How to Brief the Comedian for Your Corporate Event

Hiring a comedian for your corporate event is a fun and unique way to engage, entertain and lighten your guests’ moods. If you’re planning a corporate event, it may be a challenge to find a way to push business goals and ensure that guests have a fun time. Suppose this is your first time hiring a comedian, or you’re working with a planning committee. In that case, there may be questions surrounding your budget, the type of comedian you choose and their comedic style, and whether having a comedian is appropriate for your event. In order to address these questions when you book your comedian, you must have open lines of communication during the vetting and coordination process. At some point, your comedian will need to understand the guidelines and your expectations in order to deliver an outstanding performance. Here’s a handy guide on how to brief the comedian for your corporate event.

Select Your Comedian Based on their Style 

During the early stages of the planning process, you may decide to hire various vendors and entertainers, and you will need to make the best decision based on the goals of your event and its overall style and flow. Once you are clear on what you aim to accomplish and the theme of your event, you can select a comedian that aligns with your event’s style. There are various types of comedians, and if you need to know how to hire a comedian for an event, we recommend working with a booking agent to help you work through the process. Here’s why: 

Different comedians have experience with different types of events. You can have a “host” type of comedian perform short routines between the various segments of your event. You can hire a comedian to do a “hot set” of 15-20 minutes as a way to switch it up and keep guests engaged. You could also hire a local or national celebrity comedian to serve as the highlight of the evening. The comedian could be featured on your invitations or marketing materials which will surely get guests excited about attending the event. 

No matter what way you decide to go, just remember to take the time to dig deep and think about the energy and ambiance guests expect to experience, which will help you to choose the type of comedian that would work best for your event. 

Consider the Event’s Budget

Before you brief the comedian, first consider your event’s budget. There’s no point in engaging with a potential entertainer if you are unclear on your budget and how much you can afford. Regarding the comedian’s cost, generally, the more prominent and well-known comedians are in the $75,000-$200,000 range. There are some great well-known comedians in the $50,000 range as well. This is why it’s important to talk about your budget with an agency that is knowledgeable and can help you get the best value for your budget. 

Most corporate event planners recommend spending between 10-15% of your budget on overall entertainment. This means that the budget for your comedian will be shared with any other entertainment you choose for your event. Here are a few other entertainment booking budget factors to consider:

Keynote Speaker: A comedian will not fill the place of a keynote speaker. A comedian is usually hired to entertain guests and fill what would typically be “dead space” with relatable jokes and commentary. A keynote speaker is hired to galvanize and inspire attendees so that they will return to their companies or roles with a new sense of energy, understanding, and excitement. Those feelings (should) encourage the audience to continue to push the company’s mission forward. Ultimately, a comedian cannot take the place of a keynote speaker; therefore, the keynote speaker should also be included in your overall budget. 

Musical entertainment: If you hire a band or DJ, you will need to consider the cost of both acts and decide if you can afford one or both. Many corporate event planners understand that a DJ can be a featured act and support moving the event forward. On the other hand, a band is more of a featured act and should be used as a climactic element of the event. A live band can close the corporate event or even open the event during the reception or a welcome cocktail hour. You can also consider hiring a string quartet if you want more traditional music playing during different times of the event.

Audio / Visual: A corporate event usually has several presentations that require audio/visual equipment and support from technicians. This is still considered entertainment and should be included in your budget allocation. 

Lighting: We cannot stress the importance of using great lighting, especially at a corporate event. Great lighting at a corporate event has several benefits, including:

  • Enhancing the mood and atmosphere (Lighting has a way of setting the mood. If you want guests to get excited or to get serious, you can change the colors that align with that feeling.)
  • Lighting draws attention to where you want guests to focus (You can use different lighting props to highlight the company’s logo on the wall or use lighting to signal where guests should be during different times of the day.)
  • Encouraging social interaction and social sharing (You want your guests to take photos for Instagram and Twitter to help you to promote your next event.)
  • Lighting can support attendee safety measures (Outdoor venue lighting helps guests to find the entrance. Indoor lighting can be used to signal the location of exits.)

Staging: Proper staging not only creates a lasting impression on guests; in most cases, it is necessary to have staging in order to execute the event. Presenters usually have slides that need to be shown to guests, but they still need to be visible above guests’ heads in order to be seen. Staging is not an area you want to scale back on if you are planning a large-scale event. Guests need to be able to see the main attraction, and they cannot do that if the speaker or screen is not elevated.

Photobooth: Photobooths are another great marketing and social media tool, even for corporate events. While rental photo booths may be associated with weddings or less business-oriented events, they have gained popularity among corporate event planners. Photo booths serve as a way to get guests to engage with each other which is what corporate events are about – networking. Most corporate event planners understand the importance of creating “small hubs” throughout the venue that will promote networking opportunities. Fun and creative photo booths help with encouraging guests to get a little comfortable and let their guards down so they will be more inclined to socialize with people they do not know. 

Share the Content Guidelines

Now that you’ve laid out the event’s theme and budget and have them booked, you are ready to brief the comedian on content guidelines and other technical logistics that should be addressed. You may have questions about their material surrounding the repetition of their content, structure, and how they will incorporate your company’s goals into their bit. Here are a few content guidelines to share with your comedian: 

  • If you plan to market other events and initiatives throughout the event, let the comedian know early on so they can find a way to incorporate the information into their content.
  • If you have a keynote speaker and other special presentations, you should also let the comedian know so they can do their own research ahead of time. Most comedians like to have knowledge about the city they’re in, the people they will interact with, and topics so their jokes will align and make sense to the audience. 
  • All products, services, and initiatives should be shared with the comedian ahead of time, and it would probably be wise to gift the comedian with any products and experiences before the event or their performance. Not only will a free gift or product gift basket serve as a grand gesture, but if you are debuting a product or service, the comedian can speak to the audience about their experience, which will be very funny and relatable. 

Communicate your expectations on content repetition

In general, you are hiring a comedian to give you new and fresh content. You don’t want guests to be bored from hearing the same jokes over and over. Generally, a professional comedian should not (and will not) repeat material unless directed. Still, we expect some housekeeping notes to be repeated during a corporate event, especially if the comedian is also serving as the host of the event. 

It is important to share which content you do or do not want to be repeated early on. Map where you want that content to be placed and consider the structure of your overall event and each session before and after the comedian performs. 

Consider the session structure

If you have hired a comedian to perform several times throughout the event, you can let them know whether you would like the same material repeated, especially if different guests will likely migrate in and out of the same area. 

There are some topics you should want the audience to hear over and over. For instance, if you want to promote other event sessions or promote next year’s corporate event, let the comedian know and give them those notes to keep on stage. As they transition on or off the stage, they can also share small housekeeping reminders, like when the open bar closes for the night. 

Communicate the technical logistics of the event

The final step is to communicate the technical details of your corporate event. This may be a back and forth conversation with the comedian or their agent because entertainers usually have a “rider” or a list of their needs in order to perform, and they may have technical requirements to pull off a successful show. It would be best to start with understanding the comedian’s technical rider (do they prefer a certain type of microphone, microphone stand, lighting?), then you can move on to what the hotel or venue’s production offers and ensure everything aligns. If certain requirements do not align, you may have to go back to the planning committee or production team to make adjustments. 

For example, in the early stages of planning, you may have a vision for when you want the comedian to perform, and it may be during a time when you didn’t consider staging or lighting being used for another session in another room. You may have to change the time the comedian performs or rent additional equipment so both rooms will be equipped with the proper lighting and audio equipment. 

Please work with your production and planning team to map everything out before speaking with the comedian’s team, but be open to changes if they have additional needs and requirements for the show. 


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