When I get booked on a cool show, I frequently get messages from comics asking, “hey, how’d you get on that?” or “Can you give me the booker info for that show?” I try to be helpful, but I thought it’d be useful to get the longer version so you can learn what the process is actually like. This is how I got booked on a particularly cool show in Los Angeles from start to finish.
Note: I’m leaving out “get good at standup comedy” which I also had to do simultaneously with a lot of this other stuff.
- Got into improv in high school.
- Did it through college.
- When I moved to Portland, I started taking classes here.
- Worked my way up through program here. Eventually promoted to the main-stage show.
- Met a guy who was on the main-stage show. He’s funny. We get along. He used to live in LA so I had coffee with him and chatted about LA.
- Went to an improviser party. Ran into a woman who I’d seen perform and admired but didn’t know well. Made conversation. She suggests I audition for a show she was writing.
- Auditioned. Did okay. Got that part.
- Rehearsed and performed in that show for 16 shows.
- After that show one night, talking to one of the producers at a bar. Mentioned another show idea I’d been work on. She offers to produce it.
- Write, direct, book, produce, market that show.
- One guest invites friend who runs her own show. She likes me, asks me to do her show some day. It is much bigger than my show.
- Appear on her show. It goes well. She asks me to be a guest writer.
- Go to the writer meetings. Write a bunch of stuff. That goes well.
- She asks me to be a regular writer. Agree.
- Write for that show for a while.
- One episode, a comic from LA is booked. He is old friends with my improv friend from earlier. Neat! After the show, they go to bar and ask if I want to tag along.
- Hang at that bar. Mostly listen. My friend tells LA comic I’m good at standup. LA comic tells me to email booker of his show. Write down info.
- Email his booker about upcoming LA trip. Sorry we’re full.
- Six months later, book another trip to LA. Ask again. Sorry full.
- Wait a while. Pick a date three months in future. Email booker saying I’m going to be down again, this time for two weeks. Is there a spot either week? Yes on one. Booked.
- Plan trip around that show.
- Did the show.
- Got the messages asking who books it.
That’s it! That’s all you gotta do to get on a show like that.
The answer to most questions in comedy is a combination of writing, hustle, and getting super lucky. So if you’ve got a free minute, I highly recommend working on those three things.