Photo by Jeff ScottSo, between a bunch of recent Google searches that led people to my site, questions at The Comedy Store Tumblr, and questions I get asked on a weekly basis at open mic, everyone wants to know "How do I become a Paid Regular at the Comedy Store?"
First off, read this concise explanation.
Now, let it sink in that that process is going to take anywhere from 3-10 years.
So what can you do now, if you're just a couple of years in or just barely starting out? Well, I'll tell you. The Comedy Store is not just a business or the finest showcase of comedic talent in the universe, it's also a family and an artist colony. So it's not a neat, orderly process where you're gonna get progress reports and gold stars to let you know you're doing well. Generally speaking I adopt a "The first rule about Fight Club.." stance on talking about the inner workings of the Store, but I'm not revealing secret shortcuts to you - you have to put in the work. I'm just telling you how to not shoot yourself in the foot along the way. So...
Sign up every Sunday and Monday
Did you get up this week? No, of course you didn't. There's more than 40 comedians who sign up each day for a measly 15 spots. It's not the same 40 comedians each time, either, so do the math. But people notice when you make that commitment and it goes a long way.
Watch the mic even if you aren't on the list
First off, especially if you stay until the spots in the teens, you'll understand that some realy funny people are still only at the open mic level there and maybe you'll be a little less bitter. Besides, it's just good karma. When you have to take the bullet and there are literally NO audience members, having 30 comedians in the back makes it a lot easier. You watch them, they'll watch you.
Don't speak unless spoken to
Yeah, I know you're really excited to talk to your hero Sam Tripoli or Ian Edwards, and you want to make an impression on the host and the employees. Do it onstage. Do you want to be the cool guy who gets a high five from the door guy after a good set or that annoying guy who keeps butting in on conversations between old friends and adds nothing of value? If you keep coming and staying every week, people will notice you and they'll befriend you.
Thank Tommy for the spot
Sure, it's a random lottery, but in a larger sense, Talent Coordinator Tommy Morris allowed you that time on this very special stage. Show your gratitude & he might even lay some great feedback on you.
Stop treating it like an Open Mic
Bring a tight 3 minutes. This is not the time to stumble around half-baked premises with no punchlines. Think of it as an audition, not an open mic.
Don't worry if Tommy's in the room.
The host and the employees are watching. If you rock it, the word will get back to him... unless of course you're that dick who keeps butting in to everyone's conversations and generally annoying everyone so no one even wanted to stay in the room while you went up.
Tip your waitress or bartender
Not only are most employees also comedians, but like I said, they get word around about you. If you order 7 waters and don't so much as tip a dollar, they probably won't be paying much attention to that killer set of yours and then you're just a tree falling in an empty forest.
Don't get discouraged
I know it's daunting - you go, you sign up, you don't make the list. Or you make the list and there's no instant gratification, even after the best set of your life. Stay the course. Keep doing it, you'll get noticed and one fine day you'll get on the Friends & Family list.