Finding a corporate comedian

by | Aug 19, 2023 | Comedy

Your ducks are in a row: leadership is on board, the guests are into it, and you know when the comedy show should happen in your event schedule. 

So how do you find the actual comedian?

As in most cases these days, we’re starting with Google.

Start by Googling “Stand-up comedian in…” and fill in your state at the end.

Stand-up comedian in Iowa, for example. 

It’s really that easy. When you Google “Stand-up comedian in [your state],” you’ll find websites that act as clearinghouses for entertainers, sorted by location. 

(Why should you look locally first? Because flying someone across the country, paying for hotel and food and all that jazz, adds up fast, and I know y’all are careful about your event budgets.)

Now, here’s something you need to know: take the first few results with a grain of salt.

Note the results at the top, marked “Sponsored.”

You might see “Voted Best Comic” or similar up in those “paid search ads,” but it’s just that: AN ADVERTISEMENT. Using a headline the comedian or some savvy marketer wrote themselves. Maybe, or maybe not, based in truth. 

If you wander into a clearinghouse site, they charge comedians to be at the top of search results in the same way Google sells ads to be at the top of theirs. 

A comedian buying advertisement isn’t a bad thing by any means, but remember that being at the top of search results does not equate to “funniest” or “best.” It just means “deepest pockets,” and guess what? They’re going to pass their expenses off to you. More overhead = higher cost, but not necessarily higher value.

Time to dig in to a few of these, and see what they’re about.

Pick a few of the comedians near you, and visit their websites.

What to look for: a professional website, that’s organized and easy to find what you need.

This is a nod to professionalism, and you need to hire a professional for your event. Corporate events aren’t open mic nights at the local watering hole. They need to be reliable, a clear communicator, and someone who takes this job seriously.  

A comedian’s website is the front porch of their comedy business. If the front porch is in disarray, everything inside is, too. 

Look for a section on “Corporate Events” or “Private Events”

If they don’t have one, that’s a red flag.

You need a comedian with skills and the résumé to go with it.

If they aren’t billing themselves as a corporate or private comedian, they likely don’t have corporate event experience, That’s like hiring the rando dude from Tradehome Shoes to operate on your broken ankle. Close, but not quite.

An experienced corporate comedian will be professional on stage in front of your audience. So look for that experience.

Next, check out their testimonials and reviews on their site.

Do they have a list of corporate clients who have said nice things about them? Bonus points if they mention the organizations for these clients, because it gives you the ability to check on them and ensure the reviews are genuine.

Watch video of a corporate comedy set.

Don’t choose a comedian based on a two-minute YouTube clip of one good joke. Anybody can write and perform one good joke. Hell, my uncle Rex is funny for about seven minutes before he runs out of things to say.

You need video proof they know what they’re doing.

An experienced corporate comedian will have a video that shows exactly what you’ll get. Watch it, start to finish.

Is the audience laughing? Is the content rated appropriately for what you want?

(You’d be surprised how often comedians post videos filled with silent audiences.)

Can’t find a video? Or maybe you’ve contacted them to ask, but they can’t provide one? That’s a red flag.

Reach out to the performer and start a conversation.

There should be a contact form or phone/email on their website. Reach out!

Provide him or her with:

  1. Date and time of your event
  2. Location
  3. The length of show you want

Ask the comedian

  1. Where they’re located. Remember, just because you searched for “local comedian” doesn’t mean Google gave you someone nearby. Comedians can pay to show up in search results thousands of miles from home.
  2. If they require lodging (if yes, ask them to incorporate lodging into their quote so you’re not also a travel agent)
  3. Their quoted cost to perform at your event.

Protect your organization

If you come to an agreement, a professional will have a contract for you to sign, to protect you both. Review it in its entirety before hiring them.

The contract should address:

  • Cancellation (What happens if the comedian is sick? Will they provide an alternate? Will you be refunded?)
  • The equipment you each agreed to provide, if any
  • The retainer you’re responsible for to block that date on their calendar. (This is common. Saying yes to your event means saying no to other offers, so the retainer is usually non-refundable and compensates the performer for turning down those jobs.)

But wait! How about a little insurance?

Nobody likes a “gotcha” moment. Check out these final tips for a great corporate comedy show.

Other posts in this series:

Photo by Matthias Wagner

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