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:
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.
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.