Getting into the NYC Comedy Clubs
The other most frequent question I get from comics is “How do I get into the clubs?”
So you’ve been busting your ass off at the Open Mics, lost all your friends with your multiple bringer shows, and are now looking to get passed at a comedy club. Assuming your act is up to snuff (tip: go to a comedy club that you’re looking to get passed at and watch the comics on the line up – can you match the level of laughs they are getting if it were you up there? The good news is to get the initial guest spot pass you do not necessarily have to be as strong as those paid pros. Many of the clubs do groom new talent, but you do want to be able to hold your own – cos these are the comics you are going to have to follow and the audience is going to expect the quality to be at least somewhat consistent between comics). So, assuming you are good and ready, here are the nuts and bolts:
First and foremost, if you have a strong credit like a late night TV credit, then it’s best to get a friend who is a regular at the club to recommend you and you can send that nice hot tape of yours killing on late night. Even if you don’t have a strong credit, referrals from a trusted regular always carry weight. By the way the Comedy Cellar requires TWO recommendations from club pros. But if you have the above, chances are you are not reading this blog post, so here goes – other ways of getting into some of the NYC clubs:
Standup NY: The comics who have gotten in have all told me it’s a matter of “hang out hang out hang out” – go to the club, get to know the people there, let them know you are a comic. There is a bar outside the showroom where comics hang out – one of the bookers is often there too. The other way to get in is to go to the Grisly Pear open mic/show run by the Comedy Mob – 7pm on Thursdays and one of bookers, Jon, is often at this show. I believe Comedy Mob also runs audition shows (bringer, but once you’re in it will be the last time you have to bring for the club!) for the booker on some Saturdays at 5pm so worth checking them out: https://www.facebook.com/ComedyMob/
New York Comedy Club: Ryan Dacalos runs an audition show for the club every Saturday at 5pm. 5 person bringer. You can email him at email@example.com to ask to be set up with an audition. Usually one gets passed for late night first (where you go up after the main show to do 5 min sets) but comics have definitely moved on up from late night to checks, and then guest spots.
Broadway Comedy Club: Bringer audition about one Saturday a month or so – this show is super packed (like 200 people or so) so you will at least get a great tape out of it. This is run by Gordon at the Industry Room: https://www.theindustryroom.com/ His contact details are on the website. You stand to win a 2 month Residency at the Broadway Comedy Club (and I know one superstar who got a SIX month residency), meaning you are on a pro show once a week for 2 months – which is a tremendous way to get stronger. Comics have gotten booked to be in the regular rotation after doing the Residency. Note that even if you don’t get the 2 month Residency they will also give out mini residencies (one month) or guest spots to other comics who did well so there’s often something to be gotten out of doing this show.
Greenwich Village Comedy Club: They offer an internship program where you do some work (like working the door) in exchange for stage time. The comics I know who have done it have gotten very strong from all the consistent stage time they got from doing this – up to 3 shows a night on a weekend. And I know they have gotten into the regular rotation as well once they proved themselves. I think you can just show up and introduce yourself and say you are interested and have a talk to the manager about it. Broadway also has an internship program.
Comic Strip Live: Bringer audition every Saturday to get passed for late night (and people have really gotten into the paid rotation after spending some time doing late night). Contact DF Sweedler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Producing a show – a lot of the clubs allow external producers to produce shows at their club. This is a good way of getting in with a club, and I know of many comics, myself included, who have gotten into the rotation because of producing shows at a club. You can hit the club cold and ask to produce there, or better yet, ask a fellow producer who produces at the club to make an introduction.
Getting into NYC clubs isn’t an easy task – I once read that it was easier to get a Late Night TV credit than to get passed at a NYC club. But with audition showcases and internship programs these days, it’s definitely more accessible to newer comics who haven’t quite broken into the TV credit realm yet.