When hosting a big marketing meeting, town hall, summit or other corporate event, booking entertainment may seem like one of the least important things on your to-do list. While the nuts and bolts of such meetings are important, musicians, dancers, and even magicians are a memorable way to give attendees a mental break. And when you really need to lighten the mood? It’s time to call in a comedian.
Comedians are a sure way to loosen up your crowd and encourage laughter—but a poorly chosen performer can be disastrous. Here are some tips for choosing the right stand-up act for your corporate event.
Know your audience.
Do you work for a social media company staffed by mainly millennials? Are you part of an established corporation rife with 40- and 50-somethings? Or does your company bring together all ages, races and lifestyles for a true melting pot of people? Knowing your audience for any event will dictate what sort of act you choose.
Obviously, if you have a corporate event that’ll be dotted with an over-40 crowd, you don’t want a performer who tends to harp on Tinder dating and college debt. For a younger crowd, look for stand-up shows that use some light insult humor—think of comedians like Louis CK or Aziz Ansari, both of whom are known for mixing observational humor and insult banter. For an older crowd, you may want to go a bit cleaner—more observational humor that appeals to everyone. Think of comedians like Jerry Seinfeld. They’re witty and charming without offending or calling out specific people.
Keep it family-friendly.
In keeping with knowing the audience, choosing a comedian who can deliver truly funny material goes hand-in-hand with keeping it PG-13. Because of the nature of most corporate events—be it an annual summit or a fundraiser for a specific cause—you probably don’t want someone who will drop F-bombs and share details about adult encounters. Remember, the comedian doesn’t need to be boring to be clean. An intelligent performer who can keep the audience laughing without relying on cheap shock value is ideal for just about any corporate event. Jim Gaffigan is a prime example of this.
Do your homework.
Before choosing your act, be sure to get a good sense of the performer. Head to YouTube, the comedian’s website, social media pages, and any other spot that hosts clips of their work. Or if you want to save yourself from going down a rabbit hole, get all the information you need about a specific comedian on their GigSalad profile. GigSalad lets you search by specific categories and locations, shows you pictures, videos, and reviews of a performer, and gives an option to request a free quote.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to a few finalists for a quick chat to make sure they’re a good fit for your event. Ask if they’re willing to develop some content just for your show—some stand-up comedians will incorporate specific details of their audience, which brings another level of humor to your event. Watching your CEO get grilled for only using blue pens or hearing the comedian poke fun at the odd name of your company are details that will go over well with your specific crowd. Of course, make sure your act knows any topics that are strictly off-limits as well.
Choosing the right stand-up act for your corporate event means days, weeks, months—maybe even years—of coworkers referring to hilarious anecdotes and jokes made by the performer. By making the effort to choose the perfect comedian for your needs, you can take any event from boring to brilliant.
About the author: Adam Young, CEO and founder of Event Tickets Center, is a father of two who has experienced hundreds of events and shows over the years. He enjoys sharing his industry knowledge to inform and inspire others to experience something new and make memories.