Dealing with an "I need to go first/last/etc." comic

A fellow comic/producer asked me:

you run a couple of shows, let me ask you this, does this ever bother you, when people text you and tell you when they need to go up?

I understand if I have a big name or someone that has a paid spot somewhere else...but I have been telling every one that does my show, it starts between 8:30 and 8:45 and then I still get "dude I have to go at this time" or "I have to go first." What if they are not the stongest comic? Do you jeopardize the show and put them first? I always do my best to get them on in a good time, but it does not always happen and then they get bent out of shape.


My answer to him: If someone has another spot somewhere else, we'll try to accommodate them. Maybe not an exact time but try to get 'em up in first half or second half of show depending. Esp if they text/let us know somehow beforehand.

If they just don't wanna go first, that's another thing. No one likes going first but someone's gotta do it. I try to frame it so people see it as a compliment ("I like to have someone strong go first so i'm gonna have you open it."). I don't like putting someone weak as the first comic. Sets a bad tone for the room. I'd rather sandwich 'em in the middle somewhere.

But bottom line IMO is that no one has a right to complain about where they go in lineup. If you run a strong show, they should be happy you're giving 'em a spot wherever.

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7 Comment(s)

Anonymous Richard said...

Matt, you say that put "weak" comics in the middle of your show. But why do you invite comics to do your shows if you think they are weak? Aren't there plenty of strong comics in NYC to have a new booked show each week?

1/7/11, 2:47 PM  
Blogger Matt Ruby said...

It's all relative. We try to get plenty of A+ comics on the show but occasionally there's a newer person or out of towner that we're giving a shot to.

1/7/11, 2:50 PM  
Blogger Badinia said...

I just run an open mike, and I do try to put people up early if they need to be somewhere- but now another mike has opened up in conflict, and last time fifteen comics asked to go in the first five! I had to go random order. I do what I can.

1/8/11, 2:59 PM  
Anonymous ECN said...

Harrumph. If there are two open mics at the same time, people have to choose. If they're going to leave at the beginning of the open mic, they don't deserve the stage time in the first place -- watching (at least a substantial part of) the open mic is your payment for doing the open mic.

1/9/11, 4:03 AM  
Anonymous ECN said...

As for the original post... do people really demand to go up at a specific time, except if they have to be at another show?

I mean, I have told bookers in the past that, while I'm willing to go up first, it's not a good spot for me (because of my style). I don't see this as serving my own ends -- I don't think I'm too good for the spot or anything. I see this as looking out for the show, because there's almost always at least a couple on the bill who'd do better than me in that spot, but wouldn't do as well in a mid-show spot.

But I also try very hard not to phrase it as a demand. I feel it's my duty to warn the booker, but if they want to put me up first anyway, I'll be glad to do it. And of course I don't do this with shows where I'm not a regular, or bookers I don't know personally.

(Similarly, I have volunteered to go up first a bunch of times in scenarios where the booker is trying to determine the lineup by asking the comics. Seriously, why do bookers DO that? If you don't have ideas for arranging the comics, you shouldn't be booking a show.)

1/9/11, 4:06 AM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

"If there are two open mics at the same time, people have to choose. If they're going to leave at the beginning of the open mic, they don't deserve the stage time in the first place -- watching (at least a substantial part of) the open mic is your payment for doing the open mic."

Hear hear!

1/10/11, 10:44 AM  
Blogger soce said...

I only request specific times when I have multiple commitments. I have no problem being an opener, a middler or a closer.

I try not to do shows where being put on late means that there's no more audience left.

1/13/11, 7:28 PM