Dating is a mess, no matter what country you're in.
Many people who end a really bad relationship go to therapy, but Rachman Blake used the business of standup comedy to heal the wounds of his four-year relationship ending.
At the time, he was recruiting software engineers, or as he likes to say, "cloud pimping." It was a lucrative job, but unfulfilling. What he really wanted was to travel the world as a performer, but that always felt like a pipe dream. Performing on tour for a living--whether in comedy, as an actor, DJ, or any other artistic role--usually means getting an agent to manage the details, not to mention an existing fan base in various cities around the globe.
But one night, tired of the same routine, he decided to try stand-up comedy at his local laundromat.
"I watched a bunch of comics just get up there and rant. I figured I could do that. It's just three minutes. If I bomb. I'll just finish my laundry like it never happened," says Blake.
"So I put my name on the list, went up there, complained about my relationship and how I hate my job of whoring out young 22-year old engineers like a 'cloud pimp.' I [only] got a few polite laughs, but I was fully hooked," he adds, chuckling.
Now he's following his true dreams of traveling and performing, doing a world comedy tour in 23 countries. All of this is happening without an agent or massive Youtube following.
So how did this entrepreneur go from recruiter to globetrotting comedian? Rachman Blake shares his five tips on how he did it, and how you can use the same advice to produce smash-hit events anywhere in the world, without an agent:
1. Test your market with Facebook ads.
Rachman loves performing live comedy because, in today's digital world, the art of enjoying real life is dying. His show, Story Party, is all about putting away phones to enjoy a laugh about the single life. The show's host, "Natasha BikiniOFF," loves to start the show by getting the audience to put their phones away and cracking a few jokes about the ironies of online dating.
"We had a proven show in San Francisco, but [then] I wanted to travel the world," says Blake. "I found my first audience members with Facebook ads tests. I recommend starting with $5 per day ad budget and a simple description of your event."
He adds that nearly every country has a large enough English-speaking population and potential market to make the ads worthwhile. The next step, if there's enough interest in a particular market, is to get the venue.
2. Find and book a venue.
This is the most difficult aspect of tour planning. For most, securing a venue can seem daunting, intimidating, and expensive, particularly if you're not already familiar with the city.
But this step doesn't have to be as painful as an agent would like you to believe. Blake shared some handy workarounds with me that anyone can try: "We always first ask a friend for recommendations. Then we try to find a local comedy producer. Many local promoters were very helpful (but many were not). But that shouldn't stop you."
Use Facebook to ask friends if they know contacts in various cities. Look for a variety of venues. Blake cites nightclubs, co-working spaces, and theaters as his favorite places to play.
3. Perform where there's less competition.
"One of benefits of being global is you can go to where you'll be celebrated and not just tolerated," Blake says, a big grin on his face. His crew's first international gig was in Bucharest, Romania. To find it, he just googled "stand-up comedy Romania," and although he didn't get many results, his research helped him learn that the country has millions of English speakers. That show ended up being one of the funnest and most exciting shows Blake had ever done. In contrast, shows in New York City have actually been less profitable due to competition. The lesson? Going against the grain is much more likely to be rewarding.
4. Always control your own ticket sales.
Blake is often asked, "Who is booking this for you? An agent? A tour manager?" They are always surprised to learn that Blake's shows are 100 percent self-produced. "Agents and bookers are wonderful people, but most take a percentage that is way too high," remarks Blake.
Instead, he recommends using ticketing platforms like Eventbrite, or his favorite, Tito. These platforms make it easy to sell tickets online anywhere in the world, and they don't take a huge cut from sales. I've heard of everything from tech conferences to traveling plays taking this route for tickets, so if you're trying to stick to a budget, this option is a no-brainer.
5. Stay healthy.
Blake is borderline obsessed with health, but there's a good reason for that. "It's hard to recover from sickness on tour," he says. "It's better to prevent it. Exercise is the only way I can sustain a long touring. It solves nearly every problem."
Blake goes on to tell me about his "tour routine," explaining that after he checks into an Airbnb, one of the first things he does is "hit the gym and spa. If I sound like a diva, that's because I am. The sauna, steam room, cold plunge will make your soul sing like Beyonce."