Comedy is often a great addition to an event - whether it's a business meeting or conference, a birthday party, wedding reception or any other event.
If you're organising any of these events and are looking to book a comedian you will find the information below very useful. We'll discuss how to set up the room, when to put the comedy element into your event and the differences between having a single act and more acts as part of the show.
Length of show
A comedy club show with a compere and three acts usually lasts around two and a half hours with intervals. This is perfect for anyone wanting to organise a whole evening of comedy - the audience are coming along expecting to be entertained for an evening and, with the correct acts for your audience, the event should be a success.
If you are planning an event where comedy is only one element of the proceedings then you need to carefully consider where, and for how long, comedy will fit into this event.
We often receive enquiries from people wanting to hire one comedian to entertain them for an hour, as part of an evening where there is food, maybe a presentation and a party afterwards. We are happy to provide book a comedian for an hour performance but we get people to think this through very carefully beforehand.
The following points should be considered:
Is one hour of comedy the right length?
If you are organising an event for a group of people, some of them may never have been to a comedy show before, some may not really want comedy as part of their event - how many of them will want to sit down for a whole hour?
We all have our favourite comedians - very successful acts that are hugely popular, but you can't please all of the people all of the time - millions of people enjoy the comedy of Lee Evans or Michael McIntyre, for example, but you don't have to go very far to find someone that cannot stand them. Translate that into your night - imagine a very good professional comedian at the top of their game - now imagine if some in your audience don't appreciate their comedy stylings - would you want them to sit there for an hour?
We believe variety or brevity is the answer here - hire two or three comedians to fill up the hour or just one act doing a much shorter set. Everyone will have their favourite act from the evening. We'd recommend a single comedian performs for 30 minutes maximum.
Room Set Up
Going back to the scenario where you hire one comedian on their own as part of an evening of various elements. Let's look at it from the comedian's point of view.
You turn up at the venue. Everyone is having their dinner. The lights are full on, the audience is spread all around the room. There is no music playing and all you can hear is the chatter of people and clinking of cutlery.
Dinner plates get cleared away and the person running the event says 'Right, you're on!'
Being a professional act you will do your best to entertain people, but you have a huge task ahead of you - get everyone to stop talking, get them to listen to you and stay listening to you, then once you've got them listening - get them to like you (even though you've told them to stop doing whatever they were doing) then get them to start laughing.
Of course this can be done - it's what professional acts do week in week out - but it requires a great amount of skill - compare this to a well run comedy night where the room is set out as described with the correct Technical Set Up and Room Set Up.
This is where having the room set up well, the lights dimmed - so that the focus is already on the comedian - and having upbeat music playing beforehand helps.
Why do we need a compere?
Let's get back into the shoes of the single comedian.
Imagine this time that the room is very well set up - the lights are dimmed, upbeat music playing, light and sound on stage is in good working order - and everyone is seated and ready for comedy.
In this scenario the odds are better, but the comedian cannot just walk on stage and start telling jokes. The audience will need to be warmed up - a little bit of banter between comedian and audience - the act getting to know different personalities in the room - who may want to be picked on - who may not - what sort of comedy the audience likes - what they don't find acceptable. Once they have sussed out the audience, and knows a bit more about the background and tastes then they set off doing a comedy routine - knowing which jokes to keep in and those to avoid to suit the audience.
Again this actually requires two different skill sets - audience interaction/warm-up and telling jokes. In an ideal scenario the comedian would walk onto stage knowing all the above information about the audience, and before they have even uttered a word to them.
One Act or More?
This is where having a professional comedian with Compering skills is very useful, and why we recommend hiring at least two comedians.
Ideally the Compere will have helped the first act know everything they need to know about the audience. Even in the worst scenario where the Compere has had a tough time of it and the first ten minutes have been a bit of a struggle (imagine if you'd only booked the one act and both the audience and comedian have to endure another 50 minutes of torture!) - then even the change of personnel will be a relief to the audience - giving the first act a head-start and they will have learned what wasn't working.
In the ideal scenario, the Compere has done a perfect job and the audience are warmed up and laughing, the first act just needs to come on and carry that momentum.
Once the act has finished, the Compere will come back on - and if you've booked a third comedian the room will be in the perfect position for that act to come on and finish your show with a bang.
Three acts have been on stage and an hour has flown past.
That's why we ask people to consider very carefully if they want an act for one hour - and why the cost for one act can be more or about the same as having three acts.