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This page was last updated on October 23, 2016.

Information for standup comedians who are staying in Tokyo

This page has all the information you need if you are going to be staying in Tokyo a while and performing with us regularly. If you are just going to be here a short time, click here . If you want to come to Tokyo to do a special headliner show, click here .

Where do I sign up for shows?

There is an online form on this website where shows that are currently taking bookings are listed, and all you have to do is click to select the shows you want to perform at, and then wait for the show line ups to be announced. Easy as that.

So how do I access the booking request form?

You have to be on the mailing list. Once a month, a booking request reminder is sent out with a link to the booking request form. The link has a code in it which gives you access. This is mostly an anti-spam thing, because otherwise an unrestricted form on a web page would get beaten to death by hackers and bots.

Okay, so where do I get on the mailing list?

Here.

Make sure you're cool with everything outlined on this page before signing up, though. We assume you've read and agreed to everything here, and on the website in general.

Fine, I'll read through all this bullshit.

Thank you.

So if I sign up, I get to perform?

Not automatically, no. We try to spread out opportunities to perform fairly among all performers, and get new performers into the rotation soon. However, a lot of factors go into deciding the line ups, all of which have to do with trying to make the best shows possible and sustaining our group in the long term. The main point is that if you do not get selected to perform, do not take it personally. If you are not booked for a show you signed up for, the reasons almost certainly have to do with a lot of factors, none of which are directed at you specifically.

Does it matter when I sign up?

As long as you sign up before the bookings are closed, it doesn't really matter when you do it. Time is given to allow everyone time to check their schedules and respond. Don't rush, it's more important you confirm your schedule so that if you request a booking at a show, you can commit to it, and not have to cancel later.

How will I know if I'm performing?

When line ups for upcoming shows are decided, they're posted to this page . If you are in the line up for any of the listed shows, then you are performing. Simple as that. An email goes out to the list letting you know when that page has been updated with new line ups.

When are bookings handled?

Generally speaking, booking for one calendar month is handled in the last weeks of the previous calendar month. So, just for example, the bookings for February will be handled sometime in the last week or two of January. Note that the timing of when bookings are handled will vary depending on things like holidays or how busy people are.

Hey! I signed up, but I didn't get a chance to make a booking before the line ups were decided!

Depending on when you sign up to the list, you may miss the first booking request mail, or not see any mail for a while. Sometimes if your timing is really bad, you might have just missed the booking request notice, and you have to wait until the next round of bookings. It's unfortunate, but deadlines have to be set somewhere.

What if I am unsure of my schedule, but I want to perform? Should I sign up for a show I want to perform at just in case?

Only request a spot at a show if you are reasonably certain you can and will come to perform. Do not request a spot if you have any uncertainty. Consistently signing up but then cancelling will result in being excluded from bookings.

Should I let you know that I won't be coming?

Yes, definitely. If you have been assigned a spot in a line up for a show, but for reasons beyond your control have to cancel, then please let us know as soon as possible. There are many other people who would like that spot.

If I didn't see my name in the line ups, how can I be sure my request to perform was received?

If you are in doubt, the best thing to do is email and ask. However, please be aware that it is often the case that because of the limited availability of slots, you might simply not have received a performance opportunity for that month. Never assume that you were specifically excluded from a show. It's never personal.

Are there any other emails or information?

As a member of the standup mailing list, we consider you part of our little world of standups, and so you'll also get information relevant to performing comedy in Tokyo, such as changes in our policies, special events, or other notifications. However, we do not share your contact information with anyone else, ever. All the mails will come only from us and will strictly be relevant to the comedy scene in Tokyo.

Can I ask for stage time in person, by phone, or any way outside of the online booking system?

No.

All booking requests must be made using the online system. Not only can any communication outside the system be lost or forgotten, or disagreements over exactly what was said can occur, but organizing our shows in advance is part of how we ensure shows run smoothly and meet our quality standards.

Is it absolutely impossible to get stage time if I just show up?

Ideally, all booking is handled well in advance of the show. However, last minute cancellations and other changes are always possible, and so there may be performance opportunities that open up. You are free to come to a show and see if something has opened up, but you will only be given a spot if all of the following conditions are met:

1. You understand that there may not be any spots available, and that you may be turned down for any reason at all, and that those reasons will not be explained to you. Often there are many factors in determining the length of the show and who performs, and those factors may not be readily apparent to you. Don't take it personally.

2. You will not hassle the show organizer, or get your friends to hassle the show organizer on your behalf. It is perfectly acceptable to ask, but it is not acceptable to argue the answer. In extreme cases, persistent badgering may negatively impact your opportunity for ever performing with us.

3. You understand that if we do not give you stage time that night, it is not an assessment of you or your potential to be funny. The decisions that go into how to allocate stage time to get the best show possible almost certainly has has nothing to do with you, so do not ever take it personally.

How do I get more stage time?

The Tokyo Comedy Store has only two levels of performers. "Open mikes", who are the people just starting out and who get limited stage time, and "regular performers", usually just called "regulars", who are comedians that have demonstrated a reliable ability to get audiences to laugh under a variety of conditions. Open mikes are only offered 3 minute spots that are designated for experimentation and testing new performers. Regulars are given longer time slots and are sometimes paid for their performances, and considered for private show bookings.

You must perform as an open mike until such a time as you demonstrate the potential to consistently make audiences laugh, at which time you will be promoted to be a regular.

When and where do open mikes perform?

We currently have two shows a month at Double Tall Cafe in Shibuya called New Material Night . As well as being a place where comedians of all levels try out new, untested, and experimental material, it is also our "open mike night".

All comedians who have not performed with us before must perform at our New Material Night for the first time. You will not be considered for any other performance until you've been seen on stage at least once at this show.

Are there any additional requirements for getting stage time beyond signing up and being funny?

No.

There is no fee to our group for performing (though at some you might have to buy a drink at the venue), there is no minimum number of audience you need to bring, no waiting list or time you must wait before being offered stage time, nor any other requirement.

Can a performer with experience elsewhere bypass being an open mike and get more stage time from the start?

Yes.

If you are an experienced comedian then we will consider you for more stage time without requiring that you perform as an open mike first. Recommendations from other comedians who are known to us, or videos demonstrating your ability, or other evidence of your ability may be requested. Please understand, though, that we reserve the right to book you for any length of time, or not book you at all, no matter how well established or talented you believe yourself to be. Do not take it as an assessment of you, it is an assessment of what our audience is looking for, and the needs of our show and the long term goals of our group.

How do you determine when someone is ready to be promoted from open mike to a regular comedian?

Different show organizers may offer more time to any performer, open mike or regular performer, at any show for any reason. Whether or not you are an "open mike" or "regular" often depends on context and show needs. The more you start performing longer sets, the more you are considered a "regular" performer. There's really no hard and fast rule, just try to be as funny as possible, and talk to show organizers if you feel that maybe you are ready for more stage time. If you want to open up the discussion on how much stage time you should be getting, be prepared for a very direct and honest asssessment of your abilities.

Which shows can I perform at?

At any one time, the Tokyo Comedy Store runs a few different shows with different styles and approached. We also have a whole improv side that does shows without any standup at all. However, to know which shows you can perform at and which you can't is simple. When you are sent the link to the booking request form, you will see which shows are taking standups. If a show is on that list, you can apply to perform. If a show is not in that booking request list, it is not taking standups. You may sometimes see shows on our schedule, but aren't in the booking request list, but that simply means that for whatever reason, that show is not taking standups. Maybe the show never features standups, maybe they've already been decided. Who knows, man.

If I'm performing, when do I need to be at the show?

If your name is on the list of performers for a show, please come at least 15 minutes before a show and find the show organizer to say you are there and ready to go. Especially if it's your first time performing. You will be deemed late to a performance if you are not there by 5 minutes before the scheduled start of the show. Lateness is measured in relation to when the show starts, not to when you are scheduled to perform. Also note that while the actual show start time might be delayed, it is the scheduled start time by which lateness is measured. So if the show is scheduled to start at 9, but does not actually begin until 9:10, you will still be considered late if you show up after 8:55.

If you are late, you lose your spot! This is very important: if you are late, your spot becomes automatically eligible for cancellation or being offered to another performer.

You are welcome to ask if you can still perform, but do not argue if the answer is no. You are not being punished for being late, it's just that the performance order and show length can be affected by many factors, and once the show starts, we don't want to be renegotiating and reconsidering anything. Once the show gets going, everyone, including the show organizer, wants to devote the entirety of their attention to their performance. Please respect that by acknowledging that the only way to ensure your stage time is held for you is to be on time.

Please also note that if you email or phone in advance to say that you are running late, that is much appreciated and we will try to work with you to keep your time. But, advance notice will not guarantee your space is held. Please be aware that your message might not even get seen, as the show organizer will likely be dealing with other things as the show start time approaches.

Habitual lateness might have an impact on whether or not you are considered to be promoted from open mike status, or bookings for future shows.

Do I have any other obligations while being at the show?

Yes. The main thing is that you need to respect other performers time on stage. This very much includes the emcee of the show whose job it is to try and set up the audience and get them focused for when you get on stage.

Although we greatly appreciate it if you laugh with the audience and help create a positive vibe for the show, you are not obligated to force yourself to enjoy the show. You don't have to enjoy their acts, you don't have to laugh, you don't have to even be in the room when others are performing if you don't want.

However, to the degree that your behaviour might impact other people's performances, do not do anything that will mess with anyone else's performance. Do not speak loudly with your friends while others are performing, or while the emcee is working the crowd. Do not call the wait staff to your table or walk around in front of the stage yourself in anyway that blocks the audience's view. Don't do anything that you wouldn't want people doing while you are performing. Above all else, do not heckle or in any similar way draw attention to yourself and away from the on stage performer. Save your attention whoring for when it's your time on stage.

In some cases it may be permissible to heckle if you are absolutely, totally, 100% sure that you have a relationship with the on-stage performer that allows for that kind of interaction, and that the on-stage performer would welcome your commentary. But you must be absolutely sure of it. If you have any doubt in your mind whatsoever about whether or not you should call out any kind of commentary, supportive or not, to the performer, then do not do it.

If you are in a show, then you are also a part of the show, for the whole duration while it is on. As such, your off-stage behaviour should ideally support the show, or at the very least not disrupt it. Please be aware that if your off stage behaviour negatively impacts the show, it may result in less stage time, or being removed from the group entirely.

What kind of material can I do?

The Tokyo Comedy Store imposes no limits whatsoever on what kind of material you do. We take it for granted that our audience are all met all legal age requirements to be in our venues, and they have made the choice to accept whatever content is in the show.

You can do whatever you want, so long as you stay within two simple rules.

One is that your goal is to make the audience laugh. We are the Tokyo Comedy Store, not the Tokyo Pathos Store. You can do political humour, but not make political speeches. You can do poetic comedy, but not poetry. You can sing funny songs, but not simply perform music. As long as your goal is laughter, you can do what you want.

You can be as "blue" as you want, or as intellectual, or do puns, or use physical humour... just be true to your own sense of humour and try to be as funny as possible. Our audiences tend to appreciate a wide variety of styles so there are no limits.

The other rule is that you stay within your time. Going over time for whatever reason is very likely to result in not being asked to perform again. Given that we're so flexible about everything else, it should be no problem to at least abide by this.

What kind of material should I do?

Even though we do not have a rule about what kind of comedy you can do, performers contacting us for the first time often ask what kind of material they should do. Do audiences in Tokyo like "blue" material, or are there topics of any kind that one should avoid?

Our audiences vary in composition from show to show, which is both the beauty and difficulty of performing in Tokyo. One night might be all Australians, the next might be half Americans and half British, and the next night might mostly be English speaking Japanese. Because of this, as a rule of thumb, references that are overly specific to one country culture are not advisable. People around the world might know the name of this or that politician from the US, but that doesn't mean they care enough to laugh at a joke about that person. The three Americans in the room might laugh, but the rest just shrug.

Beyond that, you will simply have to try and see what works. No one can say what an audience will enjoy except the audience itself.

Can I negotiate for extra stage time if I do something of value for the show?

Yes!

If you will do something for the show that will help bring in future audiences, or if you help out with the organization of the show, or in some way positively contribute to the Tokyo Comedy Store as an organization, then we can arrange for you to have more performance time. How much you are a helpful person off-stage will definitely factor positively in determining time on-stage. Outright bribery is also acceptable.

Positive contributions include finding new venues for shows , bringing in press who will spread the word about our shows, hooking us up with private gigs, taking care of promotion in some social media, introducing us to international performers and groups that we can work with, and more. There is no limit to what can potentially help us, so feel free to get in touch and make suggestions.

How much stage time you get in return, and whether it's for just one show or on a continued basis, and all other details, will be determined case by case.

Note that the only consideration that determines whether or not more stage time will be granted is if what you are offering improves the shows or helps the group. How much it helps you as an individual comedian is not a consideration. So if you are just inviting a bunch of friends who will come mainly just to cheer you on and then never come again, or you want to tape yourself for submission to a festival or something that you will perform at, or you just want one last big performance before leaving Tokyo, or similar offers probably won't make any impact. If you want to increase your stage time for your benefit, then also find a way that it benefits us, and we'll all get along great.

What if I'd like to set up my own show and do things my own way?

We would be happy to have you set up shows and create more opportunities to for people to perform! Even if you want your show to be a separate entity from the Tokyo Comedy Store.T

The key to everything is to communicate with us well in advance and as you progress toward setting up a show. That way we can avoid accidentally setting shows up that compete with each other or conflict in any way. We would love to support your efforts and work with you, and the only way to ensure that is to keep lines of communication open, and be transparent with each other about our intentions before we get into any situations that are hard to back out of.

Do you perform in Japanese?

Some of our performers who perform in English also perform in Japanese, in various ways and contexts. If you are interested in performing in Japanese, please contact us , and we might be able to put you in touch with someone who can help find you some stage time. However, please be aware that the Tokyo Comedy Store as a brand and a group, strictly performs in English. All Japanese efforts are set up through separate groups that we happily support, but don't put our name to.

What if any of this is unclear, or I would like to dispute a point, or request some change to these policies?

Clarifications, opinions, and suggestions are always welcome. Our shows are always evolving, and while these guidelines represent our best effort to meet our current conditions, we are always open to making changes that could benefit our shows and improve our audiences in the future.

However, please keep the following points in mind when contacting us:

One is that, as mentioned, ultimately the show organizers want to perform and socialize, and not get bogged down in show management issues. Managing shows is a necessary evil that has to happen, but no one is thrilled about doing it, and no one is getting paid any compensation for the required effort. Please be polite, professional, and considerate of the fact that you are dealing with volunteers.

The other point is that the shows are the worst possible time to raise issues. Yes, a show is the one time and place you can be guaranteed to have personal contact with a show organizer, but that show organizer is there to perform and socialize, and dealing with show management detracts from their ability to perform and makes socializing less fun. Since socializing is one of the few upsides to doing all the work of organizing the shows, killing that social vibe negates the whole point of doing it. So, If you have a point to make, please do so by email, and if it's a large issue requiring a face to face interaction, a time will be scheduled to handle that.

Also, do not try to be funny when discussing show management issues. Sometimes people get the idea that because this is a comedy group, that we expect or want all interactions to be funny or zany or wacky. But actually, being funny when we're just trying to work out schedules or policies can make communication less clear and more time consuming. Not that you can't have any humour in our commincations, just that you need to make sure that clarity is your primary concern, and any jokes won't confuse the message. We adhere to that same standard when we communicate with you.

What if I see that a show organizer has done something differently than what's on this page?

The show organizers have the right to over ride any of the guidelines on this page at any time. The ultimage goal is to create the best show possible, and at any time, circumstances may support deviating from any of these rules in order to make that happen. The show organizer may also be dealing with other issues, such as forced terms from a venue, or quid pro quo negotiations with a performer, or to create a more enjoyable social scene, or any one of a number of reasons. The reason why a show organizer decides to unilaterally impose some change may not be clear and might not ever be fully explained to you, but please understand that our show organizers are only trying to make the most successful shows possible with the least friction possible. No one is trying to enact any decisions directed at you personally.

Thank you for reading this page, and we look forward to seeing you perform!

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