Attempting to start open-mic night in Bristol

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Hopey
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Hi, it appears that there is not one open-mic comedy night in Bristol (or the surrounding area, I believe Cardiff is the closest). So instead of complaining about this I think it would be a good idea to try and start one. It's a big place so it shouldn't be too hard to attract a decent number of people.

However, I've never done anything like this at all so I may need help with:

letting enough people know about its existence;
choosing a venue;
deciding how to actually run the thing.

Anyone have any ideas/live in Bristol and be interested in taking part?

Thanks
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DonnaG
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I'd be interested if there were an open mic night in Bristol.
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DonnaG
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Hopey- I've been on http://www.openmicfinder.co.uk and found a few bars in Bristol that specify that they do open mic stand up nights. Some of the info is a bit old so I have emailed a few of the bars asking them if they still offer them. I will let you know if I come up with anything.
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Tony Cowards
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A few quick bits of advice;

1. Find a supportive venue, one which will allow you to put up posters and flyers around the place, if they'll help you sell tickets so much the better.

2. Put the gig on in a separate room, not the main part of the pub and restrict entrance to people who specifically want to watch the comedy.

3. Charge an entrance fee, even if it's a nominal amount (£2 or £3), this does two things, firstly it gives you a budget to pay a headline act who'll hopefully entice people to stay until the end of the show and secondly, if the audience have actually invested in the night they are more likely to stay AND behave themselves a bit better.

4. Make sure you have a decent PA. The audience need to be able to hear the comedians clearly. You can be the best stand up in the world but if they can't hear you they won't laugh.

5. Make sure the lighting is okay. A lot of stand up comedy is visual, a comic's facial movements or body language can make a big difference to the experience, the audience need to be able to see this. Also make sure the stage is well lit but the audience are in relative darkness, audiences relax more if they are hidden slightly in the shadows, nothing kills laughter more than bright light on the audience.

6. Advertise as much as possible, it is impossible to promote a gig too much, acts are easy to find, audience members are not.

7. Try to get a decent compere. An experienced compere can make all the difference to a comedy night, an inexperienced MC with a procession of inexperienced open spots is a recipe for disaster. A really good MC can hold the night together even if the other acts are bombing.

8. Try to be discerning with your booking. I know that this might be anathema to the ethos of an open mic night but try to balance giving everyone a chance with maintaining the quality of the night, after all you need to entertain an audience and try to ensure that they come back again.

9. Don't allow the night to drag on, try to be quite harsh with timings, if people are doing a 5-7 minute spot make sure they know that at 6 mins they should be preparing to get off stage no matter how much they are enjoying it. Have a system where you can flash/wave a light (red bike lights work well for this) when acts should be wrapping up. Audiences get fidgety and need to get home, you might not have work the next day or babysitters to get back to but the audience probably do.

10. Have several intervals. This allows the audience to stay refreshed and means that they won't be coming and going too much during the acts. try to keep sections of the show to 40-45mins, any longer than that and you'll have people getting up to go to the toilet or the bar.

Anyway, that's a few pointers, if you need any more advice or tips feel free to get in touch... oh and if you need an experienced MC or decent closing act I'm based in Wiltshire and relatively cheap!

;)
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DonnaG
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http://www.bristolciderhouse.co.uk/

Every Thursday from 9pm.
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Natalie Of Wicks
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Have to agree with everything Tony says.

Don't be one of those nights which have 15 open spots all going 5 minutes. Those are not fun to play or watch IMO. Start off with a 10 minute spot from a more experienced open spot, and then a couple of 5 minute spots. Interval. 2-3 more 5-7 minute spots. Interval. PAID headliner doing 20 minutes. Also, like Tony Said, make sure you have a good MC. For the love of god, don't do it yourself! Put some feelers out, try to find a slightly more experienced comic who is on the verge of turning pro and see if they are interested in a regular compare spot. It's good for them because they ge to build up MC skills and it's good for you as you have someone good who can be a permanent fixture and build a relationship with the sudience. If you have a likable MC, that might be enough to get you a core fan base.

Advertise on Facebook and comedy forums such as this and chortle, set up a temporary website or blog for the club, because people WILL Google it. But also make sure you have some physical advertising too. You need posters around the venue and some locals shops/cafes etc and you need to flyer- once a week, a day or two before the gig. if you flyer 200 people, and the flyers look good, and you're not in direct competition you might pull in 20 people. Might. While it seems a lot of effort for not loads of people, you need to be doing this while you're not established. Also, make sure you have a mailing list so you can take peoples' emails at the gig. If you say to the audience before an interval "if you join the mailing list, you can have a fun sized mars bar!" you will be amazed how easily people are swayed!

Try to look as professional as you can- if you have friends who are great at graphics etc, see if they will give you a hand with flyer/poster designs. The way your club looks will have a big impact.

See if the pub will put a little money in- £50 a time will pay for your printing and flyering costs, and will be a good way of getting people in. £100 will pay for that, plus a bit of money for a headliner. One person generally spends around £10 at a comedy night on drinks alone, so if you're getting in even 20 people that's already £200 the bar wouldn't normally be getting. If the pub won't put money in, email about and see if you can get any sponsorship money.

GOOD LUCK.


Quote: DonnaG @ January 20 2011, 12:29 PM GMT

http://www.bristolciderhouse.co.uk/

Every Thursday from 9pm.


Are you sure they have a comedy night? Can't see anything about it and the picture has a guitar-wielding gent.
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DonnaG
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Hey Nat, yes, I emailed them this morning and a guy called Charlie got back to me quite quickly with those details. I don't know what the place is like though, I was getting frustrated with looking for nights in Devon so extended my search further.
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Hopey
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The Bristol cider house is hard to find, but is apparently quite a nice pub. I might go along tonight and investigate (as an audience member). Hopefully I don't end up sitting through 600000 bad renditions of that seaside song by the kooks. Is it a mix of music and stand-up or there a leaning towards one "art form", do you know?
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DonnaG
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I've been on that many websites today trying to find something that I can't remember where I got the info from. This is the guy who I spoke to's email address, so it might be worth dropping him a line- enquiry@bristolciderhouse.co.uk

If you do go along, let me know what it is like!
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Hopey
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The facebook page has some pictures and it looks a bit like it could be dominated by old men playing guitars. Will e-mail now.
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Chefman
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i would love an opputunity as have been searching for a night in bristol for a while now with no success.
Maybe start with some sort of charity event-(all ticket sales go to charity or something)
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Hopey
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The cider hosue didn't reply to my e-mail so I decided not to go(bottled going). The pictures that can be found here-http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=294290976522#!/pages/Bristol-Cider-House/130189000266- made it look like an acoustic guitar, 3 chord, sing-song, old rockers pub meet up and I didn't really fancy attempting stand-up at an evening like that. Does anyone with a better knowledge of Bristol know of any pubs that would be able to cater to stand-up in the ways listed in the posts above. If someone can make suggestions I will e-mail.

Thanks.
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don rushmore
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Quote: Hopey @ January 22 2011, 7:29 PM GMT

The cider hosue didn't reply to my e-mail


More fool the cider hosue, then.
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Tony Cowards
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Quote: don rushmore @ January 22 2011, 8:36 PM GMT

More fool the cider hosue, then.


The Cider House Rules.
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Chefman
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Quote: Tony Cowards @ January 23 2011, 9:32 AM GMT

The Cider House Rules.


Have you performed there tony?
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