How to Choose the Best Comedian for Your Event

How to Choose the Best Comedian for Your Event

8 min read
Is comedy the remedy your event needs?

Do you shy away from hiring a comedian because they might push it too far with an f-bomb or offensive comment? Fair call, because a mismatched comedian – or one that hasn’t been briefed properly – can polarise the room, and that’s no laughing matter.

It’s a shame, however, to miss out on the huge benefits of comedy for business. Discover how to keep your audience listening, laughing and loving every minute of your event with these clever comedy hacks.

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Index

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First, Harness the Happy Hormones

Comedy is one of the most powerful ways to bring people closer to a common goal. A good laugh brings with it a rush of endorphins – something you can use to great advantage!

  • Reduce everyone’s stress! Great for health and productivity
  • Grab audience attention to help get your messages across
  • Give life to presentations that could otherwise be, well, a bit ‘dry’
  • Laughter shared in a room breaks down barriers and helps people connect with one another

Plus, your audience will feel happier and more connected with their workplace and your cause than ever before.


PRO-TIP:In your search you’ll find comedians as headliners and corporate comedians:

Headline comedians have a higher public profile and are active on the comedy circuit. They have more crowd-pulling power which is reflected in their fee.

  • PROS: Want to get people to your event? Headliners have tremendous pulling power!
  • CONS: That high profile comes at a price. Unless vetted and briefed, they can venture into controversial topics.

Corporate comedians specialise in corporate events, and are very experienced at appealing to a broader audience. They’re always a safe option, and will work with budget.

  • PROS: All that corporate experience means they’ll play it safe – no venturing into taboo topics.
  • CONS: Safe can sometimes translate to bland. Great comedy needs an edge!

Next, Get to Know Your Audience

We all know that different jokes appeal to different folk. When choosing a comedian – as with any speaker or entertainer – this step is always vital: know your audience.

Understanding a group’s demographics will reveal their tastes, interests and expectations. To start, consider the audience’s average:

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Profession
  • Industry
  • Level of education

When you think about it, the right comedian for a construction industry sales convention would be quite a different choice than for a large global bank’s awards night.

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Although a good speaker bureau will always recommend a comedian that suits your audience, it’s good event management practice for you to understand the thinking behind the scenes.

Then, Check a Comedian’s Style

Once you have a solid grasp on the audience, it’s time to think about the comedy style. What type of personality and skillset will deliver the most value? There are so many styles of comedy, but here are our “big five”.

PRO-TIP: Most comedians cross over two, three, sometimes even four of these styles.
1. The Observationist

A safe choice for corporate events, the observationalist makes light of situations we experience in life.

Their gift is to find the funny in little things, like Seinfeld talking about, well, life! And Louis CK has a knack of getting the audience to empathise, with humour as merely the tool. Here he is talking about Gen Z using today’s technology.



2. The Brainiac

As intelligent as they are entertaining, the Brainiac comedian is usually the smartest person in the room. Expect a whirlwind of quick wit, wordplay, and points so deftly articulated you’ll feel your IQ rise as you watch!

When it comes to brainiacs, it’s hard to pass up Stephen Fry, who is arguably one of the brightest minds of our time.



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3. The Satirist

You don’t have to read Animal Farm by George Orwell to appreciate good satire. Or go as dark. A satirical master reveals irony on a subject, sometimes using clever sarcasm.

When a satirist entertains a corporate crowd, it’s almost always a playful send-up, and a clever one doesn’t have to be offensive to be effective.

Here’s evidence that Tim Minchin can satirise almost anything, and Bryan Dawe and John Clarke offer all sorts of insights in their interviews on ABC TV.



4. The Character

Based on a funny persona invented by the comedian, often sending up stereotypes. Character comedians can produce a riveting show, as is the case of Dame Edna Everege.

They can also be great for roving, interacting with guests. Picture your crowd cracking up at lady larrikins Kath & Kim, mincing about, chatting to the peeps, pointing out “it’s noice, it’s unusual, it’s different.”



5. The Physical Comedian

Arguably the most primordial form of humour (it pre-dates even verbal humour), physical comedy uses a real or imaginary sense of play.

They use physical movement and gestures for comedic effect – watch Joel Ozborn fit his body through the head of a tennis racquet, and David Armand mime the words to “We Are the Champions”.

And Will Ferrell accepts the Mark Twain Comedy Award in an unexpected way.



How to Brief a Comedian

Although your speaker bureau will brief the talent on your behalf, it’s important to clarify the role you’d like the comedian to play.

With proper briefing, a professional comedian will modulate their language and adapt their material to support your business goals and audience needs.


Things to consider:

  • Do you need tight scripting or off-the-cuff humour?
  • What messages do you want to deliver to the audience?
  • Are there any ‘no-go’ areas or sensitive topics?
  • Do you want your audience to immediate relate to the performer, or to be challenged to a different way of thinking?
  • Is the comedian is a good fit with your brand/corporate values?
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It’s a Twofer! Your Comedian as MC

Here’s the hard truth – even the most brilliantly funny comedian won’t always translate to being an awesome event host. Why? Being an MC is an art unto itself – the MC holds the event together, providing structure and flow.

Nobody wants to hear a dull presenter rambling through 50 awards without some light relief! Luckily, there are comedians out there who are also brilliant MCs.

Along with the laughs, they will:

  • Keep the event running smoothly and on time
  • Be able to pronounce tricky names
  • Think on their feet and not just stick to a script
  • Hold the audience attention with laughter and light relief


Having your comedian as MC is a great option to bring your event to life, not to mention quite slimming from a budget point of view!

How to Keep it Clean

Have you seen a comedian in action and thought, ‘way too rude, too over-the-top for my audience’?

What you see online is usually a no-holds-barred public show at a comedy festival or the like. These clips are a country mile from the customised shows a comedian performs in the corporate world, which are very rarely made available to the public.

Laughing Out Loud

Comedians add punch to corporate events in a way that other types of entertainment just can’t match. Laughter is a sure-fire way to spark audience interest and put an extra spring in their step for days.

If you get to know your audience, then brief the comedian accordingly, you’re well on your way to harnessing the power of laughter what will take your event to a whole new realm.

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About the Author

Gav George

When his school music teacher loaned him a cassette tape (yes, he’s that old) of a fusion band, Gav entered the jazz world after years of classical music training.

He was lucky enough to play with some of the greatest living jazz musicians and toured key festivals.

Then Enhance founder Alison Clarke called on Gav to work on the company’s marketing. This led him to his new passion of… marketing! Gav oversees Enhance’s marketing initiatives, gets a kick out of connecting with clients and unearthing new talent.

Gav still has that cassette tape, so if his music teacher reads this, please get in touch so he can return it.

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