Want A Great Economic Barometer? Look No Further Than The Comedy Business

Zinger Key Points
  • 'A lot of corporate companies are still booking comedians,' says Jason Douglas, founder of The Comedian Company.
  • 'More and more customers are going to ask to pay in Bitcoin.'
Want A Great Economic Barometer? Look No Further Than The Comedy Business

Fundamentally, many would argue that the economy is headed for a recession. How deep, however, is that which is up for more debate, usually.

However, there are some pockets of the economy that would completely disagree.

To get a pulse on why that is, Benzinga spoke with Jason Douglas, the founder of The Comedian Company, which continues to see growth in bookings, a sign that all may be well in the economy, for now.

The following text was edited for clarity and concision.

Benzinga: Hey Jason, nice to meet you. Want to kick it off with an introduction?

Jason Douglas: I started this company about 20 years ago. At the outset, we bought up a lot of domain names and became lucky, there, showing up on the top of Google GOOGL. Through this, the company grew organically.

Later, after booking comedians into comedy and nightclubs, I realized corporate money is where it's at, and it's way easier to book.

So, now, we focus on corporate comedians for the most part, and we're a national company. We have about 1,500 comedians including some celebrities.

You were recently in the spotlight for leveraging crypto in comedian bookings. Can you talk more about that?

Over the last year, I had several people that wanted to pay with crypto. Eventually, we signed up with Coinbase Global Inc. COIN, which was really simple.

While we haven't had corporate customers paying with crypto, we've had several private parties. I aim to, eventually, pay the comedians in crypto as well.

Is the comedy business a good barometer of the economy?

Ultimately, we book stand-up comedians. That’s our focus. Additionally, I always felt that comedy was a good barometer of the economy because, when the economy is really good, people are booking lots of comedians because there's a lot of money in the system.

Which, on a side note, everybody says we're in a recession. However, our numbers are strong, which makes me think there's still a lot of money in the system as a lot of corporate companies are still booking comedians.

What’s your busiest season and what was it like during 2008?

Our busiest season is Christmas. Separately, December 2008 was a bloodbath for us. I mean, that was right when the Great Recession was happening, and we got wiped out.

We generally make about 30% of our income for the year over three weeks in December. And when you're laying off people, and there's a huge recession, and tons of foreclosures, you're not having a big party for your staff.

You did thousands of shows over the pandemic, virtually, right? How much do you charge for something like that?

There is definitely a large discount. You're getting a comedian with two or three late-night TV show credits for under $500, where normally, you'd have to pay that person up to $3,000.

How do you actually make money?

We have about 1,500 comedians who all agreed they want to work with us.

When a customer comes to us and looks for some entertainment for an event, we go through our list and send them maybe ten great options of comedians. They pick one, then we get a percentage of whatever the show is. That is generally about 20%. When we take in the full amount and then we disburse the money to the talent.

Where do you see the whole crypto endeavor heading?

I think more and more customers are going to ask to pay in Bitcoin BTC/USD, as I think a lot of people who have maybe a small amount of Bitcoin and want to get rid of it.

Over the next year, what’s your focus?

In spite of the likely economic unrest, which may bring our profit margins down, my goal is to keep our comedians working as much as possible. We're really able to work with customers' budgets. If they're reaching out to us, we're going to find a way to get them the right comedians and we'll see how long this takes.

Who is your number one competitor?

It’s the cruise ship industry. They have deep pockets and they’ll take all of our really good comedians and put them on boats for eight weeks.

Image: Courtesy of Pixabay

Posted In: Jason DouglasThe Comedian CompanyInterview