We’ve been lucky to be featured this year on a few lists of comedy organizations that pay their performers. After a little more than a quarter in business, we wanted to show you how we made good on that promise.
We opened for our first weekend of shows on September 10, 2021. We performed every Friday and Saturday with three exceptions: Christmas weekend and one Saturday due to a COVID exposure in our audience.
We hosted at least two shows per weekend: our Friday Night Frenzy (shortform) and Kismet + Friends (longform) shows. We also featured a smattering of guest shows. Some were one-offs, some out of town guests, and some were the beginning seedlings of what will become regular programming. All in all, we hosted 49 performances of 13 different shows.
Our Friday Night Frenzy and Kismet + Friends shows are helmed by what we call our “marquee players,” our senior cast of professional performers. They get paid $30 per show. Our Friday show also features a musical director, who we pay their standard rate (varies). We paid out about $5,000 to these performers. We also hosted a few private events that we paid performers at this same rate. (Note: Luke and Taylor are not taking any performer wages or other salary at this point.)
Kismet + Friends also features an Armando-style monologist. We pay our monologists $30 per show; totaling $420.
Our Kismet + Friends show also features at least one of our house teams. We pay out house team performers $10 per show that they perform in. This totaled about $800.
We typically pay our guest teams $50 per show. We’ve paid about $300 to these guests.
Our “late night shows” have been independently produced by members of our community. We’ve tried a few different payment models for these shows. So far, we’ve paid out $800 for nine different late night shows.
This totals just over $9,000 paid out to performers and producers in 2021. Additionally, we also pay our coach roster $125/month, and pay out our teachers at either 50% or 75% of their class revenue. We’ve given out 11 full class scholarships and 4 partial scholarships (Kismet covers the cost of scholarships).
We’ve also paid our front-of-house staff $15/hour plus tips, which they split evenly among whomever is working. We have one half-time staffer (Ayla) who gets paid market rate.
Here’s what we have in the pipe for 2022:
We are adding our family show, Kismet Kids, directed and produced by Jess Halpin. This is a new weekly show with a dedicated cast who are experienced working with kids and families. We are paying Jess $175/month to lead this show, and each cast member gets paid $20 per show.
We’re adding a slew of new shows into the 9:30 slot. Going forward, the producer of this show will receive a 50% split of the ticket revenue. Producers will pay out their performers.
We’re paying teams participating in indie cagematch $20 per show.
We’ve added another part-time day staffer (Marisa) to assist in day-to-day operations.
There is no Kismet without the people who have helped us along the way. Paying everyone out at this rate is, in many ways, the bare minimum. Everyone who has stepped on our stage has helped in building this business and arts organization in an irreplaceable way.
We've got a way to go before the money coming in is more than the money going out. This is okay: we are establishing and growing the business and brand. It's much more critical to us at this point to make strategic investments in the best and most dedicated people who will be with us along the way as we build a new organization.
It’s worth mentioning that we’ve doubled-down on COVID-mitigation policies. It’s now a requirement to show proof-of-vaccination to enter Kismet, in addition to wearing a mask. Our performer, teacher and director community are also subject to updated rules and requirements around booster shots, quarantining after any exposure, and producing negative test results. Fewer than 5% of our performers have tested positive since opening and we’ve had zero COVID spread at Kismet.
As we move forward into 2022, Luke and I are more focused than ever on our primary goal: great offerings that make lots of people laugh. The business model isn’t complicated:
We are so confident in our performers, producers, team and journey. We can’t wait to see what’s next.