How many credits do you have?
The law of supply and demand is everywhere, especially in comedy.
Published in Oct 2019 | Free Standup NYC
Article by: Andrew Bayroff
When a comic finally gets a solid credit, a mysterious event occurs: they’ve now garnered the attention of clubs and bookers. Sometimes it's the same club that wouldn’t even give them an audition or relegated them to check spots or late nights. Yet all of a sudden is offering hosting or regularly paid spots on their shows. What happened? Did the club have a change of heart? No, the comic now has a credit that the club can sell to the audience.
Let's imagine you're the comic in question. Did you get any funnier? Nope. Are you just as funny as you were before? Yes, of course. But that newly minted two-color logo added to your comedy tackle box just made you that much more attractive, alluring, and above all, a marketable commodity. I’m not bad-mouthing credits, far from it. Credits are an amazing addition to your comedy resume. A milestone in your career. You add Kimmel, a book deal, or festival win to your CV, fly that flag as high as you can! But, it doesn’t make you funnier. It doesn’t make you any more proficient a comic than you were five minutes before you earned that new credit. What it does do is give shows and clubs a logo to add to their site and marque to woo comedy goers and their cash + 2 drinks. A pretty straight forward transaction.
I know what you're thinking, though, getting booked can’t just be about credits, can it? Well, it’s an important cog to be sure, but there’s another reason hiding in not so plain sight. One of the oldest economic laws of any industry—which comedy is certainly not immune—is the law of supply and demand. Let me explain:
There is a finite amount of spots to spread around to all of the eager mouths. There are 15 clubs between *Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, as well as over 200 bar-shows a month throughout those boroughs. I understand if we add in Long Island, Staten Island, and New Jersey, the following numbers would be much higher. For this exercise, the three boroughs I've chosen give a digestible cross-section.
Let's break this down and do some math, shall we? We'll choose one day out of the week, say, Thursday, for this lesson. And before we begin, please keep in mind, not unlike your new material, my math is not 100% sound, but you’ll get the idea.
Pencils at the ready!
Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens
15 clubs x 2 shows avg each club x 7 spots avg per show = 210 spots
10 shows x avg 7 spots per show = 70 spots
280 Spots on Thursday
Again, the math may be skewed a bit, but I think we can all agree even 250 spots for one night of the week is a decent estimation, and is a good amount of opportunities to perform. That’s unless you live in NYC. Three hundred spots may bode well in DC or Miami, or even Boston, but those cities are not as comically congested as NYC. The amount of spots is a mere fraction of the whole equation, though. The real number you need to pay attention to is the total number of active stand up comics in and around NYC. Again, for this experiment, let’s keep this to the above three boroughs.
An estimate of comics: Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens
You may be saying, “There’s no way there are 3000 comics…” or, “Man, there's so much more than 3000...” Even if I’m off by 500 plus or minus, that’s still a prominent number.
My point? While being hilarious on stage or being a brilliant host, having a killer credit can put you on a club's radar. Put it this way: If you're a booker, and had a narrow amount of spots available each day, week and month and needed to fill a room of 50, 100, or 200 seats, who would you book? The hilarious comic or a writer on Conan?
Trust me, it sucks, I know. For each local NYC headliner, there are at least 20+ comics that are ready for not only more stage time but placed into the regular rotation. Let's also not forget that in any eclectic area of the comedic map, you also have race, religion, height, weight, skin color, politics, friendship, favors, investing large sums of cash into a club, along with a whole host of other attributes clubs take into consideration. However, we'll leave those topics for another time.
Stand Up NY
New York Comedy Club - 4th st. and Midtown
West Side Comedy Club
Broadway Comedy Club
Creek and the Cave
Mark Anthony Ramirez
"There is a finite amount of spots to spread around to all of the eager mouths."