14 thoughts on “Why Your Obsession With Getting Booked Is Actually Hurting Your Career

  1. Jamie Ward says:

    Thanks so much for this article. One of my comedian buddies was just lamenting his lack of stage time on “booked” shows. I was simply going to link to your website like I do with most of my comedian friends who need a little sound business side advice, but low and behold this was the article you had just posted. Thanks so much. Keep up the good work.

  2. Marla Worley says:

    Liked your article very much! I was a booker for comedy and still am in a sense. I’m also a musician and have spent tons of time on the road and I know first hand how grueling it can be. When I book for comedians my first action with a club owner is accomedations. that’s right, meal, rooms and good pay for the comedians as I am still a firm believer in the old cliche, “You get what you pay for!” As for a booker making money…well I have to say I didn’t and have not gotten rich off it. It’s not hard to believe in good quality entertainment and it’s a good way to pack a club in this economic downhill trend we keep falling into. The problem I see as a booker is the not “so good” bookers have made it hard for the good ones out there, and club owners are shy about letting you in! What once was a good room is now a karaoke club or a one man band…yuk? It’s hard enough to be in the entertainment field let alone a having a heartless booker rob you clean…I adore all the comedians I’ve worked with and have booked from Grandma Lee to Darryl Rhoades…I have to mention Wynn Reichert too. Still friends with all and am still trying to break Worley Gig Comedy back into action. I truly miss booking on a regular basis, but as Arnold would put it… “I’ll Be Back!”

  3. Eric Yoder says:

    You have a few good points there Josh, but I think you may have some misconceptions of your own on bookers. I don’t know if you are referring to opinions based on personal dealings with an agency or agencies but I believe that some bookers out there that have worked with comedians for many years, do care about the progress of a comedian’s act and have some level of investment in their career path. Also, I think it’s pretty offbase to assume starting your own shows or performing at cafes, etc. is going to get you more fans.
    Don’t you agree that performing on a nationally recognized, top comedy club’s stage to a sold out room or a larger audience is more valuable and will, in fact, help you generate more fans? What about the referrals or recommendations that get passed between agency’s – opening up the opportunity for more work in markets you may not have reached otherwise to a broader, larger audience?
    If you are spending all the work and time to book and run your own shows, how do you really have time to write new material, create new content, line up shows routed to places outside of your town, etc? Booking agency’s do a lot more than just book a comedian they think will sell tickets to fill seats, though that is important, they also create and help grow a “scene” in many markets, they prepare a venue to be consistent with their shows, give them ongoing advice for promotion, as well as materials, and a lot more.
    Yes, bookers aren’t going to make you famous, that isn’t there job. However, bookers are all ultimately connected to a larger industry web, and their conversations with other agencys and larger management company’s can potentially be a huge part of helping a comedian reach new markets, fans and potentially new levels in their careers. Word of mouth from fans isn’t going to (or will rarely) create those types of opportunitys.
    Beyond club work, there is also corporate events, college work and more avenues to make money and broaden your ability in different waters.
    Again, you have some great points and I agree the “obsession” can take away time that could be used more efficiently in your career, but I think you are missing a few key concepts that booker’s can provide comedians beyond just stage time.

  4. Josh Spector says:

    Hey Eric, those are all fair points. Just to clarify, I’m not intending to knock bookers or their role in this post, but rather suggesting that they should be considered as one of many potential assets a comedian can have in building their career.

    Unfortunately, most comedians seem to think that bookers are the ONLY way to build their career (or at least they act that way), and it’s that obsession that I’m really discussing in this post.

  5. Eric Yoder says:

    Thanks for clarifying, Josh. You have some incredible insight that I think is incredibly valuable for comedians. I read your input and advice regularly and think it is fantastic for comedians! I would just hate for comedians to feel that the value of building a strong relationship with bookers isn’t valuable because of this. You have established yourself as a strong presence in comedian’s sense of business, so I want to make sure the value of booker’s isn’t being downplayed. We create a lot of opportunities for comedians (at least the honest and larger bookers), I can name many instances where comedians have called to thank me and our agency minutes before there first Leno appearance because we created a large presence for them across the country and helped boost them to the next level. Many feature or emcee acts that we book on our stages that have the opportunity to work with “big name” or even veteran headliners gives them INCREDIBLE insight into how to better their act and careers. Who else can provide that except comedians that have done that work and can give them the feedback and advice they need to help improve their act and their sense of business?? You can give and DO give great advice but nothing can be more valuable than getting feedback and advice from a comedian that hs made a successful career out of comedy and stood in the same shoes that these up and comers and beginners have. You dont find that by booking your “own shows” or creating a lot of content on your website. There is something big to be said about experiencing the “road”, working with successful comedians and learning as an individual. We both know that every comedian learns at their own pace, and in their own way.
    I truly value the help you are providing and realize you aren’t “knocking bookers” as youve stated a couple times, but you also havent recognized the value we provide that you cannot get anywhere else. Thanks Josh, I appreciate your response, and will continue to listen to your wisdom, you have a lot to share!

  6. Jeff says:


    I was thinking the same thing while I was reading this article. I think its fair to say that very valid points are made, but as a comedian, I would rather trade the exposure for doing my own shows anyday. By traveling and working a large area of the U.S. just as you said, the opportunities are endless. Therefore it makes sense to get booked, sure the pay isn’t what you get from Comedy Central, but you can’t get to Comedy Central by booking your own shows, and thus without exposure, how are you ever going to to booked on Comedy Central. I thought the points made regarding generating revenue were valid as well, but in all reality, lets say you book me for 4 nights to feature at 175 a night, and as a feature I do 30 minutes, that comes to about 350 an hour, not to mention the priceless exposure. So the value of getting on the road and doing gigs, even if they do not pay that much, is far more valuable to your career than sitting at home in your local community spending hours upon hours trying to draw an audience and put on a good show… You make an excellent point.

  7. Matt Ward says:

    This article is SPOT ON. Thanks for publishing it. Comedians simply DO NOT work hard enough to grow their fanbase.

  8. Josh when I read this article I laughed and I agreed with you instantly. I’ve been a professional comic and a comedy promoter and host for 4 years as of June 6th, 2011 which is just less than an hr and 15 minutes from now. I could not agree with you more! I also host a comedy class taught by Eddie Tafoya and I believe I will add a class on how to successfully host and sell your own comedy show because this would be a tremendous boost to the novice stand up comics. What never ceases to amaze me is the ignorance and arrogance of some people when they decide to begin to do stand up comedy. One gal who signed up for our comedy class had never done a single open mic and posted on her face page after enrolling “I am a professional comic anyone want to hire me?” Or maybe she wrote who wants to hire me and then I learned she did an open mic and approached the bar owner where I was going to be hosting a show telling him she was the funniest and he needed to book her. I am not trying to be funny she really did this and another gal who sings Karaoke at bars and enrolled in the class after class number two wrote on her facebook page that she is a professional singer/ stand-up comic. Doing this does not help them build their career although they may get a laugh from a booker like me when I read their boastful posts. This is not the kind of laugh a wanna be professional comic should be shooting for as they begin their career. It is like a little league baseball player saying “I am a professional baseball player!” It might be cute at first for the child to say that but it is delusional for them to believe this before their first little league game or even after. Maybe you can write an article about the subject of delivering more than you sell. These want to be comics try to sell a booker or a facebook reader on the idea that they are a professional comic but they can not possibly deliver. The one gall mentioned above who did not take our clas sby the way LOL she did an open mic I hosted after she had claimed to be a pro comic and opened and closed her 5 minutes set with a story of masterbating on the toilet with graphic acting as she sat on a chair and took us on a journey where we really did not want to go!
    It takes more to be a professional comic than just believing and telling a booker that you are a star! You have to build a base of fans and in my experience I love to book bringer shows where the open mic talent before the pro show can do 5 minutes only if they bring 4 or more paid guests to enjoy the show. Anyone who tries to tell me they are hilarious and can not bring 4 people to see a pro comedy show with an open mic starring them before the show is NOT a funny person! Funny people attract other people who want to be around them because they are funny and bring laughter!!!

  9. Cliff Yates says:

    Josh, great article. if you have any kind of following, you have to take care of your fanst, even if it’s only 25 of them. Why have them come to a club, and pay someone else to see you. And make them watch 25 others before they get to see you do 8 minutes. When you can buy out a samll club, room, or theatre for not that much money. Your friends pay you to see you, and hire your own opener, MC, Headliner, depending on where you are realistically. If your a middle, hire a good local headliner, do a versus deal, or door split with them. And be a great middle. When you put on a good show for your fans, 90 minutes, with an mc, middle and headliner, leaving them wanting more, they will leave your show, happy and asking, when is the next show, we want to come. You build a loyal following, when you make them sit through 3 hours of amateur hour to see you, you burn them out, and they are not so anxious to do that again. Spread your shows out. so you keep your audience interested. If you space your productions out, you have new material, and your fans are always anxious for the next show.

  10. The Blue NuN says:

    As a stand- up Comedian, some guy asked: “Do you always tell your jokes in a a crowd of strangers in the public menu? Yes I do! IT HELPS ME GET FEED BACK ON MY MATERIAL & WHAT IS A AUDIENCE BUT A BUNCH OF PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW. I’m always promoting myself, & I also promote any open mics I’ve been performing. THANKS 4 A GREAT ARTICLE INFORMATION.

  11. Great Article…alot of insight, I dont agree with all that was said. Yet, I respect your views.

  12. Tom Foolry says:

    Great article! I’m not a comedian (although do BOOK a comedian occasionally), but I think that the general advice here can easily be applied in pretty much any industry, especially entertainment. The key is to connect with your audience, build a fan base, and don’t let it ever be about the money!

  13. Jeff says:

    Well said… Passion is what is the driving force here, not validation..

  14. Tim Cornett says:

    I have the tendency to do this, It’s a good lesson…empowering in a way

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