The Importance of Good Entertainment

The Importance of Good Entertainment

by Chris Forrest

Corporate events and the importance of having them is underrated, people don’t realize how effective a tool such an event can be.  Whether you’re looking to attract new business, cement relationships with your existing clients, educate your staff or boost team morale thereby increasing productivity, a successful corporate event has immense power.

The thing is though, if you want to make people feel special, you have to make your event special.  I’ve done a lot of events in my nineteen years as a comedian, I’ve seen some amazing events, I’ve seen some complete duds and a lot that are somewhere in between. There are many elements that can influence this. Obviously, as a comic I’m biased and I feel that the most important is entertainment. I’ve sat with delegates at the breakfast table many times after an event, and I can’t recall too many conversations about how spectacular the centre-piece was or how much they enjoyed the malva pudding & custard (the desert of choice at 90% of these nights). The subject that’s got tongues wagging is normally a toss up between how much they enjoyed the comedian (or other entertainment but as I said, I’m biased), who won which awards or how many shooters everybody manage to force down their throat on the company account  – if I’m honest this one normally comes up first.

Now if you’re an events planner or planning your company’s upcoming function, you’re probably looking at a comedian to make it awesome, and if you’re not, you really should be. Comedians, in my humble opinion, are the most versatile, best value for money and also great at improvising if things don’t go according to plan. The thing is when you book a comic, there are certain things you can, and should do in order to get the most out of it for all involved, so here are a few tips to help:

Track record

It’s all good and well if three of your friends saw a guy ripping it up a the Rusty Hook comedy night, but it is important to remember that a formal function is very different from a comedy club. The subjects discussed are normally quite different, the “F-bombs” need to be locked away in a secure location, hecklers, no matter how belligerent and drunk, need to be treated with a level of respect rather than destroyed and lastly it must be kept in mind that the audience are not there for comedy so they’re slightly harder to amuse, which can be the undoing of someone who is not experienced in such things. Make sure the comic you hire has either been in the comedy game for a fair amount of time, or has a proven corporate track record, the former if any good, should have the latter. I would suggest getting references rather than believing a self-written bio, just to be safe.

Reliability 

While you’re doing the reference check, make sure that the individual you’re hiring is reliable. Since these events normally have a strict time schedule and you have enough to stress about, without worrying because your funny person is an hour late. Furthermore they should be able to stick to time, if you’ve allocated a twenty minute spot, a good comic will be able to fill exactly that time, give or take a minute either side, they should also be adaptable enough to shorten or lengthen it (within reason) if necessary.

Match the comic to the audience

A good booking agent should be able to assist with this. The nature of the industry means that there are a lot of comedians out there who can cross over to a wide range of people, which is great especially if your company is big and diverse, in this case, make sure your comic can cross over and appeals to all. In other cases it may be more specialized, if 90% of your audience only understands Chinese, it makes no sense to book an English-speaking comedian, its happened to me, and was terrible for the audience and myself.

Give a briefing if required

If you want your comic to do something different from the norm, give them a briefing. This isn’t always the case, but often I’ll get asked to make industry specific jokes (which decent comics should do anyway), or take the mickey out of “Dave from accounts” which is a lot easier if I have a bit more insight into your product and industry, or who Dave is, and why he’s been chosen for this “honour”. It’s best to request a briefing, especially if you are quite nervous about how the event will unfold, or if this is your first time organizing an event with a comedian and you are looking for some reassurance. If the comic refuses to meet for a briefing, you may want to tread with caution, rather look out for a comic who is professional and willing to go out of their way to make you feel more comfortable about your event.

A good comedian will elevate your event, as they say “Laughter is the best the best medicine” and at this point in time, I think we could all do with a good chuckle. So book a comic and make it better.

The Parenting Minefield

The Parenting Minefield

by Warren Robertson

I don’t do anything these days without consulting the internet. I no longer prepare grocery lists, but instead look up recipes online then wander the aisles of my supermarket tracking down what they tell me to buy. Buying a toaster has become a three-day exercise in checking reviews vs prices to get the best deal, and I won’t spend an hour streaming a random film in case it’s bad choosing instead to spend an hour online reading movie reviews. It’s making life untenable. Perhaps the most confusing place for this is parenting.

Every week someone somewhere is releasing a new study that seems to completely refute the study released last week, and I read them all. One minute you need to allow your toddler to make mistakes, the next actively engage in correcting them. One week it’s encouraged to keep them constantly engaged, the next you need to give them time to themselves, then engagement is necessary, as long as you are engaged with them. I am told that being overly relaxed as a parent can lead to my son lacking focus, and being incapable of finding the drive to succeed in life (see Mom & Dad I knew this was all your fault), while being overly restrictive can lead to him being unable to make decisions, and incapable of dealing with difficulties. Presumably being somewhere in the middle creates a blend of these two kinds of dysfunctions? It seems no matter how you choose to raise your child, the end result is always going to be an adult whose sense of depression, bewilderment and isolation has left them barely capable of functioning day-to-day.

Causing me particular aggravation is that kind of click bait particular to new parents, the “Watch out your child could die if” news story. Articles titled, “Ten things you should never do with your kids” always get me clicking, and include things like, “let them go online”, or “Let them play on the swings”, but never include the phrases, “Imprison them in a basement” or “Sacrifice them to a dark lord”. Those tips seem obvious candidates for me, particularly given that the articles are written in an era where fake medical professionals tell you not to vaccinate your child, and people not only do that but then also argue with others in their office about it.

“Maureen the article said we weren’t to let Koosie play on the swings, it said absolutely nothing about slathering him in bloody meat and chucking him in a shark tank!”

What recent studies do seem to unanimously agree on, however, is that people who have children are generally happier than those who don’t. Meaning the only way we will ever be able to overcome the general sense of confusion, sadness, and malaise that our parents forced on us through their own parenting choices is to have children of our own and do the same to them.

How I Became Famous

How I Became Famous

by Warren Robertson

Americans insist that one must “fake it to make it”. As a professional comedian, this is quite likely good advice. Some of the worst entertainers I know have made it to television, magazines and glory simply through putting up big signs with their faces on, buying a hundred thousand Twitter followers and telling anyone who will listen that they are talented, but I am not built that way. I was brought up to learn that boasting was uncouth and as such would far rather be at home watching Netflix than strutting a red carpet dressed in meat.

As a result, I probably should have been surprised a few years back when I was invited to participate in my first celebrity charity golf day. A total of 24 “celebs” – ranging from sports stars to former news readers, and musicians – had been chosen to participate. Each of us was to be teamed with three players, presumably to fill their days with magic and give them someone to beat. I was casually swinging my driver at the tee when the first couple of my group’s players walked up and introduced themselves. We chatted for a few minutes, I threw in some jokes about golf and things seemed to be going off well, when suddenly one of them said, “I think I saw Victor Mattfield up there. I wonder who our celebrity will be.” I took it in my stride, nodded, and said, “here he comes now” pointing to the straggler in our fourball who was just arriving. I spent the rest of the day digging my ball out of the rough and helping the guys guess just who this new stranger might be. “Wasn’t he on Agter Elke Man?” I said at one point. The other two shrugged, and I knew I had probably gotten away with it.

If I were to obey that dictum in the opening line of this article, this would be the paragraph in which I tell you how, since those first humble beginnings, my fame is now shooting into the stratosphere, and brands are clamouring to get a little piece of me at home in my meat suit. I would describe the lavish red carpet movie premiers (I didn’t make the cut for Black Panther, but did find myself sitting next to someone I think I recognised from a TV advert on the opening night of The Emoji Movie), the free gifts (I was once accidentally sent a pair of large brand running shoes, that fell apart long before they saw the inside of a gym) and the lavish book launches (I didn’t go and Chris Forrest still owes me my copy of Jen Su‘s “From Z to A Lister: How To Get on the Social Scene”).

Perhaps if I had collected, and read, my Jen Su book I would now be paid to market product to the various collection of middle-aged male computer game enthusiasts, engineers, train set hobbyists, rock collectors, card game nerds, sci-fi fanatics and neck-beards (collectively known as MAMCGEETSHRCCGNSCFNBs) that, judging by the people who recognise me in public, seem to exclusively make up my viewing public. In a way, I am glad I haven’t been though. If there is one group that can easily see through a cheap influencer Twitter campaign it’s MAMCGEETSHRCCGNSCFNBs and the last thing I want to do is disappoint my MAMCGEETSHRCCGNSCFNBs.

Note the subtle shift in the last paragraph to “my MAMCGEETSHRCCGNSCFNBs”. This was intentional. Lady Gaga has her “litte monsters”, Beyonce has “The BeyHive” and now I have “The MAMCGEETSHRCCGNSCFNBs”. With this one small shift, fame is inevitable. Until it happens though, I will be at home watching Netflix.