Disclaimer: The information contained in this document is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. These guidelines are not intended to be legal advice. By accessing and using these guidelines, which are subject to periodic change, you acknowledge and agree that you are using these guidelines at your own risk and liability. CASC does not guarantee the accuracy or enforceability of these guidelines. CASC is not responsible for or liable for the suitability, accuracy, validity or reliability of these guidelines for any purpose, nor for any damages associated with the use of these guidelines, whether direct or indirect, including any loss of income, loss of revenue, or loss of opportunity.

The following are guidelines for what comedians should be charging, at a minimum, for comedic services.

There are many different factors, and we have done our best to account for many factors, but this document is in no way comprehensive. However, we hope that this document will at least provide some guidance so that individual comedians can make their own determination as to what constitutes fair value for their services.

To reiterate, these guidelines are for suggested minimum pay. There will be many situations where a comedian can and should demand more than the minimum (e.g. experience, TV credits, the need to write custom material, etc).

Ultimately, we hope that if comedians collectively and consistently follow these guidelines for suggested minimums we can set pricing expectations in the marketplace and establish, in the mind of the consumer, that the art of comedy has worth.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE PAID

If you do not value your art, no one will.

Breakdown

Open Mic Shows

Open mic shows are usually free or a hat that is past around. Comedians usually perform for free at these shows. If enough funds are made from the PWYC, the producer may pay the comedians a fee. Make sure to ask the producer before the show what their terms are when it comes to payment.

Breakdown

Non-Corporate Shows

These guidelines apply to shows where the producers are aiming to make a profit, either by charging the venue for their production services or by selling tickets. These guidelines do not apply to open mics, the express purpose of which is to give comedians an opportunity to test new material, and producers are not aiming to profit.

Suggested minimums for comedian pay would be based on a number of factors:

1) Ticket price: The price being charged for each individual ticket

2) Available Tickets: The number of people who would be representative of a sold out show

3) Day of the Week: Entertainment should incur a premium on weekends versus less popular days of week such as a Monday or Tuesday

4) Event Date: If the show falls on a particular holiday where entertainment is in higher demand (i.e. New Year’s Eve) then this would also incur a premium

5) Content Restrictions (i.e. R-rated versus PG): The more restrictions there are on content, the higher the premium

6) Number of Comedians: The number of comedians on the show who will be splitting the portion of the budget earmarked for performers

7) Billing on the show: There would be a difference in the expected pay for a host, opener, or headliner

These factors would be combined to create a formula for a comedian to determine what their minimum pay should be.

EXAMPLE:

Consider a show where the ticket price is $20, there are 50 available tickets, the show is on a Saturday, the event does not fall on a special date, and there are no content restrictions.

$20 (ticket price) x 50 available tickets = $1,000 theoretical operating budget for the show.

We recommend that the minimum percentage of this total budget that should go towards comedian pay is 25%. This should be the absolute minimum a producer should be paying his artists regardless of ticket sales. Some comedians have suggested that the amount should be at least 50% that goes towards comedians. The producer should be between 25% to 50%. This accounts for the fact that producers would be spending part of the budget on marketing as well as the potential that the show will not sell out. This also leaves room for the producers to profit.

So from the $1,000 theoretical budget, $250 should be allocated towards comedian pay.

Because the show is on a Saturday, we would add a 10% premium to this. So the total comedian pay budget is now $275.

On this particular show, there is a host doing approximately 15 minutes total, four openers doing 10 minutes each, and a headliner doing 30.

If we split up the pay by the amount of time each comedian is doing proportionally, then we end up with the following approximate pay splits (rounded to the nearest division of 10):

– Host: $50

– Openers: $30/each

– Headliner: $100

If the show requires a significant amount of travel to get there (i.e. > 1-hour driving for most of the comedians), then the producer should allocate a reasonable part of their budget to cover those costs as well (i.e. sufficient gas for a carpool) .

REMEMBER! THESE WOULD BE RECOMMENDED MINIMUM AMOUNTS

HOW TO GAUGE

Festivals

SEE DETAILS

HOW TO GAUGE

Club Shows

SEE DETAILS

breakdown

Corporate Shows

The suggested minimum for comedian pay for corporate shows would start at a baseline of $750 per hour and then go up or down depending on the below factors, applied in this order:

1) Content Restrictions (i.e. R-rated versus PG): The more restrictions there are on content, the higher the premium. A clean show should incur a 33% price increase.

2) Size of the Event: How many people will be attending the event. This would factor into situations where the audiences are particularly large or small. For every 100 audience members over 100, there should be a 10% increase in pricing. So an audience of 200 should incur a 20% increase from the new baseline.

3) Day of the Week: Entertainment should incur a premium on weekends versus less popular days of the week such as a Monday or Tuesday. A premium day should incur a 10% increase while a non-premium day can result in a 10% discount.

4) Time of the Day: Comedy during the morning or day would typically cost less than comedy during the evenings as a day gig is less common (therefore, less likely to incur conflicts) and does not preclude the booking of an evening gig for that same date. A discount of 10% could be applied to daytime events.

5) Event Date: If the show falls on a particular holiday where entertainment is in higher demand then this would also incur a premium. A New Year’s Eve show, for example, should incur a 10-15% premium.

6) Travel/Lodging Requirements: The time and distance required to travel to and from the show should be factored into the overall price. Expenses such as gas and mileage should be factored in. If the show is more than three hours away, a place to should be included.

EXAMPLE:

A comedian is asked to quote on a clean show on a regular (i.e. not an “event” date such as New Year’s Eve) Tuesday night for three hundred people:

1) Using the baseline of $750, we apply a 33% increase for clean comedy, bringing our baseline to $1,000

2) We then apply another increase based on the size of the audience. At 300 people, it would be another 30% increase, bringing our baseline to $1,300

3) However, if the show is on a Tuesday, we would implement a discount of 10% to account for a non-premium day. This drops our price to $1,170

4) If we like round numbers, we can round up to $1,200/hour

For those comedians who charge HST, add it to the total when presenting the invoice to the client.

Often, there will be more than one comedian on the show. The suggested formula for splitting the money would be to have the person who negotiated the booking for the show take 15% off the top as a fee for procuring the work. A portion of the money would be set aside to cover travel expenses (i.e. gas). The remainder of the money would be divided amongst the comics as a proportion of the time they do compared to the total show length.

So working off the example above:

1) Given $1,200 to start, the booker would take $180 as their procurement fee, leaving $1,020

2) Travel to and from the venue will cost $60 in gas, leaving $960

3) For this particular show, there is a host, middle, and headliner. The host is doing 15 minutes (10 minutes to start and another 5 minutes before the headliner), the middle is doing 15 minutes, and the headliner is doing 30 minutes. This represents a 50/25/25 split which comes out to $240 for the host and middle and $480 for the headliner.

Individual comedians can omit or add other factors as they see fit as these are, again, only guidelines. Hopefully, this will provide some useful guidance to comedians as to the factors they should consider when deciding what to charge.

REMEMBER! THESE WOULD BE RECOMMENDED MINIMUM AMOUNTS

Fundraisers

Often, producers of shows that are put on as fundraisers will ask for in-kind donations of services and it is certainly the prerogative of the comedian to decide if they wish to do so. However, it is important that the fundraisers are made aware of the value being donated. In some cases, it is possible to get a tax receipt directly from the charity for the value of donated services. Ultimately, whether or not a comedian decides to work for free, or at a heavy discount, is an individual decision.

Individuals/Small Companies

There will be times when corporate work are not actually from corporations, but rather from individuals looking to hire a comedian for an event (i.e. birthday, wedding, bachelor party, etc) or very small businesses putting on an event for their employees. While not always the case, individuals and small businesses tend to have less money to spend on comedy than large corporations. When dealing with clients with limited budgets, it may be necessary to apply a lower minimum baseline in order to secure the work. It is important, however, to let the prospective client know what the minimum typically is in order to set expectations for future events. As for how large of a discount to apply, that will depend on the individual comedian as well as the nature of the event/client. We would recommend a reduction from the baseline no greater than 30%.

Deposits

It is generally good practice to charge the client a non-refundable deposit to reserve a specific date. If they cancel then you are at least partially compensated for the theoretical loss of alternate employment.

Club Shows

Club Show rates can vary greatly across a city and the country. CASC aims to maintain a forum for its members on current rates for different club shows. For purposes of these guidelines, comedians should consider these as broad and general guidelines.

Rates will depend on the size of the club, and night of the week, and more importantly, whether you are booked (from lowest to highest) as a guest spot, opener, middle act, host or headliner. Some clubs will have a nightly or weekly rate, or somewhere in between.

HOST

90 minute show

Average: $80
Recommended: $200

GUEST SPOT

5 MINUTES

Average: $10
Recommended: $20

OPENER

8 - 10 minutes

Average: $20
Recommended: $50

MIDDLE ACT

15 - 18 MINUTES

Average: $50
Recommended: $100

HEADLINER

45 MINUTES

Average: $250
Recommended: $400

Festivals

Festivals are an excellent way to reach a wider audience as well as network with industry and fellow comedians. The pay for each varies wildly and is dependent on a number of factors, such as the comedian’s role (host, opener, headliner), whether or not and where (i.e. radio or television) it will be broadcast, and the size and location of the festival.

While it is possible to negotiate with festivals, for most comedians, it is not as much of an option so the following will primarily be a summary of what each festival pays. For the sake of simplicity/accessibility, we are focusing primarily on Canadian festivals.

What to consider

There are many things to consider when getting paid at a festival. Is it a Gala? Is it a showrcase? Will it be recorded and televised? Each come with a different price as you may expect.

In addition to the pay from the festival (which has a very wide range), there is pay for the broadcast which is governed by the agreement between the broadcaster and ACTRA. The rate of pay for the televised portions of a festival are governed by the ACTRA IPA while the non-televised portions pay schedules are solely at the discretion of the festival producers.

HOSTING

HEADLINING

SHOWCASING

TV RECORDING

what to remember

tips & Advice

  • Confirm your fee before the event starts
  • Make sure top show up on time and looking respectable
  • Ask for extra compensation if you have to travel far
  • Respect the time allotted to you
  • Know how you are getting paid. (Cheque, e-transfer, bank, etc)