A lot of newer comics have asked me in the past how to get into certain rooms. Aside from calling, and following some of my booking suggestions, sending out an email is a common way to start dialogue. Below is a sample email that I send out to a new club I have not been booked at. I typically have a moderate-to-high success rate with this. This may be different for everyone, but I find that this email includes everything a booker would need to know and doesn’t give them an afternoon worth of reading. In addition, it provides just the right personal touch that it doesn’t give off the copy/paste feel.
***Finding out a booker’s email for a club you have never worked can be difficult. Ask around, look on their website, check their facebook, or just send to the general email of the club and hope they forward it.
1. I find I get the most response from just putting the name of the club in the email subject. Putting a title like “work” “feature available” or “please hire me I’m broke” can often be just deleted without reading them. Keep it simple and keep them guessing so they open it.
2. Don’t just say “Hello…” Use a proper greeting based on time of day so they know that you took the time out to type the email when you sent it. Also, use their name. Always use their name. If you don’t know their name, why should they take the time out to learn yours? Be familiar with the club and the booker first, it shows initiative to work there.
3. It helps to have a recommendation that frequents the club. If you don’t have one, just delete this line. Also, make sure that the recommendation knows that you are using them and is cool with it. Don’t piss a comic off and the club at the same time by throwing out a name of someone that doesn’t know you.
4. Put what kind of work you are qualified for here (Guest/Host/Feature/Headliner). Don’t sell yourself higher than what you are ready for. If you can headline off nights but feel more comfortable featuring then you might mention that here to be considered for a full weekend.
5. Comedy Club name goes here. Mention the club in the email so it shows you are directly contacting that specific club and interested mainly in that club.
6 and 7. Define your style. Please don’t be generic here and say Louis CK and relationship humor. Every comic under the sun describes themselves as Carlin in his prime but in actuality more of a Sandler in Jack and Jill. Also, don’t make this a book. No one reads your bio online, not even you. When was the last time you updated it? Are you really the same comic you wrote you were 10 years ago? Be brief and be original.
8. TV appearances, festival wins, major opening gigs, and anything else of national notoriety. Biggest credit goes first. If you don’t have credits, don’t sweat it. Just leave them out. You don’t need credits to host or feature, but as a headliner you should probably have something under your belt.
9. Big clubs listed here. Bookers know one another so don’t say you frequent the Improv when you did a guest spot for a hypnosis show. List 3 or so clubs you have been at and if you have any personal comic references (Pro comics) feel free to list them as long as they know, no matter how many times you have worked with them. I put Nick DiPaolo down as a reference after working three weeks with him and talking to him every day, and when he was asked about me by name had no clue who I was. Turns out the guy sucks with names, and I likely suck with memorable jokes. Regardless, make sure that base is covered before putting a name down.
10. If you are going to be in the area, say so. More bookers cater to people who will be in town already. I won’t say lie here to get the gig and say you will be in the area when you really won’t, but I won’t tell you not to lie either.
11. Put your avails here for about 4-6 months out. If you are just starting off, don’t list that you have absolutely nothing for the next 6 months. Give them options and make yourself seem more important than you really are. IMPORTANT: Research the club ahead of time and see when they book shows. Telling a club you are available Wednesday thru Sunday when they only book Fri and Sat will show you know nothing about the club. I sent out a list of avails to a once a month club and none of my avails lined up with any of their shows. The booker called me out and I learned my lesson.
12. A nice exit greeting showing that you have initiative and providing a call to action is a good way to close any business email, and yes, comedy is a business.
13. Phone number goes first. Most bookers prefer phone because it is quick and simple. However, if they book you I would try and get something in writing as to what was agreed upon over the phone. You would be surprised how often clubs “forget” that they were supposed to pay you $50 to host and slip you $20.
14. Have a website. Keep it updated and try to make it look professional. My site gets lots of traffic not only from people that have seen and are coming to shows, but also from bookers. I have booked several gigs just by having a nice site and providing lots of content for bookers to look at to make a decision. Links to buy tickets to your shows on your site help as well as it is another way for clubs to make money.
15. Link to your video here. Keep it short, 3-6 minutes and not a best of clip. Beginning to end, uncut and preferably with laughs. YOU MUST HAVE THIS. Every club will ask for one. They will not book you based on your twitter feed, they have to see you work.
16. If you have any extra profiles from comedy sites you can put one or two here. Rooftop comedy is popular because it has clips from various clubs you have worked and the short clips are great for viewing the topics you cover so someone can get a sense of your style.
17. Upload a headshot and send it. Make sure it is high quality because if you are booked it could be used for promotion. Make it a professional headshot or at least a clear photo of you.
I am sure you all have your own style for writing to bookers, calling them or even just showing up at the clubs and begging for gigs. I am not a seasoned 20 year veteran of comedy, but figured I would just put this out there as a place to start for new comedians interested in bookings. Feel free to add input below.