Red Flags When Choosing a Comedy Booking Agency
Don’t want all the headache of finding reputable and quality comedians each time for your event? You need a professional comedy booking agency that you can trust, one that will bring you high quality talent, be available when you need them, and operate with an openness and integrity you deserve.
When searching for a professional comedy booking agency for your comedy club, bar, hotel or casino, pay attention to these red flags:
Red Flag #1: Misleading information
There are many comedy booking agencies around claiming that they book “x” amount of rooms or that they have great routing all over your area.
What you need to do is to dig a little deeper, hold their claims up and see if anything substantial stands behind them.
First, find out more about the prospective agency.
How do you search for substance beneath their claims?
1) Ask for specifics:
What surrounding cities or areas do they have clubs or rooms in and what kind of rooms are these: one night rooms, or full-time comedy clubs? The difference will tell you the quality of acts you can expect to host in your venue.
2) Question further:
Get names, websites, and the owner or manager’s names of the rooms they book. Investigate these sources, call a few and ask them their experience with the booking agency.
Any sign of timidity, or putting-off is a sign of your future relationship, and also, a sign that there is nothing substantial behind their claims. If they can’t back up their claims, then they already started off their relationship with you on a lie.
Is that really someone you want to go into business with?
Red Flag #2: “Lowest Price… Guaranteed!”
In the comedy business, you truly do get what you pay for. If an agency claims or guarantees the lowest price, what they’re also guaranteeing you is the lowest quality of talent as well.
The lower an agency goes to “undercut” someone else’s price, the lower they are paying the comedian – which in turn means that comedians working well-paying gigs are going to turn down the offers to play your venue. You will most likely be ending up with open-mic or amateur quality performers who have very little performance experience.
Red Flag #3: One or No Hotel Rooms
If they regularly ask you for only one or no hotel rooms, they then caught themselves in their own lie. How can they provide you with Nationally Touring Professional Comedians if they’re all local or live close enough to drive home after the show? Professional talent works in a different location from week-to-week.
Providing a hotel room for BOTH comedians is important (and a business standard) in comedy due to their extensive travel. I can promise you that a happy, well-rested comedian will put on a MUCH better show than a tired comedian, whose distracted by his aching back from the night spent in the back seat of their car.
Red Flag #4: Booking Fee & Talent pay NOT separate from each other
When discussing how payment works, see if the booking fee is paid separately from the comedian’s pay. If you pay the entire amount to the booking agency, it is not only a lack of openness, but a serious red flag. This tells you that:
A) Something fishy is going on: They could be taking a bigger cut from your payment than the comedians, meaning you’re receiving lower end talent while they’re making more money.
Rather than giving you a higher-caliber act that will create POSITIVE buzz about your venue, they’re giving you lower-end talent (which will create negative buzz) so they can make an extra buck.
B) They’re not an efficient agency. The process is counter-intuitive. It creates more work for them to take the time to send out checks when instead the comedian is standing right next to you in your venue.
Red Flag #5: Lack of Communication
If you find yourself leaving multiple voicemails, e-mails, or text messages that are not responded to promptly, this could have disastrous implications!
A professional agency will provide you with their cell phone numbers so that you can reach them at anytime, especially during emergencies or when you need information now and not the next day. An after-hours emergency line shows that they care about their relationship with you, not just your money.
Remember, a comedy booking agency works for YOU. A professional agency would be eager to speak with you regularly to discuss promotional ideas, get feedback on acts, see how your attendance has been, or just to chat to get to know you better.
Red Flag #6: Big Names Acts for Cheap
If an agency claims they can get you a big name, well-known comedian for a baffling low price, you have good reason to be highly suspicious. Unfortunately, agencies still engage in underhanded and unethical tactics for their own benefit and at your expense.
A common and unfortunate tactic is to switch out your booked act at the last minute due to some unverifiable conflict. The big name act you were promised has instead been replaced by a comedian of significantly lower talent. The difference in pay between the two is significant. And sadly, these agencies will pocket the difference rather than being open and up front with you.
At Funny Business Agency we’re deeply committed to being a part of the comedy industry. Even if you don’t choose to use our services, we’d like to help you avoid the agencies that may hurt you in the future. Not only is it bad for you, it’s bad for the comedy industry.
Are there some other red flags that we’ve missed when choosing a comedy booking agency? Leave them in the comments below.