Dave – What’s up. I have a quick question. You’ve helped me in the past with the structure of my Bio and Resume by looking in your book, How To Be A Working Comic. My question now is, I’m trying to come up with a structured letter or email to send to bookers or comedy clubs to get booked. Something where I would also have a link to a page with me performing. Would your book have something like that or could you point me in the right direction? I would really appreciate it… man! – K.B.
PS – We all love your emails and words of wisdom! So keep’em coming!
First of all, I’ll start with the “last of all” in your message. Thanks. I just want to help you guys get on stage.
What you’re talking about is a cover letter. It’s an introduction to you and a request to check out your video and performance credits for work. Just about everyone uses email instead of mailing a “letter,” but we both know we’re talking about the same thing.
Writing the cover letter (like the bio) can be almost as creative as your comedy material. Not everyone will agree with me on that, but I used to get a lot of cover letters with promo packages when I was booking A&E’s An Evening at the Improv and believe me, with so much competition to be noticed, the creative ones would catch my attention.
If I had to read something, it might as well be informative AND fun.
You’re a comedian, so I would expect you to be a funny person. I would also expect to be entertained – at least a little bit. Just don’t make your cover letter an entire comedy monologue. The only exception would be if it is really, REALLY funny. Otherwise, save your best bits for your promo video and on-stage showcase.
You don’t want to make your cover letter too long and wordy. You should be able to introduce yourself (that’s what it’s for) and say everything you want the reader to do (the purpose behind a cover letter) in just two or three short paragraphs.
If you have another comedian or booker as a reference, mention it somewhere toward the beginning. Then tell the booker you’ve heard nothing but GREAT things about his club and you would abandon your entire family and all worldly possessions to perform there.
Okay, maybe not in those desperate words – mainly because you don’t want to come off as too desperate.
But it never hurts to send out a bit of good will and a compliment or two (great crowds, best comics, beautiful club, professional staff – pick one). Use your common sense on how you might kiss-up to the boss without sounding like a kiss-up.
The showbiz term for it is schmoozing.
Mention a couple of your most impressive credits. Did you win a contest? Have you played another major club? Headline a benefit show? Perform at colleges? Again, just a couple – don’t go overboard.
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If you don’t have a direct reference or connection with the booker to use at the beginning, you might still have a good recommendation. Comedians and speakers that perform for local organizations, benefits and/or colleges – wherever (and yeah, sometimes for free) should always ask for a letter (email) of recommendation. If you don’t – you should. Then take a line or two from one or two of those and put it in the body of your letter:
“Jenny Comic was very funny and helped to make our fundraiser a success.” – (credit quote to person and organization).
Then come right out and ask the booker to watch your promo video. Say it – don’t hint at it. ” Attached is a link to my video… please watch it… I’m sure you’ll enjoy it… I want to play your club…” (As always, use your own words).
If you’re doing this by email include a working link to your website that contains your video or a link for your video. If you’re sending a snail mail letter, highlight your website link in the body of your letter AND include a promo package with a DVD.
****As I’ve mentioned earlier and in past FAQs, just about everything today is done online and that’s the main reason the book How To Be A Working Comic was updated to include online promoting. But what is now found on websites – and often requested by talent bookers – is the same material outlined in earlier editions of the book and what you would find in an effective “hard-copy” promotional package.
Now back to the cover letter… uh, email…
At the end of your message thank the booker for his or her time and (here’s the secret) instead of saying something along the lines of “I hope to hear from you soon,” Tell him or her you will contact them within a certain time frame. Usually, two weeks is good. This follow-up can be done by email, but I suggest a phone call. There’s always a chance they will call you, but I wouldn’t hold my breath unless you have a solid gold reference from a major comedian or have already worked for a big-time talent booker.
The idea is to keep the door open for you to contact the booker again. AND you’ve mentioned this in advance.
Now, this is where today’s article could turn into a book chapter about “playing the game” when contacting talent bookers and building professional relationships. I’ve talked about that in past newsletters and will probably repeat myself in future ones. The focus behind today’s FAQ And Answer is to map out your cover letter.
Remember, you work in the entertainment “business” and should treat it that way – as a “business.”
Creativity can be a major plus in promotions, but you also need to be professional about it. Keep your email (cover letter) concise and to the point. Talent bookers receive a lot of submissions and don’t have time to read through pages and pages of sample comedy routines or promises of, “How you are going to change the face of comedy,” or “How you have been funny since birth.”
Tell them what you’ve done, throw in a recommendation (if you have one or two) and that you would like to work for them. Then make it easy to find and watch your promotional video. That sounds like a “working” cover letter to me.
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Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!