Room For A Laugh by our columnist Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor performing at the Musical Comedy Awards in January 2014. (Picture by John Wilson)
Tom Taylor performing at the Musical Comedy Awards in January 2014. (Picture by John Wilson)

The world of Tom Taylor, promoter of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in So You Think You’re Funny contest at Edinburgh Fringe 2013

As an arts promoter I suffer from three recurrent nightmares:

1. I sell zero tickets.

2. I forget to construct the stage, sound and lighting and only remember when the entire audience have arrived and taken their seats. I am forced to setup with everyone watching me. Inexplicably, I have no clothes on.

3. The artist sends me a Facebook message saying they can’t come.

The first two dreams, though harrowing, can be managed in waking hours. To avoid nightmare one, never stop promoting.

The response rate to flyering is somewhere between 0.5 and 1%. How do you increase the success of flyering?

Distribute more flyers. Much to my chagrin, promotion is not simply the creation of a Facebook event and the plastering of a few Microsoft Publisher posters above urinals. I might put that on a t-shirt.

Nightmare two. I always keep a spare pair of clothes in my gig bag.

Nightmare three is completely out of your control. Accidents happen and things crop up. On top of that, we’re not dealing with normal people here, these are artists.

I once booked an Irish comic for a show in York. A week before the event, he sent me an email to confirm his stage time (8pm) and to let me know his plane arrived in Gatwick at 6.30pm, how long would it take him to get from the airport to the venue?

On another occasion, someone dropped out because they were making jam during the day and couldn’t guarantee they’d be finished in time.

One man pulled out because he had to go shopping with his girlfriend.

Apparently she was really quite annoyed at how often he was out of the house on an evening. He said he was sure I would understand. I didn’t.

On Sunday I had the pleasure of hearing the Benyounes String Quartet perform as part of Harrogate International Festivals’ Spring Concert Series.

Their appearance was the product of a high pressure day of phone calls after the advertised Navarra Quartet tweeted their cancellation at noon on the Saturday.

This is like Die Hard for arts administrators.

On the Sunday morning, it was revealed violinist Magnus Johnston had severely injured his wrist after tripping over his cat whilst trying to save it.

Obviously my thoughts go out to Marcus but this cancellation has duly cemented itself at the top of my excuses list and, I think, for its sheer misplaced heroism will take some dislodging.

l Sitting Room Comedy Club returns on Wednesday, March 12 with headliner Tom Stade (Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Mock the Week), Sean Meo (Have I Got News for You), Liam Williams and Aisling Bea (both Edinburgh Comedy Awards Best Newcomers nominees).

Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails