You have your open liners, your set list and closing joke. You're just starting to get warmed up to the crowd but now you're getting the light and are rushing to finish properly. I can count on both hands the number of times I lost track of things when I saw that light go from flash to waving. Am I running over or is the host having an arm spasm? I'll just hope for the best and keep going. Damn.. lost track again! Fine.. quick wrap up and exit. Today we're talking abut maximizing your stage time. I'll break this down for open mics and showcase show spots so you can see the difference.
Depending on the time allowance you can always figure how to get the best use of your stage time. This comes in handy when banging out new material or getting a feel for your delivery. Maximizing your stage time is like game management and sending you best team up with that one play read to win it all. Even though you are trying to work in new material you gotta have a feel for your alotted time. You need to know how much time you have: 3-5 minutes for open mics is a fair number to plan for, you need to know when the light goes on how much time you have after that to wrap it up and have your closing joke to tie it all together. You don't want to be the guy who constantly run over on open mics, respect that time limit for the show and other comedians. Believe me it will create an opening for you to get more time and even invitations to showcases if you're a good time manager. Yes you are funny but you can't just keep going over the time limit no matter what. Get in, get out and stick to this best practice.
You can get here with practice, great material and a sense of time. Showcase shows are a little different because they give you more time, may include pay for your time, exposure and more importantly invitation for more shows. Maximizing your time in a showcase show is equally important because you have your bits that fuel your set and the way to tie it all together to get the best performance. If you are taking the bullet on a showcase show, the host hopefully has already warmed up the crowd and set the table for an awesome show. Your time management skills have gotten you this showcase and now you don't want to spoil it for the rest of the night. If your style is to do crowd work to build up into your set then recognizing your time limits is key. You have a good 10-15 minute showcase time slot and a "bullet" spot which is like racing at pole position in the Indy 500 because you get to set the pace for the race. Your time management throughout your set keeps the pace hot and finishing on time helps the show. Now your time limit, how much wrap time (when the light comes on, how much time you have to wrap it up) and whether you can run it over if you are killing it. Remember if this is the bullet spot though, you aren't the headliner so knowing how to get in, get on and get off is key.
Just keep them laughing in your time slot and they'll come back for more. Do an awesome job and they will want you for more time.