Sapan Verma on free gigs at college festivals

Do it for free na please?
Sapan Verma. Picture Courtesy: Eventshigh.com

Dear college students,

The festival season has begun, which means a lot of you are going to be contacting a lot of comedians to perform in your college. As excited as I’m sure we all are, it’s about time someone tells you this:

Please stop inviting comedians (or even musicians) to perform and offer ‘exposure’ in return. This is a full-time job for most of us and not a hobby.

Don’t use words like pro-bono or FoC to sugarcoat it.

Don’t bargain with me for five thousand rupees when the next day you’ve booked a mainstream Bollywood singer who you’re willing to pay 25 lakhs. It’s not even sad, it’s just embarrassing.

Don’t make requests like, “Ok don’t do an hour just do 20 minutes for free please!” It’s not about those twenty minutes. It’s about those (almost) ten years I’ve spent writing, struggling, practicing, failing and working my ass off to get to this place.

Don’t say things like, “Do one free show no! What’s the harm?”

We do enough charity gigs to raise money for things that matter when it’s needed.

Don’t offer stupid things as a ‘barter deal’. One college sent a proper list – “We promise social media mileage for you. 200 Twitter followers, 500 Likes on your FB page and Instagram.” Now before you send such ridiculous e-mails, please ask yourself just this one question – “Can the person buy food or pay their house rent using what I am offering?”

If the answer is no – delete that mail, burn your laptop, and format your brain.

Because here’s the problem – Unfortunately, comedians have to pay for food, rent, clothes, travel and other stuff that you know, normal people have to pay for. The day this universe starts accepting jokes instead of money, I’ll do a free show.

I understand that there are budget constraints and organising a fest is a mammoth task. But as someone who has organised college fests, teaches in a college and does a dozen college shows a year, I know what kind of budgets and scale college fests are at right now.

I absolutely *love* doing college shows. They’re undoubtedly the best shows one could ever ask for! Young, happy and extremely supportive crowd, free from all the negativity and prejudice the world has to offer. But I also love money and this is the only job that I do in order to make it. 🙂

Rant over.

Oh also – I have a full-time job for you after you graduate. No salary, no income but you’ll get exposure and 200 Twitter followers. Do it for free na please? 🙂


Originally posted on Sapan’s Facebook page.

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