Are free tickets the answer for comedy clubs during the recession?

By | August 5, 2009 at 10:45 am | 2 comments | News | Tags: ,

While some comedy clubs have been forced to switch formats or even close due to the economic downturn, Stanford and Sons Comedy Club in Kansas City continues to thrive. The club continues to have packed crowds for its shows, drawing audiences at pre-recession levels.

Their reason for success: most tickets are given away for free.

“I could just sell tickets,” club owner Craig Glazer told The Atlantic. “But the three people who could afford them now wouldn’t have any fun because they’d be watching the show in an empty room.”

Through radio giveaways, contests, and other promotions, Glazer has found away to fill the seats for his shows. Their business approach has shown that one can stay successful through giving away free tickets; people who are excited to have free entrance still keep the kitchen and bar busy each night.

Stanford and Sons’ approach may reflect a shifting trend in how comedy clubs operate.

“Now clubs are selling the idea of it being a good night out, rather than targeting a specific audience,” comedian Josh Sneed said. “I don’t know if it’s a recession-proof business exactly, but when times are bad, people still feel they want to laugh.”

We want to know what Punchline Magazine readers think. Is giving away free tickets to stand-up comedy the best way to get people in the seats during a recession? Does it de-value stand-up comedy as an art form? Tell us in the comments section!

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Daniel Perlman

  • Steve Roye

    Here’s the deal: You can’t recover from free tickets. Been there, done that in San Diego.

    There is a stand-up comedy boom lurking. And these guys are going to be left with free ticket cotton mouth from the free ticket stop gap.

    When I promoted my one man show in Hawaii, it was only a 100 seater. But I used two-for-one pro vip passes to make it work – to the tune of $1600 per show.

    This move appears to be an act of desperation caused by lack of promotion ability for paid shows. I don’t support that at all.

  • Tim O’Halloran

    I know at clubs near my home town in Albany, NY they stop having as many shows during the summer. Then when they start back up in September they have their normal amount of shows but the price for tickets is sharply reduced. It really helps bring in a bigger crowd and being a stand-up myself I can’t see it devalue the art at all. As for free tickets, I think the same applies. We need an audience, and right now I’m not sure we can be picky as to how we get one.

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