Comedy Industry: Help Wanted

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Posted: September 4, 2014, 3:37 p.m.
by Michelle Sue Agee.

Comedy is an industry that reflects a genre. As an industry, there aren’t many opportunities to share ideas, strategies and success among conservatories and venues, educators and performers. Though performance-based workshops are relatively available, there aren’t regional conferences to connect industry players together.

New conservatories, young venues and local comedy hubs may struggle to find new audiences and comedy students, and to keep them coming back. They must provide great shows and a quality experience. Likewise, performers must battle the audience’s high expectation of comedy due to perfect examples via standup specials, sketch television shows, films, radio and successful YouTube series. And each venue should grow its regional and online presence to fill seats every night.

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Bad Example performing at The New Movement, Austin, TX (photo via facebook.com/TNMATX)

The comedy industry is disadvantaged by the lack of education or support for those who are creating and maintaining local comedy hubs, those who are passionate about teaching comedy, and their potential students. Conservatories and venues often struggle to maintain a positive public image and a full house, while aspiring professionals contend for a following.

Like any art or entertainment style, comedy is not profitable until you are recognized as talented by someone with money and power. The majority of those involved with the local comedy scene — including improvisers, writers, actors, filmmakers, producers, educators, directors — have financially stable, full-time jobs. Also, don’t forget that staff who run conservatories are most likely learning how to run a small business, many times through trial and error.

A full-scale conference with a variety of workshops, such as business education, professional development and performance workshops, would be lucrative for the betterment of the comedy industry. However, these events must be low on cost and have a high ROI. If there are any advantageous conference planners out there, comedy needs you!

Even providing an online platform with reliable community managers (or roundtables during a conference, hint) for venue and conservatory owners to share information about managing a volunteer staff, implementing public relations and marketing strategies on a budget, as well as creating a hospitable environment including space design, would help young venues to run a more efficient business and have more of a stake in the local cultural flavor. Cities would also benefit, as this type of event will enable more people to go out and spend money at restaurants, bars and transportation centers.

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