What is the ‘Producer Spotlight’ Series?
Over the past few years I’ve learned that Toronto has all the ingredients necessary to produce amazingly successful comedy shows! Our city has an abundance of high-level comedic talent, a surplus of gorgeous venues that often go unused, and most importantly an incredibly diverse audience of comedy fans who are enormously supportive of live shows and local talent! This combination of factors is incredibly rare and we should absolutely be taking advantage of everything this city has to offer.
I’m absolutely ready (and honestly itching!) to share all my knowledge of best practices, do’s and don’ts so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes that I did. By supporting local producers and helping to launch more large-scale theatre shows, the entire comedy community benefits. Larger venues leads to higher ticket prices and profits, allowing producers to fairly compensate Canadian talent and help to end the narrative that Canadians need to head to the United States to make a living.
The ‘Producer Spotlight’ series aims to elevate Toronto’s best comedy shows by arming our brightest producers with the knowledge, training and connections necessary to take their shows to the next level and sell out larger and more prestigious theatre venues. Mentorship will cover everything from producing and marketing a live show, garnering press coverage, how to sell out a larger venues, capturing video and audio footage for post-production (when applicable)… and everything in between.
Comedy Productions Consulting (AKA Free Advice!)
First step when I meet a producer is to go to one of their live shows and then sit down afterward to give feedback based on what their goals are with the show. Even outside of the ‘Producer Spotlight’ series, giving feedback to new producers is something I love to do, so don’t be afraid to reach out (or fill out the form below) and let me know when your next live show is that you’d like feedback on.
Co-Productions at Rivoli
Up to 12 producers per year (one show monthly) will be selected to be the featured ‘Producer Spotlight’ show at the iconic Rivoli. This historic venue is famously the home of ‘Kids in the Hall’ and features an elevated stage and amazing sound and lighting system. Let’s be honest here… the Rivoli is a great music venue and the requirements for lighting and sound in musical performances far exceed that of comedy performances, so there’s really nothing you could imagine you’d need to produce an excellent comedy show here that wouldn’t be technically feasible. Sight lines are great for both the audience and the performers and the room is perfectly set up to place up to five video cameras for multi-cam footage capture.
Co-productions at Rivoli would be a true 50/50 partnership including all costs (marketing, PR, production) and profits being split evenly. Ticket sales would be through the Universe online ticketing platform with full access for all producers to the backend data and live dashboard. Target capacity would be 80-100 seats at $20+ per ticket, although this would be adjusted based on the show.
While the initial show would have lower profit margins due to the 50/50 partnership, the idea is for the featured producer to gain the knowledge and connections to produce future shows successfully at the venue in the future. There would be a minimum target to meet to cover venue costs if we don’t meet the bar sales targets for the night (this is based on how the deal with the venue is set up and is pretty standard for music venues serving alcohol).
Please note that video and audio capture component would need to be negotiated above and beyond the standard partnership and only in cases where the show concept makes sense for post-production. Shows featured at the Rivoli are less likely to require this component compared to shows featured at Paradise Theatre.
Co-Productions at Paradise Theatre
Up to four productions per year (one show per quarter) will be selected to be the featured ‘Producer Spotlight’ show at the newly renovated Paradise Theatre. Generally, the Paradise Theatre selection will be made from the best performing of the Rivoli productions that show the most potential for a larger audience.
Co-productions at Paradise Theatre would be a true 50/50 partnership including all costs (marketing, PR, production) and profits being split evenly. Ticket sales would be through the Eventbrite online ticketing platform including full seat selection and venue map. Full access for all producers to the backend data and live dashboard will be provided. Target capacity is 180-220 seats at ticket prices ranging from $25 to $50 based on location in the venue (front rows, balcony, accessible seating etc.).
While the initial show would have lower profit margins due to the 50/50 partnership, the idea is for the featured producer to gain the knowledge and connections to produce future shows successfully at the venue in the future. There would be a minimum goal of 50% tickets sold set out that the featured producer would be responsible for should we fail to meet our seat sales goals (this is to ensure there is enough funds to cover the venue costs).
Please note that video and audio capture component would need to be negotiated above and beyond the standard partnership and only in cases where the show concept makes sense for post-production. In general, shows selected for Paradise Theatre would be concepts that are more likely to be desirable for post-production. With the inclusion of a balcony, Paradise Theatre is perfectly set up for multi-cam video and audio capture using roughly 9 cameras.
There are a lot of factors for selecting which shows will be a part of the ‘Producer Spotlight’ series outlined below (please read through carefully). There are also some intangible factors as well such as which, and sometimes it comes down to which producers can best convey genuine excitement for their show and inspire people to want to work with them.
- Most important factor is having the best show ideas that would be most suitable for the venues and their capacity (Rivoli target capacity 80-100, Paradise Theatre target capacity 180-220)
- Track record as a producer including discussion about previous shows produced, ticket sales track record, and venues used for past shows
- How well the show idea relates to the producer (does it make sense that this would be the producer to bring this particular idea to life) and how the idea was conceived and the story behind the idea
- Ability of showrunner to articulate their ideas and convey their genuine passion for the show (extremely important to garner press coverage and general buzz leading up to the show)
- Potential of the show idea for post-production video and audio
Shining a Spotlight on Canadian Comedy Shows
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my background as a media executive prior to becoming a comedian, it’s how to properly amplify Canadian comedy shows to get the spotlight it deserves. Full media and communications strategies will be deployed leading up to the live show.
Past shows have included full television coverage on programs including CBC The National, CTV The Social, OMNI Television and most noteworthy was being the full 8-minute lead story segment on CBC Our Toronto and being profiled in-studio back at Glenn Gould Studio for a story CBC News Toronto. Radio coverage has included CBC Metro Morning and CBC Fresh Air.
Print and web coverage has included full multi-page spreads in National Post and a profiles in NOW! Toronto, CBC Comedy and even critics reviews from outlets that generally only cover live theatre such as Mooney on Theatre.
Past partnerships have also amplified comedians appearance on my shows to full billboards at Yonge-Dundas Square and takeovers of BlogTO. So basically I’m saying if you’re on the show get ready to be heavily promoted (although it is important to say that press coverage is never guaranteed in any project).
Filming and Production (Multi-Cam Video and Audio)
For select projects where the live show featured on ‘Producer Spotlight’ has the potential to be developed into a video (network television, streaming services, film festivals) or audio (albums) product, there is the option of capturing the the footage in partnership with Studio Vong production company. This will only be for projects that make sense as not all live shows are proper for development into a video or audio product. Please note this component is absolutely not a requirement of the ‘Producer Spotlight’ series.