Funny Stuff – Comedy Can be Serious for MI Retail

by Dan Daley • in
  • April 2018
  • Last Word
• Created: April 9, 2018

Share This:

How many people in your band? Five – four musicians and a drummer. How do you get a drummer off of your porch? Pay him 10 bucks for the pizza. What do you say to a drummer in a three-piece suit? “Will the defendant please rise?”

Drummer jokes have been with us since cavemen put two sticks together (and if that’s not a setup for another punch line I don’t know what is). But the irony is that most one-liners like that benefit from the badda-bing of a lounge drummer who didn’t get to go to the bar for a beer while the MC was delivering desperate comedy before the show starts. Comedy and drums simply go together, elegantly or otherwise.

Fred Armisen, an SNL alumnus and the deadpan straight man of the irony-laden IFC series “Portlandia,” very recently finally put the two together in a slapdash documentary.

His Netflix special, “Standup For Drummers,” is a sly nod to the For Dummies how-to book series, a reminder that to get the joke you have to be one of us, and a dog whistle for percussionists weary of being the butt of way too many gags.

But comedy and music – drums and otherwise – also go together well at retail, too. Scan the wasteland of the internet and you’ll find hundreds of forums and articles that advise comedians, aspiring and otherwise, about how to pick the best microphones for their style of comedy. I once interviewed the front of house mixer for Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, the antic Hispanic jokester who made $9.5 million lampooning his own porculence, according to Forbes’ 2015 ranking of media and entertainment earners. I was surprised how much went into the process of mixing one person on stage – how quickly the mic can flip towards the audience, creating howls of feedback instead of laughter; the physical impact of jamming a microphone virtually down a throat in search of a rude sound effect; and of course, what happens during a triumphant mic drop.

Any MI retailer who can answer those questions will make a customer for life, in what Billboard estimated has become a $300 million industry annually. You don’t even need to carry a full line of pro audio equipment, just the microphones and stands. Oh, and mic adaptors – the small but critical plastic pieces that break with alarming but predictable regularity on amateur nights. They are to comedy microphones what strings are to guitars – recurring revenue. Interestingly, many comedians prefer wired microphones – World Music Nashville store manager Corey Terrell says Shure’s SM57s and SM58s are the overwhelming mic of choice for stand up – because they give them something to do with their other hand, and because it’s one more way to catch the mic before it hits the floor. (In fact, comedy club owners would prefer that comedians not touch the microphones at all.)

Like musicians, comedians are paying far more attention to how they sound these days. Console manufacturer Digico is putting them in press releases; they trade advice on which handheld recorders will best capture their performances for later dissection at the bar; a leading Pro Tools blog goes into the same level of detail about miking a club room for laughter as another might for, well, miking a drum kit. Microphones, stands, adaptors, mixers, PA systems, monitors – and let’s not forget musicians from Steve Martin and his banjo and the Henny Youngman and his violin to Adam Sandler (guitar, sort of) and Judy Tenuta (accordion, which is its own punch line) who bring their axes on stage with them – everything they need is already in almost every MI retail store, except the rubber chickens. These are relationships just waiting to be cultivated.

For MI retailers who are moving tentatively into AV systems installation – putting sound systems in music venues, for instance – the boom in comedy clubs could be manna from heaven. Data-cruncher Statista contends that number of people who visited comedy clubs within the last 12 months went from 14 million in 2008 to over 18 million last year. For stores with performance areas, an otherwise dark night is easily turned into an opportunity for an amateur stand-up night.

Tens of thousands of comedians and hundreds of comedy clubs, and they all need microphones, at the very least. The first store in each market to reach out to them wins. Badda-BOOM!

Share This:

Leave a Comment:

Check Out Some Past MMR Magazine Issues