When it comes to hiring the perfect comedian for your next event, there are many factors to consider. You want to choose someone who is a great fit for your organization and your audience, so doing a little homework can go a long way in helping you find the right candidate.
- Don’t hire a performer whose material isn’t clean
- Don’t hire a comedian that’s not funny
- Don’t hire a comedian that lacks experience
- Don’t go with a performer who uses controversial content
- Don’t choose a comedian that won’t connect with your audience
- Don’t go with a performer whose presentation isn’t long enough
- Don’t hire a comedian who doesn’t invite participation
- Don’t pass up a comedian because they’re too expensive
- Don’t choose a performer who uses innuendo
- Don’t go with a performer who has no demo video
Here are some examples of events for which you might need to hire an entertainer:
- after-dinner program
- sales award show
- fundraiser gala
- company party
- annual convention
No matter the type of meeting you are planning, it is too important to take any chances. You want to work with a comedian, entertainer, or humorous speaker, you can trust.
This article will help you deliver the laughs that will make your event a super-success.
You wouldn’t ask someone to represent your company or organization without learning some background information first. Before you hire an entertainer for your event, check their performance background.
Look at what is called their “EPK,” aka their “Electronic Press Kit.” If they don’t have one of these, they are probably not a pro!
Discover: What type of comedy does he or she perform? What are some notable events they have performed at in the past? Email their references. What do previous clients have to say about them? How did they enhance the event experience for attendees?
I cannot emphasize this enough: Do your research before you hire a comedian for your event. Sometimes meeting planners don’t thoroughly vet the person they are hiring to perform at their meeting or fundraiser, and the results can be costly.
Avoid These 10 “No-No’s”
To ensure your next event goes smoothly, let’s review some common mistakes to avoid when you are hiring a comedian, keynote speaker, magician, or event emcee.
This list will help you bring the fun to your function—without the risk of failure.
Along with this 10 no-no’s list, read to the end and I will share ONE bonus mistake you must avoid at all costs!
Mistake #1: The performer isn’t clean
Many entertainers who claim to be “clean comedians” don’t actually meet the definition. While they may be funny, they still rely on raunchy jokes, sexual references, racist remarks, and even profanity in their presentations.
Please know, I am not the “Pope of purity.” But as the founder of CleanComedians.com, I have dedicated my career to understanding and promoting clean comedy.
A clean comedian does not deliver “GROSS” material. Let me spell it out. GROSS is an acronym. A clean comedian does not perform material that involves:
Racially insensitive content
Sometimes the quickest way to get a laugh is to shock the audience, but that’s the last thing you need as a meeting planner. You want your audience smiling, not feeling shocked—and you certainly don’t want an entertainer representing your company to put your organization in a bad light.
The most important thing is to hire an entertainer who knows how to get big laughs without getting dirty. CleanComedians.com was designed to be just that resource, so that meeting planners can make everyone laugh, without embarrassing or offending anyone.
Mistake #2: The comic isn’t funny
Believe it or not, some “comedians” who do work clean forget the funny factor. Make sure your entertainer knows how to do just that—entertain an audience.
Otherwise, you could end up with someone who just reads one-liners from a book of Dad jokes, or—if you’re old enough to remember—the insert to a Laffy Taffy wrapper.
Reading jokes aloud or sharing memes is fun. But it’s not the same as hiring a professional comedian. You are looking for a performer who captivates your audience—someone who will surprise and delight them.
Keep in mind that while many stand-up comics today rely on vulgarity, you will be happy to know that many of the best entertainers rely on variety. Consider hiring a comedy magician, comic juggler, improv artist, humorous keynote speaker, or other professional who demonstrates that fun is not a four-letter word.
Mistake #3: The performer lacks experience
Warning: Just because someone in the office is funny around the water cooler doesn’t mean they know how to entertain an entire audience in a live or virtual setting.
When it comes to finding a professional, look for a seasoned working pro. This means that he or she has given presentations in front of both live and online audiences scores of times. The last thing you want is for your group to be the guinea pig for an amateur comedian.
Again, checking references is a great idea. Who has hired this presenter before? Go deeper than just reading one or two testimonies from a website of someone calling themselves a “clean” comedian. Watch video samples—make sure you’re hiring an experienced entertainer.
Mistake #4: The comedian uses controversial content
You may find an entertainer who refers to himself or herself as a “clean” comedian, but who might still alienate your audience if they rely on certain topics.
Just say “NO.”
CleanComedians.com features speakers, entertainers, and comedians who say NO to:
Avoid hiring an entertainer who will cause division or stir up bad feelings in your group. Remember, you’re not hiring a comedian to do a Netflix special, you’re hiring someone to represent your brand and further the mission of your meeting!
Do not hire a comedian who jokes about sensitive topics.
Do not hire a performer who will try to further their own agenda.
Do not hire an entertainer who will make a political statement.
The best motto here is to look for a clean comedian who believes, when in doubt…leave it out.
Mistake #5: The entertainer doesn’t connect with your audience
This is vital. Whoever you put on stage as a master of ceremonies, after-dinner entertainer, or magical presenter, this performer must be able to make everyone in your audience feel great.
You should be looking for three things in this area:
- Will he make my people laugh?
- Is he likeable?
- Does he present himself in a way that fits our culture?
You’re looking for someone who can not only read your room, but who can also feel your room. Hire a presenter who will immerse herself in the culture of your organization—long before your event date.
- Will this person be able to connect with the values of your mission?
- Will they be able to help you achieve your event goals?
- Are they suitable for your audience?
- Will your attendees be able to relate to him or her?
- Do they have a personality that your people will like?
Mistake #6: The presenter doesn’t have a long enough presentation
Sometimes we will see a hilarious entertainer on America’s Got Talent or other comedy specials. They have polished a 3-minute act and really knock it out of the park on TV. But this doesn’t mean they can pull off a 30-to-60-minute onstage presentation for you.
Hire a comedian who can present a full-length program. This is crucial. You don’t want someone who only has a solid 10 minutes stretching and performing for 45 minutes. B-O-R-I-N-G.
Do your research ahead of time. Make sure the funny guest presenter can deliver the goods and fill the length of time you need for the entertainment at your meeting.
Mistake #7: The performer doesn’t invite participation
It’s tempting to hire the first likeable comedian you see on the web. But if you see a red brick wall in the background, that may not be a good sign. Be wary of hiring a stand-up comedian who doesn’t work in the corporate arena. Oftentimes these comedians are essentially ranting onstage instead of inviting the audience to participate in wholesome fun.
These days, your attendees want to be part of the show. The key is to hire a comedian who will engage your attendees with tons of interaction, involvement, and audience participation.
Examples of this kind of entertainer include comedy magicians, comic jugglers, improv performers, and comedy music and sketch performers.
This doesn’t mean that a clean stand-up (monologue style) comedian might not be ideal for your group. Just make sure he or she knows the language of your audience and speaks in a way that is relevant and engaging for your people.
When a comedian customizes her material for your group and your event, engagement goes up and the impact is increased.
Mistake #8: The comedian is too expensive
A strong working professional comedian is usually not cheap. Just because they don’t go for the cheap laughs doesn’t mean they are inexpensive!
Just like when buying a car or a house or almost anything of great value, you tend to get what you pay for. Here are a few tips to getting the most show for your dough:
Ask the performer what he or she charges.
Budget: How much is designated for this part of your program? What was spent last year?
Communicate exactly what you are looking for in an entertainer and what you are working with budget-wise.
Remember fees are often negotiable. Have a clear conversation about this so the performer (or his or her rep) knows exactly what you are looking for in terms of both fun and the funds you have available for this meeting.
Your event is important—it is worth investing in the ideal entertainer; one who will be a great fit for your company or organization. Going the low-cost route will usually not give your audience the quality experience you want them to have.
Mistake #9: The entertainer uses innuendo
Some performers who call themselves “clean” comedians say they are clean because they don’t specifically use curse words or sexually explicit language.
However, they might use sexual innuendo or other references that lead the audience down a path you don’t want them going down at a corporate or association meeting.
Let’s go back to our motto here. Remember it? “If in doubt…leave it out!”
This is another reason checking references is a good idea. Make a point to ask previous clients. Is this person a bona fide “clean” comedian?
If you find video clips of this performer working “blue,” it means this entertainer is not for you!
When it comes to hiring the ideal funny person, look for an entertainer who understands that humor doesn’t have to be filthy to be funny. Hire a comedian who can get big laughs without leading the audience into the bedroom or the bathroom.
Mistake #10: The performer has no demo video
Look closely at the word demonstration. The word “demo” is at the heart of it. You want to see a demonstration of what this entertainer will do for your group. The best way to do that—if you can’t see them in person—is to watch a video clip.
Make sure you see a sample of what they will do at your event. Watch as many videos of them performing as you can. I would caution you strongly against hiring an entertainer before you have previewed their work. Pay attention to the types of events where they have performed, as well as audience reactions and participation.
Choosing the right pro to host or entertain is vital for the success of your event. Your special guest will set the tone for your program. They play a key role in creating the experience you want for your attendees.
What is the single worst mistake you can make? What is the ONE thing that is even worse than the “no-no’s” I have outlined for you here??
Forgetting to bring the fun-factor to your people.
Whether you hire a comedian, a comedy-magician, a hilarious juggler, a humorous speaker, a witty master of ceremonies, make sure you delight your audience with wholesome humor.
Remember. Always remember: Your people want to have a great time at your gathering. It’s laughter they’re after.
Working with CleanComedians.com is a great way to make your next event a big hit. It’s all about positive humor. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Enjoy the show!
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Adam Christing is the founder of CleanComedians.com. He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, fundraiser galas, and more. He is the author of several humor books, including Your Life is a Joke: 12 Ways to Go from Ha Ha to AHA! For more event tips, check out Adam’s blogs on this site and at AdamChristing.com.