Crackhouse Comedy Club (Crackhouse) has been home to local comics like Dr. Jason Leong, Joanne Kam, Hannah Azlan and Kavin Jay. It has also hosted international comics, offering Malaysians a way to access this entertaining scene.
For seven years, the club’s livelihood was based on the sale of tickets for live shows, which amounted to 80% of its revenue. The other 20% came from their snacks and drinks at the bar to complement the venue’s performances.
“During the blockade, the entire revenue channel was removed,” Rizal Van Geyzel, the club’s founder, told Vulcan Post. So to stay afloat amid MCO 3.0, they have started selling pizzas to deliver and take away to their club.
Turning online was difficult
Rizal is no stranger to stand-up comedy. As a full-time performer, he opened Crackhouse in 2014 as a practice setting for promising local comedians to help them hone their skills. It would also help to grow the local community that appreciated these acts.
He shared that during the first and second MCOs, the team tried many ways to stay in the fleet and experimented with selling tickets for live shows using Zoom. “But people mostly preferred to wait until they could come to a physical live,” Rizal explained.
Not to mention, few comedians were open to the idea of acting online, as the technical equipment was too expensive.
The team then diversified by organizing a training course called “An Introduction to Stand-Up Comedy” with 8 cohort participants in Zoom. He covered lessons on character creation, comedy writing, acting, and disaster mitigation, and was tutored by Crackhouse’s own comics.
Dictionary time: Disaster mitigation is about preparing for the worst, whether it’s technical issues with the sound system or the hecklers (people’s interruptions).
Rizal Van Geyzel, founder of the Crackhouse Comedy Club.
Participants who joined did not necessarily want to become standing comedians. It was simply learning the ropes to become better communicators and presenters in their respective fields.
Pivoting the F&B
Throughout the MCOs, Crackhouse made no income by delivering food, as they mostly sold snacks such as hot dogs, nachos, fries, sandwiches, and beverages. I just didn’t have a unique enough proposal that was worth a client’s money.
“People came to Crackhouse for comedy, not for food,” he stated.
But being severely affected by the club’s falling revenue, Rizal turned to another passion: his love of pizzas, especially crunchy and thin.
Then, Rizal spent three months in the R&D of pizzas to make them special for Crackhouse. He learned how to make the base of the pizza from scratch, along with the necessary sauces, sausages, and so on.
Using fresh ingredients, don’t take shortcuts with anything that goes into pizzas. “Except for the cheese, we don’t have any cows. That’s why we buy imported and quality mozzarella cheese “, joked Rizal.
Now, with the finished products, Rizal conceptualized the club’s new menu one morning at 4 a.m., with a cheeky pun on the names of the pizza.
“The” I have beef! “The pizza was supposed to be called ‘Frisky brisket’ because it’s so good it’ll get you excited. We thought that took it too far, plus the pizza is supposed to be great for families,” the comic excited. . Pizzas can cost between RM15 and RM30, depending on the toppings.
The pizzas were also launched at a perfect time; in March 2021 it was allowed to resume live events. He gave Crackhouse a small window to market his menu to a multitude of dining halls, not to mention the shows again.
Rizal reported that customer responses were positive and that they helped the club raise awareness about its offerings among regular and new customers. Diners also provided invaluable feedback that helped them adjust for improvement recipes.
After the complete closure of MCO 3.0, Crackhouse was now armed with pizza deliveries as revenue stream. But the money was still out of his pocket.
As the team uses a professional pizza oven, electricity bills at the club skyrocketed. They also experimented with many different packaging options as they needed one that would not damage the planet or the pizzas during deliveries.
“Once you’ve added the staff costs, the delivery partner’s processing costs, and everything you need to get our business going, there are some orders where we were making just RM1 per cake,” Rizal admitted.
Still, he appreciates that pizzas are not one-time purchases at Malaysia and has seen customers buy several pizzas several times a month. Higher margins have also been set for orders and drinks to help offset the low pizza margins.
The first time we received a Grab order from a customer was our turning point to sell these pizzas. We knew that comics and fans who are loyal to us would try it once, but the hardest part is getting them back, and that can only be done if we offer a really great product.
Rizal Van Geyzel, founder of the Crackhouse Comedy Club
All Crackhouse pizza orders include a QR code containing comedy clips provided by previous headers. Pizzas also include reheating instructions printed on the box stamp.
The comedian added that as long as they are allowed to have lunch and do live shows, they are fully equipped and ready to serve their pizzas at the club. “You could even say we’re desperate because the reduction in delivery partners is hurting our profit margins,” he shared.
“We will always continue to care about our food and make sure it is at the service of our live shows. We just want to have surprisingly good food for a comedy club, rather than a surprisingly good comedy for a pizzeria! ”
- You can find out more about Crackhouse Comedy Club here.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups we’ve written about here.
Featured Image Credit: Rizal Van Geyzel, founder of the Crackhouse Comedy Club