The subject of 'Bringer gigs' has arisen again. This Guardian article by Marc Burrows explains what they are, and how they affect the comedy community.
Below is my solution to the 'Bringer' problem, which may also have a positive impact on other areas of comedy too.
Almost every single comedy article focuses on London, but from what I've experienced things are very different outside the capital.
I live in Brighton where the open-mic scene is understandably smaller than London, but there isn't a single bringer or pay-to-play. Not one! There are significantly fewer acts compared to London, and yet the quality is higher and audiences are generally decent-sized, and not just full of other comics waiting their turn. This is repeated across the country.
London clubs are heaving with gig requests. Many gigs are available, but not enough to meet demand. In many cases 'promoters' won't choose a venue that will attract regular and numerous punters - It might have a stage and lights, but it's in the middle of bloody nowhere - so instead of 'promoting' these gigs 'promoters' enforce a 'Bringer' policy instead, to guarantee the open-micers some type of audience. As the Guardian article points out - It can be a flawed scheme. A scheme that will never die due to the increase of London acts year on year. Demand is always too high (see 'The Edinburgh Fringe' for more details), therefore the comedy community must be massively reduced.
The solution to this problem, London, is to appoint a 'Roaming Critic', a 'Travelling Referee', a 'Journeying Truth-Teller', a 'Bring-Slayer' to attend as many open mic gigs as possible in London. His/her role is to to inform the dismal acts/people who are only doing it for attention/actors/unfunny friendless sexless losers/the genuinely mentally ill, that they are shit and should go away forever. They should stop clogging up London gigs, and should never EVER do a triple-hander at the Fringe.
The 'Roaming Critic' will base his/her judgement on watching 5/15/50 separate performances over a year/two years. A log can be kept and a failure to be rated more than 5/10 (on average) will result in a one-man intervention. The 'Roaming Critic' will speak his/her mind and has the power to banish the poor act from the current overpopulated and unsustainable circuit. This is to counteract the current backslapping comedy community who are frankly too scared/polite to tell an awful act to give up.
In the current climate it doesn't matter how many silent audiences the rubbish open-micer encounters, they keep on trucking regardless. They've killed the gig, again, and they don't even realise it. These people that are so deluded they visit libraries to recreate the thrilling sensation of comedy. There are hundreds of these acts operating every day in London, you will encounter more than one at your next gig but you will say nothing (to their face).
But within a couple of years comics who cannot judge their inability to get lols will be long gone, thanks to the 'Roaming Critic'.
Freeing up space on the circuit means an increase in gig availability for good acts, and fewer acts will be exploited by bringer promoters. Bringers should die out. This better environment increases the chances of being seen/progression to paid work, not to mention creating gigs that feature TALENT instead of shite bookended by brilliance. This results in gigs that audience's may actually return to, rather than the current trend of politely watching a dire first section, before buggering off and never sitting through an open mic show EVER AGAIN!
I myself am a below average/piss poor comedian. I probably would have benefited from hearing the hard truth from the community/a 'Roaming Critic' a long time ago. Imagine the money I could have saved on train fares to the capital.
I am prepared to be a 'Roaming Critic' by appointment, for FREE, even on a school night. All you need to do is pay my travel costs, buy me several pints at the venue, and a Big Mac meal after the gig.
I will tell you "you're shit" after your performance, and quite possibly during it too.