What is this????

Those are just some of the questions you'll ask yourself or maybe hear another comic ask. Bringer shows like the open mics mean different things to different people. I certainly am not an expert in the subject, but can give you a good idea what they are about and how to decide what is best for you.

What's a "bringer show"?

A "bringer show" is a show where you are required to bring a predetermined number of people to a comedy club, in exchange for you getting onstage. Usually there is an entrance fee and a drink minimum for your guests, but not always. A few days prior you would have spoken to a producer (someone that puts together shows in comedy clubs) and he will tell you the date and time of the show and how many people you are required to bring. If show time rolls around and you don't have your people there is a good chance you will not get onstage that night. But that also depends on your relationship with the producer and if you usually meet you minimum.

What is the need for "bringer shows"?

Well, it boils down to dollars and cents. To make it very plain comedy clubs usually don't pull in big audiences for comics that are not "A" list like they had in the past (this is not to say if you are not "A" list you are not talented. Quite the opposite. I've seen some extremely funny people that can perform as well as the best of them) If you own a comedy club you may be committed to comedy, but you are a businessman first. If you are not getting the "asses in the seats" you cannot stay in business. You have to remember Manhattan is in the top three highest real estate markets in the entire world. That translates into huge rents, taxes, insurance and so on (you get the picture). Now here is where it gets murky, someone came up with the idea of filling up clubs by having the comics bring a certain amount of people with them, and presto, "instant ass in the seat". This kept the people running the club happy ('cause they are making money) and the comic is kind of happy because he gets to perform, but has to bring his/her own audience members. See, its a "win/kind of win" situation.

The pros and cons

So you just booked your first bringer. You have your parents, aunt Sofie and Uncle Jim (who you had to warn not to heckle, because he gets loud when he drinks). You feel nervous, but excited. You are doing your first bringer. it's kind of like your first kiss.You get up do five minutes and you have killed. "Damn, these bringers are great. I don't know why people bitch about them. My whole family had a great time. They are going to be psyched when I tell them we are going to do it again, since they liked it so much!" What you just read is good and it's bad. We'll start with the good. You just got stage time (good), your family saw you perform and cheered you on (good/bad) and the guy that booked you is happy because you came through and now he's your friend (good, you now have a connection at that club).

Now for the bad. Your family cheered wildly, but they also cheered wildly, when at your 5th grade school Christmas show you sang a solo rendition of "I'm a little teapot". So were you good or does your family love and support you, or both? It went so well you want to do it again! Your family may have other ideas. After all, how many times are they going to hear the same material, and pay a cover with a drink minimum to boot? You may be grateful for finding comedy, but your friends and family are grateful for caller ID. You will probably talk to their answering machines a little more often, while they hope this "comedy phase" passes, just like when you decided you would become a guitar player and would play it at every family gathering, until a "burglar" broke into your house and curiously stole only the guitar (Hmm...). Oh well, there goes your sold out stadium tour.

Do I have to do them?

That is entirely up to you. I would say they have their benefits, but don't do a bringer every couple of months and not work in between. You will be surprised how rusty you will get and possibly embarrass yourself.

What if I book one but my people don't show?

You will probably never be able to work that club again (just kidding!). It's not the end of the world. You won't be the first and you won't be the last to have this happen. When the audience pays to get into the club the greeter will have a list of all the performers that have to bring a certain amount of people. They keep track of what comic the audience members are there to see. They will know as soon as you do. They are usually understanding (although you still can't perform) but I would say if you feel you can't get your people down there, don't commit to the show. Your word is the only thing you have don't lose it because you promised something you knew you could not deliver. And this ties directly into the subject of doing open mics. If you only do the bringers every couple of months and no other work in between you are not going to be any better than the last performance and probably worse.. And let's say for arguments sake your act has stayed the same. Who is going to pay see you perform the same material in the same manner? You have to understand you are asking people to pay money for a service, and that service is you entertaining them with your five minutes of material. If you have not worked on it guess what? You have not held up your end of the bargain. Your people have paid for it, but you're not giving it. So keep working and getting that stage time.

Which are best?

Most clubs have bringers and the requirements vary. You should ask around and get feedback from other comics that have done them. In the near future there will be a listing here of bringer shows and their requirements

I hope I have answered some of your questions on this subject. If there is something I did not cover you can email me. Thanks!

Eric's Dog
Bringer Shows
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