Promoting a Comedy. Part 2: Choosing a Venue

The choice of venue is incredibly important. Is it close to public transport? Is there parking? Refreshments? Box Office? Bathrooms? Lighting? But there is one factor of incredible importance that I want to focus on today . . . capacity.

Taken by Beatrice Murch (blmurch)

When it comes to big-budget theatre there isn’t a huge range of choice in Australia. Most capital cities only have a limited number of venues available. But for the 489 shows at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, the variety of venues is endless and caters to every different style of act. So how do you choose?

Equally tied with location, capacity is one of the most important considerations. The number of empty seats available at a performance negatively correlates with the atmosphere. The more empty seats there are in the venue, the more subdued the atmosphere. The fewer empty seats in the venue, the more electric the atmosphere.

But there is a condition on this relationship. It is actually better to have slightly fewer seats available than you know are going to be filled. If you are expecting 250 people at each performance get a venue that seats 240.

Yes, at each performance there is the possibility of 10 people missing out. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Having a slightly smaller venue size ensures that each night will be completely full and hence the atmosphere will be electric meaning that all the audience members leave after having an electric experience. And that is great for word-of-mouth as these satisfied audience members cannot stop talking about their great experience.

And then there are the branding implications . . .

While it may not seem like a possible advantage at the time, one of the most important areas of promotion is the Comedy Festival board outside the Melbourne Town Hall. Every day, some poor person has to painstakingly write (in chalk) all the shows which are taking place that night and their locations on this oversized blackboard. And whenever one of these shows is sold out, a little red Sold Out sign goes up next to the performance.

These Sold Out signs are the bane of any Comedy Festival consumer because it signals that the show is so popular that all the tickets have already been snatched up. But there is some strange biological urge present in every person which cannot be left out of the in-crowd who have already bought tickets.

It acts as a small advertisement that your show is worth seeing because so many other people are seeing booking tickets. And that strange urge inside all of us means that we must have a ticket because everyone else has one.

And as if that wasn’t enough. Think of all the great promotional material that can be created later stating that this show featured an entirely sold out run at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Now that is enough to decrease any potential consumer risk which may deter audiences from buying tickets!