Comedy Economics

After paying all the comedians, I wound up earning $30 for doing about 15 minutes of stand up. There’s two interesting calculations you could do:

1) $30 for 15 minutes means I’m making $120 an hour. If I were to work a standard 40 hour work week for 50 weeks, that’d be $120 * 2000, or $240,000 a year. Pretty good. Even if I only work an hour per night, which is much more feasible, that’s $3,600 a month ($120 * 30) or $43,200 a year. Still livable.

2) After factoring in train costs ($18), I’m down to $12 profit. I left my house at 4PM to get to the show and didn’t get back home until 1am. Putting the flyer together took me 2 hours and booking all the comics took another hour. That’s 9 hours yesterday and 12 hours in the past two weeks. Factor in the time it took me to write and practice the jokes this past week alone, and that’s 12 more hours. That’s a total of 24 hours of my time, which works out to 50 cents an hour, or $1,000 a year if I’m doing this full time. If it’s the more reasonable one hour per night calculation, I’m gonna be earning $180 a year.

Don’t misunderstand: I’m not complaining at all. I love comedy, being on stage and making people laugh. I just find it interesting to analyze the business side of comedy. If it were about the money I’d be spending my free time doing investment banki… umm… something more profitable.

One quick comedy example: Norm McDonalad earns $40,000 a night in Vegas, which sounds astronomical ($12 million a year if he works 300 nights). But if his analysis time breakdown is anything like mine, what Norm gets isn’t as good as it sounds. (I recommend that article.)

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  • One Reply to “Comedy Economics”

    1. I am also a Comedienne living in Stamford, CT. I’ve been doing stand-up for 5 years now, and all of your tips and information has helped arm me to be more confident and knowledgeable, as I seek out potential venues to produce shows.
      Thanks a lot! I appreciate it.

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