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The Value Of The Comedian

Overview

The main assignment for this week was to map out the concept from start to finish in a service blueprint that included all key customer touch points and the players involved. However, in addition to that assignment, we needed to accomplish some things from last week that we did not successfully run through. We still needed to know pricing and availability for the venues we were interested in, and we needed to connect with the comedians we had in our pipeline to see if they would be interested in participating in our event. We also wanted to test our assumption that these local civic issues could be made funny by co-designing with a comedian and performing in a live show.

Connecting With Comedians

Scott took point on contacting the comedians this week and did a great job of setting up interviews and phone calls to gauge the interest for bringing them on board. Two artists we have been in close contact with lately are Dana: a popular comedian here in Austin, has been doing stand and hosting gigs for several years; and Craig; another well known comedian that not only performs stand but also co-hosts a monthly showcase and a comedy podcast. We are looking to bring both Dana and Craig on board as potential host or comedic acts. Scott managed to connect us with three other comedians this week and we have two interviews setup for next week. In an interview we did Friday night we spoke with a comedian that expressed great interest in the event and wants to be apart of it. We set up a co-design session to go over the service blueprint with him on Monday afternoon.

Co-Designing With Dana

Dana did come into the school to look over our service blueprint of the event and gave us tips on how to optimize it based on her professional experience. An idea that we were thinking around the acts within the show was to have improv or sketch artists come up and perform, as a way to mix it up from just stand up comedy. Dana informed us that this had some drawbacks and among those was the overwhelming fact that because improv artists usually worked in teams, that would mean we would need to pay several improv artists instead of just one comedian.

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We have not yet decided on whether we will include improv or sketch artist into the show but at this point with our current service blueprint we only have a host and four comedians performing.

Goals

Our goal is to find a comedian that can host the show for us and to have at least four comedians that are willing to perform for our first show. We have discussed payment for the comedians and host as a group and at this time we have decided that it is in our and the talent’s best interest to pay them monetarily. We are also currently discussing the possibility of filming the acts for our website, so that could serve as a non-monetary currency for the talent as well since we have learned that many comedians are seeking well produced videos of their segments.

Understanding Their Art

One point that Dana made during our co-designing session that I wanted to mention here was that she is really pushing for comedians to get paid for their work. She told us that many comedians nowadays are eager to get gigs and some are willing to do it for free. The problem is that then it is more difficult for comedians to ask for money to perform their acts and thus it continues this cycle of devaluing the professional. Scott, Maria, and I agree that we need to pay our host and comedians something other than just free beer, or exposure because the comedic talent is something that leverages our business concept.

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We are realizing just how difficult and time-consuming it is to write and perform comedy. We understand that in order to provide value to residents by hosting an event to encourage civic participation we need great comedians that can make our night special and memorable.

Failing To Onboard

The one thing we did not set out to do was successfully convince Dana to help test out our hypothesis that jokes with local civic themes can be funny. After our co-design session we asked her if it was something she would be able to do and she mentioned that it would probably take a lot of work, due to that she would not do it without compensation. We agreed to her suggestion and sent her some information about what she should include in the act. We are still waiting to hear back from her at this point so I might be jumping the gun by saying we did not accomplish this goal, but it has been a few days and we as group are preparing a back up plan to quickly test the assumption in other ways.
 

Mapping Out The Event

This week’s primary assignment was to have a service blueprint of our business concept from start to finish. In our case the concept is an event held at a comedy venue, bar, or brewery.
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Arrival

Customers will get free food with the price of admission and be able to purchase beer and wine at the bar. The event will be civically themed with facilitated interactions pre-show in the forms of videos, conversation cards, civic night hashtag photo mirrors, etc. The show itself will consist of a host, four comedians, and an organization/speaker that introduces and briefly discusses a civic topic (affordable housing, CodeNext, registering to vote, etc.).

Watching The Show

During the acts, customers will sit and listen to the comedians and the host. Only when the speaker is finished giving their lecture will customer have a quick 3-5 minute to ask questions on the topic. Then, after the show ends, the customers have the options to stay and chit chat, leave, or approach the booth(s) that we set up set up with ways to be involved in civic topics. These topics will range from the topic that the speaker will address to broad civic themes like registering to vote.

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Post Show

During the experience we encourage customers to view our website to find out more about how to be involved. We give calls to actions at every touchpoint with our facilitators (coordinators, speakers, greeters) that give customers the push to be civically engaged and provide the website as a safe alternative to biased news-sources. The customer go the website or instagram page after leaving the event and it is there that they become informed and engaged in local politics and community issues in a way that is non-committal, non-biased, and light and fun.

Going To Market

This week we learned the value of our comedians and that it is important that we treat them with the same level of professionalism as you would any artist or specialist. We found new ways to introduce our civic topics into our event using the service blueprint as a sense making tools, and we were able to understand exactly how the event is shaped. However, there are things that we did not accomplish; We still need to test whether this material can be funny. The plan for the coming week is to develop our go to market plan which will consist of the actions and resources we need to acquire in order to make this concept into and actual thing that we put on. Our group is confident that we will be able to put this event on. We are hopeful that this type of event will provide an important starting point for residents of Austin who are otherwise disengaged from their community and government to become civically involved.
Come back next week to read about our go to market plan.