Funny business - Comedy club ticketing software
After a decade in decline, live comedy is making a comeback at bars and nightclubs. Patrons bored with endless karaoke nights find that live comedy has an "everything-old-is-new-again" appeal and are voting with their wallets. This post looks at venues that have started booking comedy again and what venue owners should look for when choosing comedy club ticketing software.
"Can we be funny?"
During his opening monologue as host of Saturday Night Live, mayor Rudy Giuliani assured the people of New York that enough time had passed after the 9/11 tragedy to laugh again. Producer Lorne Michaels then asked the mayor; "Can we be funny?" Giuliani sarcastically responded...
"Why start now?" implying the show had never been funny before.
The same question Lorne Michaels asked of Giuliani 12 years ago is being asked again by many venue owners. It was not long ago that comedy bookings were in the midst of an attendance slump as the genre fell out of favor with patrons. However, the recent uptick in bookings indicate the funniest of the Performing Arts, stand-up comedy, is making a comeback.
For example, John Magsam says that back in the 1980s stand-up comedy was second only to live music in popularity. But a new form of entertainment was to take over.
By the 1990s the [comedy] craze began to fade after an eight month recession and a sluggish economic recovery that spawned the punch line of the 1992 presidential race: "It's the economy, stupid." Karaoke machines replaced comics in bars and less-successful comedy clubs closed...it took years of work by area comedians to rebuild a comedy scene from scratch in Northwest Arkansas and to bolster customer demand
As an example of the comeback, Magsam cites a local venue that is seeing the rewards from booking more comedy acts. The manager of the UARK Bowl told Magsam in an interview that comedy bookings have been a boost to the bottom line.
On Fridays, the UARK Bowl features professional stand-up comics at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Tickets generally cost $7, and the club offers drink specials and $2 beers. Comedy headliner Ralphie May recently sold out a midweek show - 400 tickets at $20 each.
Venue owners may not be aware that their patrons, bored with yet another karaoke night, find idea of going to see live comedy has an "everything-old-is-new-again" appeal. It may have also have gone unnoticed that the several big name comedians have returned to doing in-person performances, Jerry Seinfeld being the most notable.
"They're stirring interest and we're seeing comedy venues flare up again."
Live, Laugh, Love
In addition to boosting sales at the box office, comedy can also raise money for a good cause, which helps increase venue/patron affinity. Last week Erik Borg put the spotlight on the 'Live, Laugh, Love' show at the Machine nightclub in Boston.
The 'Live, Laugh, Love' series of benefits have raised money for charitable causes like children's cancer research, AIDS foundations and for individuals facing with challenges of multiple sclerosis. The the night of laughs served as a fundraiser for the Boston Living Center which helps the HIV-positive community. Borg writes about event organizer Jim Lauletta's reason for bringing comedy back to the Machine.
For Lauletta, a fixture of the Boston comedy scene, a night of comedy is the perfect pairing to benefit the organization with deeply personal ties. Lauletta said he hopes audiences come out to experience the magic of live comedy, which has begun to make a comeback again.
Good causes provide benefits to more than just the charities involved, the venue receives additional press coverage it may not have enjoyed without the booking. Additionally, the nature of the event brings the venue to the attention of those who may not associate it with comedy, increasing the potential of future ticket sales.
Traditional stand-up comedy isn't the only funny thing going on in Boston Massachusetts. The comedy play 'Bye Bye Liver' performs several nights a week at Hennessy's Pub Theater in Boston. 'Bye Bye Liver' is be best described by creator Byron Hatfield:
It is a sketch comedy show about drinking culture. It’s a play on how we use alcohol to influence our behavior at bars, whether it’s winning over romance or trying to get a laugh out of somebody.
The play has been a boom for local venues because the entire performance written to take place at in a bar, so there is no need for a "theatrical set". But even though the performance is set in a generic bar, the cast of 'Bye Bye Liver' tailor the play for each city.
'Bye Bye Liver' is currently running in Chicago, Boston, Milwaukee, Nashville, Philadelphia and St. Louis. Of note to venue owners, some locations where 'Bye Bye Liver' is being performed have never book a comedy act before. Hosting and selling tickets to a night of comedy has a very different set of requirements compared to a pedestrian karaoke night. 'Bye Bye Liver' makes full use of ThunderTix online ticketing software for all the cities in which it performs. The individual venues are well represented in the purchasing process shown to ticket buyers.
Venues considering tapping into the comedy comeback should review their current event ticketing software and make sure it supports features like reserved seating charts, nightly deposits and customized pre-sale events. ThunderTix offers all of those features plus we do not charge you per-ticket fees! If you want to sell tickets online, be sure to take a look at all the features we have to offer and sign up for a free trial today!