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How to engage with room runners (bookers)

Who should read this:

  • New performers interested in spots


So you've checked out comedy room and you're interested in performing there, but you don't know how to go about asking for a spot. You ask one of the performers on the night and they tell you who the room runner(s) is. If you're looking to introduce yourself to a comedy room runner, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to know what a room runner in a reputable comedy room actually does.


A comedy room runner (or "booker" as is used in the US and UK) is responsible for booking and organising comedy shows in a comedy club. They work with comedians, agents (for higher profile acts), and venue management to schedule shows, negotiate fees and contracts, and ensure that the performances run smoothly.


Here are some of the main tasks that a comedy room booker may be responsible for:

  1. Booking comedians: The room runner is responsible for selecting and booking comedians to perform in the comedy room or club. This involves researching comedians, reviewing their work, and contacting their agents or managers to negotiate contracts and fees.

  2. Scheduling shows: The room runner must create a schedule of shows for the comedy room or club, taking into account the availability of comedians, the venue's availability, and other factors such as holidays and special events.

  3. Managing budgets: The booker is responsible for managing the budget for the comedy room or club. This includes negotiating fees with comedians and other performers, setting ticket prices, and managing expenses such as marketing and promotion.

  4. Promoting shows: The room runner must promote the comedy shows to attract audiences. This involves creating marketing materials such as posters and flyers, advertising on social media and other platforms, and reaching out to local media outlets to get coverage for the shows.

  5. Coordinating logistics: The room runner must coordinate the logistics of the comedy shows, including arranging for sound and lighting equipment, seating arrangements, and other details to ensure that the performances run smoothly.

  6. In Australian cities, and typically for smaller sized comedy rooms, the room runner is also responsible for customer engagement and social media elements, along with graphic design and IT activities.


Overall, a comedy room runner plays a crucial role in the success of a comedy venue or club. They work closely with comedians and other performers to curate a lineup of shows that will attract audiences and keep them coming back for more.


Face to Face:
  1. Introduce yourself, but understand that room runners are typically extremely busy on the night, they rarely have time for chit chat. Like with comedy, timing is key. Don't bother them while they're busy doing or carrying something.

  2. When you do get a chance to chat to them, keep your introduction to a minimum. Best thing is to:

    1. Tell them your name and that you're interested in performing

    2. Do not proceed to tell them your life story or why you want to do stand up, pitch jokes, try to be funny. Keep it professional like you're meeting an employer for any other job. Room runners are so put off by time wasters. We often get unsolicited trauma offloading, people with very inconsequential problems, and needy acts trying to push in the queue by thinking that forcing their time on a room runner will get them an advantage over others. This ends up having the opposite effect.

    3. Best thing to do is ask for the application process. Listen. Actually fill the forms.

    4. If you ask for the best email address that you can contact on, this is best.

    5. Be respectful to others around the room. Perth is a close-knit scene and we watch how newcomers treat everyone. Social climbers, tactical posers - all that stuff is gross and we can smell it a mile away. Treat everyone with courtesy and respect, regardless of who they are or what they can offer you. If you're incapable of being authentic and genuine, it'll show very quickly.

  3. Do not approach room runners whilst intoxicated. Treat them like any employer. Respect this profession that many dedicate their free time to do.


Emailing them:

Here are some tips to help you make a great first impression:

  1. Do your research: Before reaching out to a comedy room runner, do your research to find out what kind of shows they book and what their preferences are. This will help you tailor your introduction to their specific interests and needs.

  2. Read any existing procedures and follow them. In order to support a massive scene, Grassroots is process and system driven. Additionally allows us to test the competency of the performer, whether they're able to self-navigate or require a lot of hand holding for basic administrative skills. The link to our form to perform at our Experimental Comedy Club, Traffic Light Game and other Grassroots events are listed in the Perth Comedy Gig Spreadsheet

  3. KEEP IT BRIEF: When introducing yourself, keep your message short and to the point. Introduce yourself, mention any relevant experience you have, and express your interest in performing at their venue. We seriously cannot stress this point. The volume that some people write and expect room runners to read your 3000 word essay is absurd. The audacity to think everyone has the time to read these emails is incredibly staggering.

  4. Stop sharing your life story and why you were somehow "born to do standup" (Seriously, this is not an uncommon type of email). Most room runners have full time jobs and do not need you to waste their time any further.

  5. Provide a sample of your work: If possible, include a link to a video or audio clip of your comedy routine so the booker can get a sense of your style and material.

  6. For the love of god, try not to be funny on your email. Just keep it BRIEF. Simple and don't waste anyone's time.

  7. Be professional: Remember that comedy is a business, so it's important to approach room runners in a professional manner. Use proper grammar and spelling, and avoid using slang or other casual language.

  8. Follow up: If you don't hear back from the room runner after your initial introduction, don't be afraid to follow up a week or two later. However keep your message brief and polite, and express your continued interest in performing at their venue.


Overall, the key to introducing yourself to a comedy room booker is to be polite, professional, brief, and respectful of their time and interests. By doing your research and tailoring your message to their needs, you can increase your chances of getting booked at their venue.


ABSOLUTE DON'Ts

  1. Facebook Friend Request room runners and try to reach out to them on personal channels (unless otherwise stated on the gig sheet)

  2. Call room runners when that number is clearly not specified on any gig sheets

  3. Expect to be given face to face time during shows. Do not confront room runners about why you're not getting booked. It will only make your situation worse. Patience is a serious virtue. Using the time off stage to practice your sets and get better prepared. The worst thing is waiting 5 months for a spot and then bombing because you clearly didn't prepare, and then expecting another gig shortly after

  4. Messaging them your life story. Emailing them your life story. Offloading your traumas after meeting them within 2 minutes (this happens way too many times). Make people feel comfortable with working with you.

  5. Room runners are not your psychologist, your mum or dad. And you're not a child. Engage professionally, don't come in seeking


If you don't get a reply, or you don't hear back from them:

  1. Enquire again, politely. Do not be abrasive.

  2. Chances are they may have overlooked the email. The volume of engagement is intense. Be patient

  3. It could be a festival period - in which case, room runners tend to hunker down and focus on their shows over bookings with performers

  4. Truthfully, you may be a nuisance. If you're getting ignored by numerous clubs, you're probably an unbearable nuisance and conversations and anecdotes have been remarked about how overzealous, unpleasant and difficult you are. If you're showing up and constantly trying to hustle for spots and doing it at the worst times, or completely unable to sense the opportune times to have a conversation, try being human for a change.

  5. There's hope - hope in the way you can batten down the hatches, write jokes, get better at comedy, read the books, don't take your stage time for granted, do all the smaller rooms that need spots filled. Ultimately if you're better at comedy, tolerances are increased. You still want to be easy to deal with and engage with so you can always get as many gigs as possible

We'll leave you with something bittersweet - It's only gonna get more difficult in Perth. Talk to any comic in Melbourne and you'll get a sense of the times ahead. BUT with that, the magnitude of opportunities are more extensive. More incentives to stand out, more opportunities to find your tribe, work with people you gel with. With the advent of online content, and the unlimited resources to professionally develop yourself, there's so many entry points into the scene. Just continue to write, be patient, watch as many shows as possible, stay humble and be appreciative of any stage time to be had.








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