I know, lets book a comedian for our corporate event! Yep, that’s a good idea. No seriously, that is a good idea but where do you go to find one? Well you can Google search, ” book a comedian” and no doubt a raft of booking agents will come up and they will be able to source a comedian. Along with a jumble of all sorts of entertainers from Zazoo the unicyclist juggler to tribute act Lady Goo Goo, they will have a few comedians on their books and they may set you up. I have no quibble with booking agents; they are providing a valuable service. I do believe however that you have a much better chance of a stand up comedian having a successful performance if you hire a comedian directly. I have been a stand up comedian for 20 years and I know I have a lot more to lose than a booking agent if things go wrong on the night.

So what could possibly go wrong? Surely all the comedian needs is a microphone and away he goes; not really.

  • First off,  hotel sound systems are generally inadequate. I don’t know who installs these pieces of crap but they are the bane of my life. When ever I hear the phrase, “sure the hotel say they have their own sound system” my heart sinks. They are tinny, unreliable and have a tendency to cut out just as you are delivering a punchline; …..and he said, “that’s my ————“.  I have my own sound system that I bring everywhere just in case I need it and as I use a guitar in my act I usually do need it.
  • Secondly, lighting must be good. All comedians are visual comedians even if they appear to be deadpan. The facial expression tells whether a line is sarcastic or to be taken seriously. Some comedians deliver every line with wide eyed innocence, others employ fake anger. All of these subtleties are lost if he/she is backlit or lit with constantly changing disco lights.
  • Comedy works better early in the night, after the meal but before all the speeches and the dreaded obligatory raffle. Comedy requires audience attention. Its not like a music gig where people can chat away during the song knowing that when they hear a song end it is time to applaud. Once an audience get used to chatting its very hard to get them back and invariably that’s what they will start doing during the drawn out raffles and speeches.

Some of these requirements get lost in the conversation between comedian, agent and client. It’s much better if you talk directly to the client but the agent may not want this to happen because then you or the client may find out that the agent is sticking 50% onto your fee. The majority of corporate gigs are great but every comedian has their nightmare corporate event stories and yet with a bit of planning and conversation there is no reason why they should go wrong. Entertainment booking agents never send anyone to the event to experience why some go so well and others don’t but the comedian is the one that leaves an event feeling satisfied or with that awful feeling in the pit of their stomach when the opposite happens. So lets start asking the comedian how best to make comedy work at a work party, corporate or charity event.