With recent attendances in decline I decided to reboot Bear Jokes for 2016 with a new day, less events and a more compact line-up. If the first of these shows was anything to go by then moving it from Tuesday to Thursday, taking it to monthly rather than fortnightly and cutting the acts down to eight (with no music spot) was the right thing to do. The night started busy and the show ended with a full room. Happy comedians, happy audience members and happy me.
Cutting down the nights and the number of acts has had the knock-on effect of making me really think about who I'm putting on. It's also ensured I really focus my promotional effort, making use of the likes of MeetUp and local press as well as the usual websites and London-wide media points like Time Out.
In the spirit of making Bear Jokes a proper event rather than a new act workshop I also stopped calling it a free event and opted for "pay-what-you-like". Putting value on live performance (be it comedy, music or drama) is something everyone involved in it should strive for and with a donations model it means there's no door price dissuading casual observers and no door staff to pay! People who've had a good time are often surprisingly generous and even those who give nothing or 50p have contributed to the night by filling the room and adding to the vibe.
There is nothing worse than performing to a cold empty room.
For my part I made more of an effort with the MC part of my role. I kicked off each half with a chat and a rap, rhyming couplets were employed to introduce everyone to the stage, lollipops were thrown into the crowd and at the end everyone assembled was rallied to play a body percussion beat for me to present all the rhyming couplets (now in the past tense) to thank all the performers for their sets.
Viv Groskop (pictured) called it "a really sweet gig" and that pretty much summed it up.