If I'm being honest, there were several shows I helped produce where I didn't put the effort in as a producer. Those shows all have something in common, and that is that they all no longer exist. Sometimes you don't put in the effort right away, other times you wait till you get comfortable (maybe like 6 months to a year into running the show) and then decide to say 'fuck it' and nowTuesday (or whatever school night your show is on) is just the night you get drunk for free and do crowd work for 11 minutes to the 6 people who attended your show.
Side note: It's okay to cancel shows. If there are more comedians than audience members at your show, you're wasting people's time. People will forgive you for not being funny, they won't forgive you for wasting their time.
When I think about producers of independent shows that give a shit, they aren't afraid to really push their own show, because they know they're putting the effort and work into producing something that people are going to want to attend. Not just once either, something they'll want to come out to regularly and tell their friends. How cool is that? You can have make something that people are actually interested in and all you have to do is have a little pride in yourself.
I'm not going to list all the things you need to do to run a perfect show. There are plenty of articles that already do that, and honestly, if you want to see it in person, just go attend one of the shows that's been around for several years and you and other comics are mad that you aren't getting booked for. Chances are they are doing something right, and you can actually see first hand success running a show that could be completely attainable for you, assuming you're going to give a shit.
With all that being said, you should come see a show at the Nation's longest running independently ran comedy show, The Lincoln Lodge. Holy shit, Kyle. Did you really write that whole article just to plug the show you help produce every Friday at 8PM at Subterranean? Yes, I did, person reading this. Yes, I did. That's how much I give a shit.
Contributing Writer Kyle Scanlan
Living the dream in Chicago, Kyle Scanlan is a comedian/writer/producer, member of the one and only Lincoln Lodge and founder of the funny as hell news satire site The Whiskey Journal.