Published in Podcast

The MiBiz Podcast: Comedy Club of the Future

BY Friday, September 16, 2022 12:59pm

Aaron Sorrels had an “grown-up job” in marketing, but found himself unemployed and struggling with sobriety. Turning to his love for connecting with people, Sorrels became a professional comedian, going by the stage name of the Unemployed Alcoholic. Instead of waiting years to hone his voice and then spend even more time trying to get recognized in the industry, Sorrels created his own entrepreneurial venture for people in the funny business. Today, he runs several financially successful ventures, including Soapstone Comedy Club in Facebook’s MetaVerse.

On how Sorrels got into comedy:

That's a funny story. (During my recovery), my wife and I were walking around downtown and we were just laughing together and I thought, ‘There’s something powerful here. This laughter is very cool. It’s very nice. It’s an important thing.’ And so I decided I was going to try my hand at helping other people laugh. That day was the final day to apply for a spot with LaughFest, the big comedy festival with Gilda’s Club here in Grand Rapids. I applied for the spot (and) I got it.

On flipping the comedy industry on its head:

I took a different approach. I decided, ‘OK, I’m going to build a business around comedy and create my own opportunities and bring other people along with me for that. Working closely with a friend, we started a company called Clean Comedy Time. From that, we started putting on shows where we wouldn’t have to rely on our own names to bring in the crowd. We could bring in other comedians and give them opportunities, pay them well, and put that on.

How Sorrels found the Metaverse (Facebook’s virtual reality world):

It’s not a sexy answer, but I had zero interest in the metaverse. I was (at) a point again where it’s like, ‘OK, what’s going to happen? What platform do I go? How do I connect with people? How do I do something of value, of purpose?’ And so really, it wasn’t a strategic plan, it was more a position of need, a position of hardship, and then finding it and thinking, ‘Ooh, yeah, this is it.’

How Sorrels is making real money in VR:

At the moment, we’ve been able to keep all of our shows in the Soapstone Comedy Club free, which some weeks has 12,000-13,000 visitors come through. We get a lot of engagement. From this, there are different revenue opportunities such as in-world purchases, our supporters wall, applause credits, show sponsorships, etc

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