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Ray Harrington’s Comedian Rulebook Part 3

Ray Harrington is a comic from Maine who recently posted a whole list of rules comedians should follow on a stand up comedy group on Facebook. Here’s the first ten rules. Here’s 11-23. Now here’s the rest:

‎24. Know why you’re doing a show. Is it for the money? Sharpening an established set? Working on new material? Networking? Getting seen by a booker? Now tailor your set to that.

25. If your 15 is the same as it was last time I saw you at the same venue, it’s time to write some new material. Sharpening bits is one thing, becoming THAT 15 is another. When a venue has seen the same material 5 times, what’s the incentive to watch you again?

26. Contests are a beast. If you win, be humble. If you lose, don’t be bitter. A contest only means that’s how you did THAT night in front of THAT crowd.

‎27. Making a room full of your friends laugh is lightyears away from making strangers laugh.

‎28. If you’re booked for 5, do 5. Booked for 20, do 20. It’s not up to you how much time you do. Know when the crowd is done.

29. The only way to know if your material is good is to do it in different venues. Killing in one room and one room only will only hurt you in the long run. While I won’t say where, I’ve seen so many comics come from a club they ‘kill’ in and can’t handle an audience outside of that. The only way to be as good as you can be is to do it everywhere.

 ‎30. IT. TAKES. TIME. Look at any national name and see how long they worked at it. You can’t expect to start now and be on Comedy Central next year. Some people have done it, and they either burn out or are the exception to the rule. When you’re ready, you’re ready.

‎31. BE ON TIME. You aren’t king shit so show up before the show.If you ARE king shit, you should still show up before the show.

 ‎32. I can’t stress this enough so I will repeat it: BE PROFESSIONAL. This is a business. Your actions reflect on every single one of us.

 ‎33. Sometimes contacts are earned, not asked for.

‎34. Stage time is never a given.

 ‎35. There’s nothing wrong with doing comedy as a hobby. If you aren’t in it for a career, it’s totally fine. Just remember, for some it’s their job.

36. The Business is in thirds. 1/3 Material, 1/3 stage presence, 1/3 behind the scenes work. Make sure you’re working on all 3.

Also, for those of you that read these and say “Who the hell is this Ray Harrington guy?” here’s a vid:

Now here’s something I’m adding to the list:

37. If you’re new, DON’T SHOW YOUR VIDEOS TO EVERYBODY ON THE INTERNET. It’s a mistake I made and see a lot of new kids making, I recently went through and privated 90% of my old videos. And I hate the rest, I still don’t think I have a truly good video on the internet. I see kids going into various groups that bookers frequent and posting “MY FIRST TIME DOING STANDUP LOL!!!” It’s going to hurt you in the future, trust me.

Ray Harrington’s Comedian Rulebook Part 1

Ray Harrington is a comic from Maine who recently posted a whole list of rules comedians should follow on a stand up comedy group on Facebook. Here’s the first ten rules. I’ll post the rest later (He’s still writing rules and adding to the list.)

This group has a lot of different level comics in it so maybe a thread on The Business can be helpful to some. Things that we’ve seen that hurt the business, things that comics should try to avoid or aim for, things that we’ve learned along the way about The Business:
1. Never do an open mic on Friday or Saturday. Those days are for paid shows. Free will hurt the business and you down the road.

2. The more comics on a show, the more tired the audience will be no matter how short the sets are. People have to reboot for every comic. The 3 comic night has been tried and true for decades for a reason.

3. Being professional at all times is KEY to being booked. Getting a gig is hard, getting a gig AGAIN can be harder if you aren’t professional.

4. Don’t get an ego. Being good is something to be proud of, but doesn’t mean you’re owed anything.

5. Cliche’ but true: Be good to those around you on the way up, you never know who you’ll run into on the way down.

6. Hosting is important and different than a set. SERVE THE SHOW. ‘Killing’ isn’t your job when you’re hosting. It’s your job to be smooth, professional, and make the show better for the audience and other comics.

7. If you’re talking to comics that are working, pay attention and you can learn a LOT in a short time.


‎8. Know that bookers have a million other people asking the same questions you are. Be patient and PROFESSIONAL when you talk to bookers.

9. If you book a show, that’s what you are doing that night. Never ditch a booking for something that comes along after. It may be better, more money, or more important, but you agreed to perform. If you’re professional about your bookings, it will make you look better and a reliable comic is often booked over another comic that may be ‘better’ than them.


10. When a set goes poorly, sometimes it’s the crowd. Most of the time though, it’s the comic. Don’t walk off stage and say, “Bad crowd” if someone else can make it work. Look at what worked and didn’t. You’ll learn something every time. But learn to recognize when it WAS just a bad crowd.