Laughing all the way to the bar!
With the increase of VAT and disposable income being squeezed further, Live Entertainment in pubs is becoming more of a necessity in attracting drinkers in, especially midweek. In times of hardship audiences are looking for value for money, and whilst going to the cinema still offers the ultimate in escapism, a comedy show can provide good value light relief. If you can include added value items like “food and a show” then this will make a complete night out, and for couples on a budget make a worthwhile alternative to the “dinner and a movie” option.
A comedy night can not only encourage your existing clientele to come in on an extra night of the week, but also introduce people who have never set foot in your pub, who then will come back time and again.
The success of a comedy night depends as much on the quality of the show as it does on the enthusiasm of the landlord. If you are keen to make it work, and put the effort in, it’ll be a real asset to your venue, and can put your pub on the comedy map. Equally if you just open the doors on the night, it can fail from week one.
So, what do you need to do? You’ll need to charge an admission fee, both to make it financially viable and so that the audience make a commitment to the show; if people haven’t paid then they’ll talk through the show and ruin it for everybody. So in an ideal world you’d need a separate function room and your audience need to be seated as people can’t laugh if they are standing for 2 hours. You’ll need good quality sound and good enough lights that the audience can see the performer. Despite a lot of comedy being verbal, if the comic is in darkness the jokes just don’t work. And if you have a bar in the same room as the comedy then you’ll need to close it during the show and re-open it during the interval. Alternatively you could opt for table service.
Bear in mind, however, that comedy audiences aren’t in general great drinkers, so the idea is to make something from the door, something from the bar, and something from the food. The returning trade is where the real money is.
A show usually consists of an MC who is probably the most experienced comedian on the bill, and two or three other acts. You can also include try-outs (open spots) who may come with the show, or you can recruit your own locally. Unlike bands, comics in general don’t bring their own audience, so you’ll need to do publicise the event both in-house and in the locality. This can be done with posters/flyers, and by using the local media (free tickets and editorial in local press). Word of mouth works best, so once one show has gone well, the word will spread for the next one. Membership schemes are beneficial, and by encouraging a “Comedy Club” feel about the whole thing you can offer discounted tickets or a free drink to members, and then you have their email address and you can publicise future shows directly to them.
Comedy is seasonal, and in general works best when it’s dark outside – so numbers tend to drop off from May to September, but on a dark winters night, there’s nothing like going to a comedy club and putting the world to rights, or laughing at the misfortune of the man on stage.
If you want to find out more about staging comedy at your venue then give Punchline Comedy Club a call on 0208 429 3179 or Email:-