People who pay attention to these kinds of things (which, I think, is mostly just me) have probably noticed some changes around The Comedy Store over the past six months. Most of them have been under the hood, but they've made a couple of pretty big changes in the weeks since Labor Day. Namely, adding two new Store shows to the weekly schedule.
To back up, The Comedy Store has three rooms - The Original Room, The Main Room and The Belly Room. There are shows in all of these rooms every night, sometimes two. Most of these shows are outside-produced shows, meaning that a promoter has basically rented the room to put on whatever show he or she wants. Some of these shows are pretty good, most of them are not. Most of them are "bringers"
I've got a lot of problems with bringers. The relevant issue I take with bringers in this context is is two-fold. One, most audience members aren't going to take the time to grasp the subtlety that this show is AT this venue, but it isn't PRODUCED by this venue. So, while it's a good deal for the venue's bottom line in the short term, it's not engendering a loyal repeat audience and hurts the bottom line in the long run. Two, it cheapens the accomplishments of the real comedians who work there. When every open miker in town can say "I headlined the Main Room" it definitely detracts from the hard work someone like Bobby Lee did to earn the right to step on that stage.
Okay, back to the point, this week, The Comedy Store reclaimed The Main Room on Fridays. Copying the Saturday night format, there's an early show in there at 9 pm and a 10:30 show in the Original Room.
I like this for so many reasons, I told the managers I wanted to kiss them both. It's more stage time for the Paid Regulars and will help improve both the reputation and the piggy bank at The Store. I've been arguing for a couple of years that the place has to turn people away on Fridays (especially in the summer months) and there should be a second show so as to not lose those customers. I'd actually argued for a different setup, a Store-run show in the smaller Belly Room that mixed in the younger unpaid regulars & employees with the usual Headliners, which, coincidentally, they've finally started doing on a monthly basis (Follow @NotSoPaid for dates)
I was actually surprised to hear a little push back from some comedians. A few of them lamented swapping an OR spot where they can do more work on new things for the showy Main Room spot that requires a polished road set style. Others argued that the continuous show format that allows people to arrive and leave at any time from 9 pm until 2 am means the same 230 people who were spread around both rooms would have had seats in the OR over the course of the night, anyway. Still others argued it was more spots, but for the same comedians who get all the spots anyway.
But last night was a good start. Considering most employees and even I wasn't aware of the change until about 5 hours beforehand, the turnout was pretty good. The Main Room had more people than would have fit in the Original Room and the OR was a little anemic, but still pretty decent considering it was basically not publicized whatsoever.
The other big change, which I don't like, is the replacement of Sunday night Potluck with a standard Original Room headliner show. This severely cuts down on work-out and development spots at a club whose main differntiator is that it's the only club in town with an actual comedic development system (some also argue it's main differntiator is "being evil", but that's another story). We'll see how that shakes out in the coming months, but I'm pretty much willing to forgive that if this Friday night thing sticks.