Comedians work across the entertainment industry from performing live stand-up and comedy acting to writing for television and radio and other media. Equity covers the majority of this work either with collective agreements in theatre, television and film or standard template contracts for live stand-up work.
Equity Comedians’ Network
The Network was founded in 2015 and has over 400 members many of whom are registered with a Facebook group to keep in contact with each other and share information. The Network’s steering group put together the following manifesto for what the Network should aim to achieve which is:
- Fair pay for all
- Safe working conditions
- Protection from harassment and discrimination
- Fair treatment in the workplace
- A standard contract for comedians
The Work So Far
The Network drew up a contract which was approved by Equity and the Variety and Light Entertainment Council and has been adopted by a number of promoters. It is also available for comedians to use for their own bookings. A copy of the contract can be downloaded here.
The Network held an open meeting on the topic of Low Pay / No Pay which discussed the range of business models used by clubs and promoters many of which meant the comedian took the risk of not being paid a professional level fee or not receiving anything at all. The Network then undertook a survey which identified examples of both good and bad practice with regards to fair rates of pay. The findings from the survey are in the process of being acted on.
The Network has also put advice on the Facebook group about dealing with cancellations and about car sharing travelling to gigs.
A survey has just been conducted into the late night safety of comedians and about harassment while at gigs and the findings will be analysed and acted upon through 2019.
Benefits of Equity Membership for Comedians
- Public liability insurance
- Accident and Backstage Cover insurance while working
- Legal assistance for cancellations, non-payments and other workplace disputes
- Use of Comedians’ standard contract
- Tax advice
- Welfare and benefits advice
How to Join
To be eligible to join Equity you will need to have earned at least £500 as a performer from any time in your career.
The current minimum annual subscription is £132 and there is additionally a £32 entrance fee which you pay also when you first join. There is a £5 discount for paying by direct debit. If you choose to pay by monthly direct debit, for example, then the first payment would be £42.58 as it includes the entrance fee and following that would be £10.58 per month. These rates are current until at least the end of 2019.
If you have recently graduated from a full time performing arts course you may be eligible for Graduate Membership which is significantly lower cost and proof of work is not required.
Follow the JOIN links on this website be ready to upload documents showing your proof of work such as contracts or email correspondence during the process. In the Employer section put details down of your most recent booking.
Get involved with the Network
If you are a comedian and a member of Equity come along to a Network meeting and meet some of your fellow performers. Get in touch using firstname.lastname@example.org