To everyone enjoying The Grand Budapest Hotel, please remember that it is not the only hotel in the Republic of Zubrowka.
Everyday I get around 15 Facebook notifications. The majority of them, about 90%, are invitations to various live performances in New York.
That’s an overwhelming amount of events to go to. I’m missing five live shows I’ve been invited to as I type this. And it’s a Tuesday night. I know we’re not all insane and think that when we mass invite our friends to our shows on Facebook everyone of them will show up, though sometimes they are insane enough to think we expect them to.
But we need butts in seats. Many times the shitty black box theaters and shitty bars we do our shows in not only charge us money for use of their shitty rooms and tiny, shitty stages, but also expect a certain number of people to come to our shows and buy their shitty beer for too much money. This is because, like us, they have to pay an amazing sum of money to continue to exist in this increasingly artist-hostile city. The idea, of course, is to raise rent until the only people who can live here are millionaires, who, when the poories are gone, will no longer wear clothes.
So I wanted to write a short article on how to get me, David Ebert, to come see your show. I really can’t write from anyone else’s perspective. I mean, people keep seeing Rock of Ages. As in, more than once. A commercial recently came out in which people declared proudly how many times they had seen Rock of Ages in a competition to show who could be the saddest/worst with money.
How to get David Ebert to come to your show
1. Don’t rely on a Facebook invite - A Facebook invite is more of a reference for the person deciding to attend. If I’ve decided to go to your show it’s rarely because you invited me on Facebook, but the invite still helps me with the pertinent details. The where’s and when’s I’ll need if your show is in a wine cellar under a basement under a church under a cave that I need a password to get in. Which leads me to my next point.
2. Get a good venue - Sometimes this is out of our control, we are offered a back room at Al’s Barfbeer off of the last stop of the L or even worse somewhere in Queens and we try to make the venue work and become a little home for comedy. And sometimes it works, but unless your friends are local, or you’re given amazing time slots, or some other great incentive, you won’t get a turn out except when you get large improv teams on the bill.
Better to shell out the dollars for a show at a more central location, or try to get your show at one of the larger improv theaters in town. It’s okay that you’re going to have to charge me money. If I’m leaving my apartment I assume I am spending $20 just for opening my door. A free show doesn’t always read as being a show worth going to. I’ll spend $10 to see a show I don’t have to travel through Mordor to get to.
3. Make sure your show is good - Is this show a rehearsal in front of friends? Is it? No, but is it? That’s no problem if it is. But I’m not going. When I recommend people come to my Maude show it’s with the knowledge that 27 people have each worked anywhere from 10-20 hours minimum to sculpt and craft the next hour of comedy you are about to see. They have dragged baby carriages from 5th floor walk ups 100 blocks away or purchased 6 foot hero sandwiches and tied them to crutches or stuffed spiders into dish gloves just for a stupid and hilarious reveal.
Your show doesn’t have to have this level of commitment to it, but you, the person inviting me, should feel as enthusiastic and charged about it as if it did. Ask yourself, would I come see this show if I didn’t know anyone in it? If the answer is no, then figure out how to make the show you would say yes to. What’s creative, different, and enticing to a viewer about your show? If you have no idea what that would look like, start going to and learning from other shows. Go to the ones your friends, teachers, Time Out New York, and Barack Obama tells you are good.
4. Make human connections with humans - Ding ding ding! I put the most important point last! If you personally reach out to me I will probably go to your show. Here is my example. Anthony Apruzzese followed points 1-3 the moment he started Showtime, his amazing late night show at the UCBeast.
He made the show he wanted to see, with the people he wanted to work with, giving them an outlet for perform their material, and he started it at Under St. Marks, perhaps New York’s most iconic shitty black box theatre. Because he was enthusiastic, and he gave his friends reasons to be enthusiastic, the UCB offered him a spot at their theatre. Now, you might think if you’ve landed a spot on a UCB stage you have a built in audience, and to some extent you do, but Anthony goes a step further. He has personally emailed me asking me to come out to his show, and although from my apartment in queens I have to transfer seven train lines and answer a Sphinx riddle to get to that theatre, I went.
Now it would be ridiculous to assume you’ll have the time to individually email every friend you have before every show. But do the math. How many seats do you have to fill? 100? And how large is your cast? 6? So you each email 20 friends. Or text them. Or face the nameless fear of our generation and call them. It will take one hour. And half show up and half of that half bring a friend or maybe even TWO FRIENDS. Point is, direct contact works. Some people will say it’s a flattering way to connect with old friends, others will say it’s an effective way to take advantage of an egomaniac’s hero complex that makes him/her believe they are responsible for your happiness and success by attending.
Either way, it makes people realize that you actually want them, as individuals, to come see your show. And then tell them you invited them on Facebook.
These are just a few helpful tips that will get me, David Ebert, to come see your show. If you have any other helpful tips on how people can get YOU to come to their shows, please comment.
Here is information on the shows and people I mentioned in this article.
Dear UCBNY students,
I made you a thing.
I know it can be difficult to circle the UCB Training Center’s Open Registrations pagelooking for classes to open up, so I first asked for a new, updated RSS feed of open classes, which the UCB IT staff produced marvelously. Then, knowing most people don’t actually use RSS readers, I created a series of alerts using the incredibly useful IFTTT (If This, Then That - I thought it was unusually fitting). You will need to register for the site.
These alerts will fire when a new class is added, when few seats remain in a class, and every time someone withdraws prior to class’ start, sending you an email each time.
You’ll get a bunch of emails. (Delete the ones you don’t need.)
Keep in mind, the alerts can take up to 15 minutes to send, which means, if a class fills in those first 15 (or 1) minutes, IFTTT may never see it. I’m currently looking for the best way to notify you of course preview posts on the UCB Message Board to fill that gap, but come on, if you’re obsessed or desperate enough to use one of these, you’re already checking regularly.
- Improv 101
- Improv 201
- Improv 301
- Improv 401
- Improv 410: Game Focus
- Improv 411: Performance Focus
- Improv 412: Listening and Reacting Focus
- Advanced Study Harold
- Advanced Study Improv
- Advanced Study Performance
- Improv Elective
- Del Close Marathon Workshop
- Character 101
- Musical Improv 101
- Musical Improv 201
- Storytelling and Solo Work 101
- Improv 101 for Teens
It’s not perfect, but it should help you get those open seats you so desperately want.
Please let me know if anything can be improved.
(This is a personal project, not endorsed by UCB.)
An immensely useful tool from the ever generous Chris Griswaldorf The Gray