Despite the stagnated economic growth of the last few years, comedy clubs in the area have avoided the problems plaguing many other industries.
While purchases of luxury items usually stall during slow economies, managers at clubs like the Kansas City Improv and Stanford and Son’s Comedy Club say they have been able to fill their seats just as they did before the recession.
Jefrey Gase is the manager of the KC Improv and has been managing comedy clubs for the past six years. He says he anticipated a significant drop in attendance when the economy went under, but the tough economic times have actually drove more people to his club.
“Our speculation was because we were under economic hard times, people were looking for an escape. You know, going to clubs, having that kind of intimacy with the comics and more or less forgetting about the troubles. But we have seen an uptick in the past three or four years.”
Even if the cathartic benefits of comedy have helped keep ticket sales up, clubs also used other strategies to bring people in. For example, Gase says the Improv used what he called a “stimulus package” of complimentary tickets to gain new customers.
Jeff Glazer, who co-founded Stanford and Son’s in 1979, said his club has been unfazed by the economy as well. To avoid any kind of dip in attendance, he said he had to pay attention to who he was putting on stage, not just in the audience.
“If you know you’ve got a popular comedian — if you’ve got Jerry Seinfeld or Larry the Cable Guy — it doesn’t matter if you’re on welfare or they just got a bonus and a raise, they’re going to come see them. So we adjust it buy booking and bringing in more name comedians.”
While comedy has survived an economic down turn that has hurt giants like the real estate and auto industries, it’s certainly not invincible. Glaser says smaller clubs like his have been fighting a different beast: social media.
“Any open-mic comic, he might be a college student that works at the clothing store, and he takes a three minute bit, posts it on YouTube, there you go. It’s nation-wide. It’s saturated — it kind of devalues the importance of being able to see somebody on video or live.”
This has been Cody Kuiper for Funny Folks.