File this under FAQ. Let's get to it.
Lots of positive reach-outs from comedians excited about the business-build and asking to be a part of "the roster". Even though it's common for comedy clubs & agencies to showcase their comedy talent — I'm taking a different approach.
This is not a knock on anyone else operating on a roster system but I have a firm stance that the best comedy is unencumbered and ultimately best left independent.
I prefer to work in a partner system where we collaborate on events, projects and productions but there is no expected loyalty to my brand. The reason I do this is because my only metric for success on the talent-end is to help comedians succeed. Saying they'll succeed as long as they are loyal to my brand and my product doesn't sit right with me. I believe both sides should understand what they're getting out of the relationship without any caveats one way or another.
So then it comes down to a very clear question:
If I don't have a roster system, who do I work, and how do I make that choice?
Here's a simple breakdown:
- Canadian comedians: We have less of a club infrastructure than America and lack a star system so I'm specifically trying to elevate Canadian comedians.
- Seasoned professionals: We're looking at 10+ years as a working professional with a proven track record.
- Vouched-for up-and-comers: We default to supporting comedian growth whether professionally or creatively but do require a seasoned professional to pass a vouch forward. We trust our network to push comics forward who are putting in the work and improving at the mics to the point where they can be trusted to be hired professionally.
- Respectful individuals: We hire comedians who will not only act and behave professionally but will treat the venues, clients and fellow comedians with respect and decency. It's common that we'll book different comedians with clashing viewpoints. We see the value that brings to the audience but those tensions should be left on stage. Off stage, everyone should feel safe and supported when they're performing under our brand.
It's a wide umbrella but we also have standards around the comedians we won't book. I'll break that down as well:
- Stagnant acts: These are comedians who have been in the game long enough to know you need to continually be writing and performing to improve the act but are choosing not to do so. We prioritize career growth and are looking to comedians who are challenging themselves, writing new material and ultimately growing.
- Untrustworthy business partners: This is defined by anyone who negates on an agreed-upon payment or refuses to pay outstanding payments for work. Any debts would need to be squared-up with the respective individuals before a new relationship can be considered. We operate on a high standard of trust and expect the same from anyone who works with us.
- Provocateurs: This is defined as comedians who talk negative about the brand the publicly instead of working out issues internally. The more our audience can trust the brand, the more work we can provide to comedians. To be clear, this doesn't mean we won't work people who have criticisms over our work or my leadership. For example: If a comedian doesn't like me personally but is hired to perform and does a great job, awesome, glad it worked out. But if that same comedian then makes a video damning myself and the brand and tosses it up on Youtube, that would hurt the trust battery and we simply wouldn't be working together going forward.
That last point is very important. I'm creating a comedy business that is ultimately good for comedians. I don't need people to like me, my comedy, or my choices but I do require mutual respect.
I keep an open-door policy for anyone that would like to work out interpersonal conflict or discuss past occurrences.
The truth is, if you chose comedy as your dream, you made a really hard choice. You picked a hard road with very little payoff for a very long time. Especially if you're doing it in Canada. There's no sense in making things harder on you and for that very reason that you're choosing the path less followed.
I want to be a support beam for the greater standup community and make sure as many comedians as possible have the time, funds and opportunity to build their careers.
There are a few tenets that I follow:
- Positive-sum approach: I don't believe in famine mentality and believe there's enough spots at the table for everyone.
- Personal ownership: I will always be transparent with where I'm at, what I'm doing, what I'm building and why I'm making the choices I'm making.
- Fail forward: I'm not promising the moon and the stars. Building this company has been very hard, I have no funding and have been building this 100% alone. I'm passionate enough to keep failing forward in spite of what obstacles I face so I'll never inflate where I'm at in the journey.
I personally consider myself very lucky to fail as much as I have. I continue to learn from mistakes and show up every day to focus on the build. I know it feels like I'm going at a snail's pace and comedians are chomping at the bit to get to work but please bare with as I navigate the build.
So long story short: no roster.