Comedian Kaytlin Bailey loves to take on preconceived notions, and she loves a challenge. She speaks her mind in clubs, on podcasts, and in her acclaimed one-woman show Cuntageous. She has reinvented herself multiple times in her life already (from sex worker to political campaign director to comedian) and now that she’s settled on a career in comedy, she’s already looking to change the way the game is played.
Her CAKE Comedy Tour, featuring NYC-based comedians Carrie Gravenson (Carolines on Broadway), Abbi Crutchfield (truTV), Kaytlin Bailey (MTV, SiriusXM), and LA-based comedian Erin Judge (NBC’s Last Comic Standing), is setting out to solve a common problem for young touring comics. “We want to develop a model that can be used by fans, traveling theater troupes, other comedy tours. We’re trying to create a platform for folks who don’t necessarily have the name recognition to just do a tweet and sell out a city.” The CAKE ladies have teamed with Kickstarter to pre-sell their shows before they select a venue, and even before they commit to traveling to your city.
She came up with the idea at a party during the Brooklyn Comedy Festival. Bailey had used the traditional Kickstarter model before, of just asking for money to help support her last tour. “Give us money because we’re poor and fun and you like us and I’m so cute,” she said. “That worked out great. We got the startup capital through Kickstarter to do the original tour, but we kept having this recurring problem. We did 65 cities in four years. We sold out Ashville, LA, San Francisco, Seattle. We had these huge successes in great cities. Then we’d also perform for six angry VFW dudes outside of Boston or three angry people in Toronto, including the bartender. There were just these weird anomalies that would sometimes happen because we didn’t really know what we were getting into. We just didn’t have the margin to … You’d end up wiping out the entire profits of the tour in one failed city in Ashland, Oregon. This felt like a way to reduce the risk of that. We’re not dependent on promoters blowing smoke our butt. We’re not dependent on venues caring as much about the show as we do. We’re depending on our audience to give us a real clear sign that they want us to come to their town. We’ll go anywhere for a thousand dollars.”
Speaking with a Kickstarter rep, she vented about wishing there was a way to find out ahead of time what type of audience they could expect in a given town. “I wish we could do this,” she said, and was surprised to hear the answer was, “I’m pretty sure we can.” Then, they sat down and put their heads together and came up with this idea.
She explained. “The way it will work is we’ll hit our pre-sales goal with Kickstarter. Then we’ll contact a venue based on what the ticket sales are.” And the sales will not only help them choose the size venue they need, but also the type of venue. “We have two different tickets. We’ve got a $25 ticket, which is for rich people, that we do tend to hit well-established women who have made all the right choices and have $25 to spend on a ticket. Then, we also hit students, other artists, people who are broke, and so we have a $10 ticket.” These aren’t VIP tickets. Bailey made it clear that there are no poor-people sections or rich-people sections. It’s the same ticket, for the same theater, and the same type of seat. But the number and type of tickets sold, will help them decide whether to go upscale or bare bones with the venue. “If we sell forty $25 tickets, I know that we need a place where you can sit comfortably and have a waiter that’s nice to you. If we sell a hundred $10 tickets, then we can be in a rock venue,” Kaytlin explained. “We’re letting the audience tell us what kind of experience they want to have.”
There will also be virtual tickets, where buyers who can’t make it out can get a password to watch a live stream of the show. “We haven’t figured out the kinks on that exactly yet, but we’ll be selling virtual tickets for each and every show, so if you really want a show to come to your town and you just can’t make it that day, you’ve already scheduled your colonoscopy or something, then you can buy a virtual ticket and watch it live from anywhere at all.”Bailey said she got tired of talking to comedy clubs that didn’t want to take a risk on a “girls show.”
Even though they’ve just started using this new system, Kaytlin is already calling it rejuvenating. “It’s so different to walk into a venue where we sold all the tickets, and I’m performing with some of my best friends in comedy, and we all get each other, and it’s so cool. It’s just different than being a new feature in a club, feeling like you’re totally in the way. It’s really different. It feels good to be the boss.”
Bailey’s ambition goes way behind changing how touring is done. She already has a one-woman show under her belt, but wants more. She has stories she wants to tell, a book she wants to write, and a television series in her head. “I have a lot of personal goals, but I’m open to a lot of it. I want to write books. I want to write a TV show. I want to tour. I want to do stand up for the rest of my life.”
They’ve hit their first two goals Philadelphia and DC. Next up is Pittsburgh! To find out how you can help out, and where you can find the CAKE comedy tour, visit their kickstarter page, and follow @KaytlinBailey on Twitter.