Headlining a Comedy Club


It took 8 years for me to lock in a headlining gig at a comedy club. I won’t go into detail about what a great night it was, or how every joke got huge laughs or how half of my set was getting applause breaks. What I will write about are the bumps and bruises I went through to get my first club headlining gig.

  1. After contacting a comedy club booker, I was told, “I’m not willing to bump any of the regular feature acts for you. You can work here every now and then but you’re just not strong enough.”
  2. I went up as the headliner at a restaurant after 5 other comics had already performed. By the time I went up, all of the other comic’s supporters had left and I performed in front of my 4 kids and 3 other people.
  3. After a tough day on the job, I took to the stage at a local open mic. Still angry, my set was delivered with that same emotion and brought everybody down. Not one laugh was uttered.
  4. While hosting a professional comedy club show on a Wednesday night, I decide to do all new material. Half the audience was deaf and every comic was accompanied by an interpreter on stage. For 8 minutes of my 10 minute set, the listening audience became as silent as the deaf audience. Lesson learned? Never do all new material on a pro night!
  5. While hosting for the 1st time ever, I cut my set before I was given the “light” to wrap it up. Since the guy responsible for giving me the light was not in the sound booth, I ended with no ending music track and brought up the feature act with no music either. The club owner chased me down to the green room and gave me an earful, “Why the hell did you do that! That was fucking unprofessional! You left the stage without music and the Feature Act was brought up without music!” Lesson learned? Always have  a few more jokes in your pocket in case you get more time than you expected.
  6. Before hosting at a new club, I checked in with the club manager and told him I’d be ready to go when the club was. I, however, did not wait for the show to start in an area where the manager could see me, so he assumed I was  M.I.A. After about 15 minutes, past the time that the show was supposed to start, I went up to the manager to ask if we were ready. His response? “What the fuck is wrong with you! We’ve been looking for you all over the fucking place! This is no way to make a good impression at a new fucking club! FUCK!” Then, speaking into the sound booth mic, with a smile on his face, the manager got the show started, “Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to laugh? Say ‘Hell yeah!'”.

The list could go on, but digest some of the above for a while. If you’re on the stand up comedy journey, understand that there will be more horror stories than there will be success stories for years to come. Stick with it and you will eventually start scratching the surface to getting the recognition you deserve. I’m still a long way off but my stubbornness will keep me around for a very long time.

Carryon, my wayward sons & daughters!

Published by Omar Tarango

I am a father, company manager, and a stand up comic. Being a stand up comic is the least funniest of the three.

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