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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.