you put your money in for the venue, produce marketing materials, create the mandatory Facebook event page and start nagging everyone you know. For you see, no matter how great the production is, filled with great talent, fantastic content, and affordable prices, as people, we only have so much time in the day. If you don’t have a built-in audience or you don’t have kittens or kiddies that benefit from the show, then people have to really evaluate if it’s worth their time.

I know this because I am also a person who tries to get out to support shows, but finds myself tired at night, or wanting to hang with my kids. (they are now teenagers so this is becoming less desirable #snarkykids) We, as producers and promoters, have to give a reason for people to go. Why should they come downtown to be entertained? They have YouTube for goodness sakes, there are cats on roombas chasing ducks!

That’s where the hustle comes in. Every show has a benefit to us. You come to my show so I can make money and pay my bills. Incentive for some, but not most. You come to my show and support local talent and merchants. Maybe some more incentive but there is local talent and merchants out every day.  What is your hook???

I wrote previously about why I love what I do. It lists the reasons I think comedy benefits others. This is a good reason for sure, but will it be enough?  Most times it will be, but in the end, it becomes like any business; you are building your brand and your own personal market. In this case, I am deviating from straight stand up and delivering diversity in performances, which is also a benefit. In the end though, we nag, we advertise, we hustle, we smile and we fricken hope enough people are going to come!

This hustle is not unique to comedy, it is for musicians, trade shows, pretty much any event in the city. Pity and paying the bills will not get you an audience alone, so you must find your hook. So, for my fun, I am going to list the top ten benefits for you to attend this specific show on April 25th.

  1. Laughters helps increase your sexual libido. I do not know if this is true but it sounds right.
  2. You will receive health tips from Holly Warner. You will also laugh as we joke about health.
  3. Erotic poetry is bound to help your game at picking up potential dates.
  4. You will find out WHAT’S IN THE CAN!!!!!!
  5. Yuk Yuk’s has amazing chicken wings and they have a popcorn machine. Does You Tube have a popcorn machine?
  6. You will learn things from the trump debate. I chose two very fun but also very smart comedians for this debate!
  7. You will burn calories. Not just from laughing but from the dance off!
  8. You will learn football AND feminist trivia. BOTH in the same place!
  9. Prizes! We have prizes!
  10. This is a community event designed to promote community participation and promotion.

So, cheers to all event planners, community developers, artists and the people who hustle every day to get that audience to their shows. It’s not an easy sell, no matter how great the talent, because for every desire to attend shows, we also have a desire to watch Netflix, YouTube or anything where we can be in our jammies. I get it, but you know, put some pants on and see you on the 25th!

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