Comedy Club Bringer Shows – Good, Bad, And Ugly

One of the first things that new comedians run into when they are trying to get comedy club open mic stage time is what is known as a bringer show.

A comedy club bringer show is a show that in order for a new comedian to get open mic stage time, they have to bring a certain number of friends to the show.

Usually the “bringer bounty” to get stage time is 3-5 people as a prerequisite for getting 3-5 minutes of stage time as a new comedian.

This is good for the comedy club because they are able to get butts in the seats and sell food and drinks for a show that is essentially not otherwise marketable. What do I mean by that?

If you have ever been to a comedy club open mic, you will immediately notice that most of the new comedians are simply awful — they either have no talent or they do have talent but are largely unprepared to use that talent when they hit the stage.

Bringer shows can also be marketed as comedy competitions in which the comedian who gets the biggest applause wins the competition.

Now here’s where it can get kind of ugly if a new comedian doesn’t understand the dynamics of a bringer show comedy competition…

The comedian who is going to win a bringer show comedy competition will be the comedian who brings the most people (and thus will get the most applause for their performance when asked) — it will not usually be determined by talent or the laughs generated by the comedian.

Take Killer Stand-up comedian Mylo Smith for example. In July 2010 he slayed the audience at the HaHa Café in Los Angeles at a bringer show comedy competition. His PAR Score was 46 (an average of 27.6 seconds of laughter per performing minute).

As far as laughter generation goes, Mylo smoked the other contestants in the comedy competition.

But he came in 3rd place because…

Two other contestants brought more people — way more people. And since bringer show comedy competitions usually determine the winner by applause at the end of the show, not based on their ability to generate laughs…

Well, let me say that I have seen some awful comedians “win” these sorts of events.

For comedians who can only work in the comedy club market, whether it’s because of choice and/or they can only produce comedy club material that is not suitable for any other comedy market…

Bringer shows are going to be a part of the process of getting started as a comedian. Better start rounding up a boatload of friends if you are going to expect to get stage time at a comedy club open mic.

And the longer a comedian sucks on stage…

The longer they are going to have to bring friends in order to get stage time (which usually happens until a comedian has proven they can consistently get laughs and has actually been hired for paid work).

Stage time is a very valuable and precious commodity for any comedians, especially those who are just starting out.

However, I should also mention that simply racking up performances doesn’t do much good if the comedian can’t get the laughs they need to progress as a comedian.

For most new comedians, stage time in the beginning is largely a trial and error activity when it doesn’t have to be that way at all.

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7 Replies to “Comedy Club Bringer Shows – Good, Bad, And Ugly”

  1. Bringer shows are a waste of time!!! Most people are there because they are supporting their friends, the comedian. Unless you have a lot of friends or have a lot of homeless bums close to where you live you are wasting your time.

    • I disagree that bringer shows are “a waste of time” (although I do agree with Shane Michael’s suggestion (below) that bringer shows can potentially be limiting the audience and thereby narrowing the comedian’s focus). ANY opportunity one has to perform his/her material should be welcomed and used to advantage, whether it’s to further hone your bits, to continue developing performer-audience rapport, or simply to try new bits. I believe that, if you have e right mindset and enthusiasm (“”hunger”), even coffee with a couple friends or co-workers can be a “performance.” 🙂

  2. The advantage of being able to guarentee five people will show up to see you at any show is that you can really play anywhere you want. However, most people who try to become a draw limit themselves to reaching out to friends, family and coworkers. I know comics who have performed for ten years without ever reaching out to a stranger to try to win over a new fan. I think the bigger problem is these bringer shows have caused many comics to stop trying to build a fan base, because the associate bringing people with “bringer shows.” That’s actually a common reaction to asking someone to build a fan base in LA, I don’t do bringer rooms. As a result I also know comics with business cards, no mailing list and no calendar of upcoming shows. This makes it almost impossible for anyone to follow your career, even if they sincerely wanted to.

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