Turning pro: Tips for fledgling comics

Adam Henderson offers more advice

It was only five months ago that I felt it necessary to put together a bullet-proof guide for a fledging newbie to ascend to the throne of the comedy world. January can be a tough month to get gigs following the post-Christmas comedown, so don’t worry fellow open spotter/newbie/shit on the shoe, I will help you fill up your diary with a few helpful pointers.

By now you might have amassed 50 gigs and most of you will be wondering why you’ve not been offered paid work from the promoters you’ve gigged for. Remember that promoters are as reliable as a used tampon, only with more blood on their hands. They are holding you back and they are all ungrateful despite you making the 20 minute trip in your car in the rain, just to help them out on their pro bill, meaning you missed the highlights of the first round of the FA Cup on the BBC. Your act is flawless now, and you always get laughs from the other open spotters, even when you have a retarded crowd in who are too stupid to get the irony of your rape and aped jokes. Therefore you need to look at other ways of increasing your exposure.

Anyone who tells you to work on your act is just jealous they didn’t think of your jokes first. If they tell you that ‘no matter how many sparkly ribbons you put round a dog turd, it still stinks of shit’ tell them that getting dog shit in the eyes can blind children then spit in their face.


Create a website and never update it. Make sure you are honest about your flawless material and just how well you’ve done in such little time. Upload lots of photos of you in comedic or thoughtful poses. Create PDF files of posters you’ve been listed on. Remember your fan base will want to download them to feel close to you the star.

Print out 500 business cards. Attend pro bill nights and hand out your business card to the punters. Talk really loudly into your mobile when in ear shot of the promoter. Should an act be on stage, make sure he can hear as well. After all he may book for gigs and your conversation telling the Comedy Store that ‘you couldn’t possibly do a headline slot this Saturday as you’re already booked to do the Montreal festival’ will surely impress all in the room.

Using quotes

Are you using the right quotes? Professional endorsements will elevate you up the ladder many rungs. Make sure you make reference to dead comedians as a dead person can’t sue you. Something like ‘The Welsh Bill Hicks’ should have you signed up for spots on Have I Got News For You and QI in a matter of weeks. Hell, why not take it further and use ‘The best comedian since Lee Evans’, credited to a headliner comedian. Fuck it, go bigger, say Steve Coogan said it. Remember you need to gazump your fellow open spotter. ‘This man told a joke that cured AIDS’ –Barack Obama. This one is mine and you can’t use it.

Using Chortle

First off you’ll need to introduce yourself to the forum but you don’t want to look like a clueless newbie, therefore post about another open spot comedian friend in the comedian section. This way you’ll look like a seasoned pro, recommending a great new act. Then get your friend to return the favour. After much mutual cock rubbing, back slapping, and in-jokes promoters will be desperately fighting over who has priority over booking you.

Should a newbie post asking for advice about his upcoming first gig make sure to tell him to include lots or peado and rape jokes. If a newbie posts a video of themself make sure you offer advice. Something along the lines of ‘I like the set up but I think you should change the punchline of the joke to “and then I raped her…in the arse…with a cactus’”.

Asking for gigs

If you’ve followed my previous points then you shouldn’t really need to be asking for gigs. However, if you do have a hole in your diary it’s always best to approach the promoter via phone late at night or early in the morning especially at weekends.

Should you need to write an email make sure you write using text speech. It will show that you are cool and know how to embrace youth culture. For example instead of ‘Good Afternoon’ use ‘Sup homes’. Remember that you are doing the promoter a favour so remind them that you are looking for paid work and have a solid hour and a half of gold material. Tell them that you want to headline and will require a hotel if the venue is more than 30 minutes away from home and you demand full access to the minibar. It will be helpful to badmouth other promoters and forward on correspondence you’ve had with other promoters mocking the generous offers you have been made previously. Include a 3 -minute video clip as well, or a show reel including clips of you performing in front of a mirror. This will show how much range you have to your repertoire.

Tread carefully and be forceful. It’s a well known fact that promoters are aggressive solitary animals, much like polar bears. And just like polar bears when confronted with a lone female and child, the promoter will kill the child and mate with the female.

CV writing

Often promoters will read your comedy CV before offering spots. To make it look more impressive here’s an estate agent’s approach to language;

So you’ve been lucky once or twice to get on a pro bill as the open spot. Don’t say you shared the bill with the headline; you opened/supported the headliner.

If you’ve been unsuccessful getting on pro bills, create an open mic night and pay a headliner. Host the night yourself, therefore you can now add experienced MC to you list.

If you’ve been the last act on an open mic night or a competition, then technically you’ve headlined the evening. Make sure to mention you’ve headlined gigs.

A promoter may have previously given you money towards petrol or a beer. This is a form of payment for services rendered. Therefore claim it as a paid gig. See, it’s already looking healthier.

In next to no time you’ll be quitting your job and taking up comedy full time with a diary full of bookings. It’s easy when you know how!

  • Adam Henderson is currently looking to fill up his diary for 2011. All offers welcomed. His blog is here

Published: 31 Dec 2010

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