The “Bringer” Show: What to Expect When Building Your Comedy Career

Now that we have covered the Open Mic, the “don’t just go do it” rule no longer applies.  After you have done a few Open Mics, you should have some jokes under your belt that are effective, and you should have made contact with at least one producer who does a “bringer” show.  It’s time to take your material, get on stage, and “just do it”.

A “bringer” show, in its simplest terms, is a show where comics get friends and family to buy admission and drinks at a comedy club, so that comics can put on a show in front of a full audience and get stage time. A producer usually organizes these shows in a legit comedy club, and it is the next logical step in your comedy career.

A producer could be a club manager, comic, or simply a businessman who loves comedy, who arranges for the club, does some promotion, and schedules 7-10 comics who will also be bringing audience members to fill the seats. If you have 3-5 friends willing to pay a cover charge and buy two drinks, you will get an average of 7 minutes on stage to tell your best jokes.

A good producer will have a videographer on hand who will generally charge a small fee to record you and email you the video of your set. If you have a particularly good night and get a lot of laughs, this video will be good for your Facebook page or, later on, your press kit to get booked at other clubs.

How do you get booked for a bringer show?

Most likely, a producer has approached you after an open mic, because he/she thinks you’re funny enough to do one of his bringer shows. He will sign you up for a weeknight show at one of the established comedy clubs in Manhattan, and tell you the bringer requirement. The lowest requirement I’ve ever seen at a weeknight at a good club is three (3) people, and the lowest admission price for the bringers is $10 and a two-drink minimum.

Since this is your first “show” in comedy, let me warn you: the day of your show, friends and family will most likely cancel. Make sure you overbook the amount of confirmed bringers you have so you definitely meet the minimum requirement.

The one negative with bringer shows, is if your bringers don’t show up, there’s a chance you won’t be able to make it on stage or your time will be drastically reduced.  It’s simply not fair to the other comics for the producer to play favorites and let you slide with the bringer requirement.

When you’ve arrived at the club for your show, and the producer tells you that people have paid admission to come see you, you will be given a spot in the lineup. It is important that your guests tell the ticket seller they’ve come to see you; this way, the producer will know how many people you’ve brought.

The MC for the night will generally talk to you before he introduces you for your spot, tell you how many minutes of stage time you’ll receive, and tell you where he/she will be in the crowd to give you the “light” (or signal) that you have one minute left.

If you’ve read previous blogs about the open mic, you will notice that this structure is very similar. However, instead of telling jokes to a bunch of other comics, you will be telling jokes to a group of paying customers.

The two golden rules of bringer shows are as follows:

  1. Don’t practice new material on a live audience. Tell the jokes that have gotten giggles at open mics or you know really work. If you run out of things to say, hand the mic back to the MC. The friends and family who came to see you would rather remember a short, successful set, then one where you start bombing at the end. This is also important when your set is being recorded.
  2. Always stay in contact with the producer. If your bringers start flaking out the day of the show, call your producer and tell him/her what’s going on. Don’t avoid the producer and show up to the show without an audience, and don’t ever no-show. It is professional to keep the producer aware of your status, and if you’re honest, it will be appreciated.

In future articles, we’ll discuss other topics and elements of bringer shows, how to translate bringer shows into paying gigs, and how to avoid bombing.

Author Brian Roth has performed at Gotham Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, Stand Up NY Comedy Club, New York Comedy Club, the People’s Improv Theater (PIT) and other clubs in NYC. He hosts the #Rothcast on BlogTalkRadio. 

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