Too often comedians who don’t put any effort into the marketing or business side of their career justify their inactivity by convincing themselves that successful artists pay no attention to business matters and that their comedy idols would never worry about such things.
However, that’s just not true.
In almost all cases, comedians who have successful careers have also paid attention to the business side of their career – even if they did so in a way that may not have necessarily been public knowledge.
A perfect example of this is the following letter I just discovered on Mitch Hedberg’s website. It’s a handwritten note that Mitch wrote to the Uniball pen company in an attempt to solicit a sponsorship for his tour. Sure, it’s an amusing letter, but it also shows Mitch wasn’t afraid to try to create business opportunities to support his art.
11 thoughts on “Mitch Hedberg’s Letter To Uniball In An Attempt To Get Them To Sponsor His Tour”
wow. it’s great to see a comedian of Mitch’s caliber soliciting for sponsorship. Sometimes I forget that the grind must continue and never ends. Thx for publishing this.
This is great and all….but….
It didn’t work. As far as I know, Uniball never sponsored Hedberg.
I had a sponsor, briefly, for a string of shows. It’s very difficult to get one, and it often involves taking meetings with a ton of lower-level guys over and over again. Come prepared with stats. You’ll have to show them you’re in front of X amount of people every year. That TV appearance you did last year? Doesn’t matter because they aren’t in it. Nor will they ever be. They’ll want to know who you’re in front of and when and how often.
And you’ll likely have to do a LOT of pimping for them. An energy drink sponsored me for a string of shows. I had to wear their shirts onstage, drink the product and even have info available after the show about the product. If they could have put their logo on my merchandise, they would have. And in the end, it wasn’t that lucrative.
It wasn’t BAD, mind you. And I’d love another sponsor. But it’s a serious sales pitch to get one. Just sayin’.
Don’t crap on this. Comedy doesn’t work for most that try, but you’re still doing it. Just because this letter didn’t work for Mitch doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot. And who cares about the work involved? Isn’t that a part of comedy?
Would you ever look at someone and say, “First, you have to go to a bunch of low level open mic shows. You have to promote the shows. You have to bring friends to even get stage time. They don’t pay you, and sometimes you have to buy the two drink minimum. Most of the shows you do are in front of crowds you can count on your fingers. It might take years to get your first paid opening spot, and it isn’t very lucrative.”
I doubt you would, so stop shitting on this.
First of all, drop the condescending tone and pay attention. I wasn’t “shitting” on anything It’s called having a discussion. It happens from time to time. I used my personal experience with sponsorship to let people know it’s more than about writing a letter. And it is. That’s called reality. Not “Shitting on something”. Welcome to the real world.
Getting a sponsor is HARD. That was my point. It is NOT about writing a letter and getting one. The email promoting this article said “Find out how Mitch Hedberg Got Sponsors”. But HE DIDN’T. Did he write a cool letter? Yes. But he didn’t get a sponsor. And this isn’t how you get one. You want me to “not shit on” a letter about sponsorship that didn’t actually get sponsorship in an article that is all about getting sponsorship? Um. Okay.
Yes, this was a neat, funny letter. But, at the end of the day, it didn’t work. Hedberg was never sponsored by Uniball, now was he? Sorry to bring reality into your back-patting and wanting to feel sunshiney about the intricacies of the business world. Sponsorship has way less to do with the world of stand-up comedy than you think it does. It’s about business FIRST, comedy SECOND when it comes to getting one.
Telling people be realistic isn’t the same thing as telling people not to try. A mature adult can easily see the difference.
Oh, and you’re totally wrong, by the way.
I ABSOLUTELY tell people everything you just said. I tell newcomers all the time that the money sucks at first, that the touring is exhausting, that it’s hard to get work and involves paying your dues and working your way up. That they’ll have to do a lot of open-mics before they ever see a dime. That, after they see a dime, the money doesn’t come flowing in like they think it does. That there’s a lot that goes into “moving up the ladder” other than just being funny. That it’s a business and a lot of times it’s about business more than comedy. Because it is.
Anyone in this business more than a year knows as much.
It’s called being honest.
—Would you ever look at someone and say, “First, you have to go to a bunch of low level open mic shows. You have to promote the shows. You have to bring friends to even get stage time. They don’t pay you, and sometimes you have to buy the two drink minimum. Most of the shows you do are in front of crowds you can count on your fingers. It might take years to get your first paid opening spot, and it isn’t very lucrative.”—-
I’m printing this out and having it handed out at open mics all over the country. Kudos. At last, we can give people an honest answer.
I was and still am a huge Mitch Hedberg fan, Saw him “live” @ the Improv comedy club before his passing. While sponsership is great if you can get it (It’s usually quite hard) I have to agree with Wardrick. The sponsers are putting all thier time and huge amounts of money into your show which means they want to dictate all that goes on before, during and after every performance. (Even though they have no clue about writing or performing Stand-up) Plus, they want to slap thier logo onto everything you sell and usually ask a percentage of each item sold. So what’s a comic to do? Go after sponsers who are fans of your comedy! Invite the CEO’s or Vice Presidents or even thier secratary’s to come see you. Find someone who knows someone within the company. Most of us know family or friends who work for corporate America. Heck a lot of us have performed for them so might as well hit em up after your set. Pepole like to work with people they like, know and trust. Also a tie in to the show is the best way to go. I’m contacting “Mr. Clean” as I;ve just launched the “Clean Comedy Allstars” Comedy tour. With myself, Jimmy Burns and Mark Christopher Lawrence from NBC’s “Chuck” who also brings credability to the show ny being on TV right now every week. Do the work, seek out the right company and assure them you can, have and will put butts in the seats and the sponsors will follow. Keep Laughing!
And I agree.
I have to agree, you can’t get what you don’t go after. I have a couple of sponsors and fortunately, all I have to do is list them on my web site, but it was not easy getting them. Having sponsorship is a great way to be able to do this thing that we love “COMEDY”.
I am actually working on getting sponsorship to put on my truck since I drive it over 50,000 miles a year to gigs. You have to be creative and know you facts, until you get that consistant string of gigs that keep you living good and eating well.
And you just said it right there: 50,000 miles.
The best bet a comedian has at getting a sponsor is showing that you’re going to be getting plenty of exposure. Plenty of work. Plenty of shows.
If you’re barely featuring, good luck. It MIGHT happen, perhaps on a smaller scale, yeah. But a major sponsor (one that will cover serious expenses or pay you) will want to know that you’re REALLY out there. Touring a lot, going to many different places. Getting a lot of exposure.
Have a calendar you can show them. Have the numbers ready for them. Have proof that you’re working your ass off to be seen and promote yourself.
I meet comics all the time who still don’t even have a website. And, those who do, have awful ones that are never updated or worked on. If you don’t put any real effort into yourself, a sponsor isn’t going to, either. Do all of that FIRST, and then worry about the sponsor.
BTW – Congrats on the work and the sponsor, Longhorn.
This was great, Ive had good luck on individual shows. I used a template from a book about prmoting concerts. When I’m doing a charity show, I send out sponsorship letters, explaining the amount of people, the demographics, and buy purchasing sending in their check for 250.00, they get a table of 10 reserved in their name, and a mention from the stage. I include a self addressed stamped envelope, and checks come in. This article has given me some ideas about sponsors. Since I do alot of cop shows, maybe I reach out to Tazer, and pepper spray companies. Maybe I will do a promotional video of me tazing and pepper spraying some hecklers.