How to Hire a Comedian For Your Events: A Step by Step Guide
Planning Your Corporate Event and Entertainment
The first step is identifying the event type and planning some key details.
Is it a fundraiser?
An after dinner show?
A sales Meeting or Awards Banquet?
Trade Show? or other?
Understanding the event and the audience will help determine what comedian is best and also allow you to look for a comedian that has experience with that type of events.
While comedy is all about making the audience laugh and have a great time, there are different comedians for different types of events and audiences. Comedians can act as the emcee or they can strictly perform a routine. Some comedians do better in short spots, designed to give the crowd a little break and keep their energy up. Others prefer a longer set and want to engage with the guests.
If your event is going to be getting a lot of exposure and attention, a celebrity comedian could be the way to go. Not only do you get the laughs, but the audience will be thrilled to have a celebrity in their midst.
Second, decide on the amount of time.
Depending on your agenda and goals for your event, you can determine how long you need the entertainment to be. Typically a comedian will do a 40-55 minute show. If you want a longer show, adding an opening act is a great way to add more time and add another personality to delight your audience. Adding an opening act will make the show about 90 minutes. If want an emcee, you can plan on the show being 105 minutes.
Are you planning on an after dinner show? If so, 45 minutes is about right.
A comedian emcee may be there 2 hours introducing awards or speakers and sharing their funny material at the beginning and in between.
Third, look at your demographics.
Are there an equal part of men and women?
Are they conservative, or more liberal?
What are the ages present?
Are they current and hip or a little more old school?
Understanding the audience is crucial to finding the right comedian for your event.
Fourth, decide on your budget range.
This is very important. Budget will determine what you get. If you are unsure of costs associated with hiring a comedian, working with a talent agency is the best way to make sure you don’t go wrong.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the cost of event entertainment. In general, the bigger name, 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.
If you budget is more in the $5,000-$10,000 or $10,000-$20,000 range, you can get great corporate experienced entertainers with credits.
Your initial research will be quicker and smoother if you have a budget range in mind. Rather than waste time looking at comedians that are outside your range, you can use our quick search tool that filters comedians by budget range.
Remember to factor in some additional entertainment expenses into your budget like travel, lodging, and rider requirements. Sometimes comedians ask for that to be put on top of their fee or offer a buy-out.
I’ve been sharing tips that include working with a booking agency, simply because if you are new to this process, it can be time consuming and overwhelming.
Comedy booking agencies that specialize in your type of event will suggest the right entertainer and they also bring all their buying power – getting you the best pricing. They also have a vetted list of professionals that they know will be professional.
If you choose to hire a big name comedian, they will handle all negotiations, contracts and riders to help you prepare for the event.
Conduct A Search for the Best Comedic Act for Your Event
Now that you know the type of event, the length of the performance and your budget, you can start to narrow your options. Once you select a stand up comedian that fits your criteria, read their bio and watch any video that is available. Make note of what you like and don’t like and any questions you have. After you watch a bunch of videos, they will begin to blur – your notes will help you.
Keep in mind that a 5-10 minute video clip won’t tell you everything you need to know about the comedian. Sometimes video footage highlights the very best of the comedian. Remember, your entertainer has a longer time slot to fill. Ensure you get insight into the entire show. Read reviews and comments and ideally, work with a talent booking agency that knows what talent is best for the length of time you need.
We’ve seen clients come to us after previous bad experiences – in some cases the show was much shorter than they anticipated and in other cases, the show was so bad, they wanted it to end early. The risk of relying solely on video clips is high. Don’t risk your event success.
Contact Your Comedian, Their Agent or a Booking Agency
The next step in hiring a comedian is to make contact to determine if the comedian you are interested in is available on your event date and within your budget range
The further away your event date is, the more likely the comedian’s calendar will be open and available to take offers.
Now is the time to dig a little deeper into the reputation of the comedian you want to hire. Check with credible references, look at the history of their shows.
You want to feel very confident in you choice, before you proceed to the next steps.
Once you feel ready, it’s time to…
Make an Offer
The level of the talent will determine the process – but typically you are going to deal with an agent and the more information you provide, the better. At a minimum, you will include the date, type of event, length of performance and your payment offer. You will include any specific payment terms and any additional expenses that are necessary.
Without those details, a busy agent is likely to deem you not serious and not make your offer a priority. Hiring a comedian is serious business!
Once the offer is accepted, it’s time to move to the contract.
Hiring A Comedian – The Contract
The agent may have a contract they want to use, if not, you will need to provide a contract and include the terms. There is usually some back and forth during this phase. New requests may come up, on both sides, once everything is seen in the contract. This phase sometimes becomes stressful to the person coordinating the event. Take it slow and be sure you understand every step of the way.
Many people opt to work with a booking agency to ensure their rights are protected and to save time. Fully reviewing a contract is time consuming – the peace of mind that comes from an agency’s experience in contracts is worth every penny. Tell us about your event, if you’d like more information on how we can help.
Type of Comedians Available for Hire
There are countless types of comedians, with material suited for your audience. Just some of the comic acts you can hire are:
Stand-up: These are the comedians most people think of when you hear the word comedian. As defined by Wikipedia: Stand-up comedy is a comic style in which a comedian performs in front of a live audience, usually speaking directly to them. The performer is commonly known as a comic, stand-up comic, comedian, comedienne, stand-up comedian, or simply a stand-up. There is usually some spontaneity and live interaction.
Funny Business stand-up comedian Jim Breuer, has 20+ years of stand-up comedy experience. Learn more about stand-up comic Jim Breuer now.
Clean: Clean comedians can range from stand-up, corporate etc. The only difference is, their material is clean. Audience members of any age can enjoy the show.
Funny Business clean comedian Brad Upton is a 25 year veteran, that will have your audience laughing uncontrollably. Check Brad Upton out now.
Corporate: Corporate comedians have experience in entertaining a corporate audience. The material is geared towards the audience at the corporate event.
Funny Business corporate comedian Andy Hendrickson will be a hit with your corporate audience. Check him out now.
Celebrity: We all know there are some pretty funny celebrities out there. Image the comic act at your next event being a celebrity. Your audience will love it. Celebrity comedians do cost more – but you get what you pay for. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.
Female and male comedians: Just a reminder that both male and female comedians are available. Historically speaking, male comedians have been more prevalent. However, the number of female comedians is increasing and they are hilarious.
Jewish, Irish, Indian, etc comedians: Funny Business has a vast network of talent and can connect you with comedians from various backgrounds and ethnicities.
Improv/Skit: We provide the best Improv comedians from well known TV shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “Second City.” Our network of improv and ski comedians is top notch. Your guests will love the quick wit and creative talent of the comedians.
Musical: When you are looking for something a little different – high energy and high impact – consider a musical comedian. Music combined with humor engages an audience like no other. A musical comedian works for almost any type of event.
Master of Ceremonies: A professional emcee hosts your event, they keep it running smoothly, on time and also ensure they entertain your audience. Emcees help:
Comfortably present and introduce acts, speakers, and activities
Direct the attention of attendees and guide them through the event
Dry Bar: Clean, always fresh and never boring! Dry bar comedians are appropriate for any audience. Dry bar comedy is a sure fit for most events and venues. The key to a successful event is always the quality of the entertainer. Be sure you do the proper research to select your corporate event entertainment.
Conferences: These are an extension of corporate events. You have a large group of people learning and networking – the entertainment break is refreshing and memorable for conference attendees.
Sales Meetings: Much like the other events listed, sales meetings can be intensely focused and a break to enjoy a comedic act is welcomed by your team.
Trade Shows: Gather a bunch of people to network, learn and spend the day(s) immersed in industry talk and you are bound to see people getting a little restless at times. A great show allows everyone to unwind and relax and it also creates an experience they can bond over.
Award Banquets/Celebration Galas: The upbeat enthusiasm at an awards banquet lends itself perfectly to an entertaining act. Everyone is there to celebrate and enjoy themselves. A good, hearty laugh is a perfect addition to the night.
Fundraisers: With a room full of people ready to give money to your important cause, warming them up with some laughter is a great way to ensure they enjoy themselves and it may even compel them to give a little more.
Hotels/Resorts: Guests are away from home, with a goal of enjoying themselves as much as possible – even if they are there on business. A great comedian in a lounge or show room is a great way to help them unwind and will likely help you sell some more booze and food. 😉 Comedy Get-Away weekends are a win for the hotel – filling rooms during the slow season and a win for guests who want to do something a little different and fun.
Casinos: Casinos are all about people coming to let loose and have a good time. They drink, eat and gamble – it’s an escape from everyday life. Throw in some great entertainment and you’ve improved the experience and increased the likelihood they will be back!
Cruise Ships: Cruise ships are synonymous with comedy shows and great entertainment. Impress with the very best and people will be sure to talk – creating more exposure for you!
Comedy Clubs: Having trouble finding top acts? Hire from our proven talent to ensure your audience gets the best show possible.
Open House: Open Houses are a great place to introduce some entertainment. Typically an Open House will have some ambient music in the background. Create a special and unexpected experience for guests by arranging for a great comedian to bring laughter and fun to the event.
How to Choose A Comedian For Your Event
As we talked about before, relying solely on a 5-10 minute video is a risky way to evaluate a comedian. You need to be sure the comedian you hire is good to fill a full 50-70 minutes for your audience. You also need to know that they have experience with your type of event and audience. It’s good to check references and ask for details about their experiences. Trust your gut – you know your event and audience, if someone doesn’t feel right, look for someone else.
Working with a booking agency is invaluable in this process. When you are spending good money and your event success and reputation has a lot to do with the entertainment, you don’t want to leave things to chance. A booking agency knows their acts and the experience those acts have. They can help you select a good match – easing your stress.
Going with a big name comedian is typically a sure way to know the quality you are going to get. However, not everyone has the budget for the big names. It is possible to find a lower cost comedian to hire and still get the highest quality and professionalism.
Important Tips For Hiring A Comedian For A Wedding, Party, Corporate Event and more
Discuss the event – ensure your comedian is comfortable with the material, the venue, the audience and your expectations. Communication – either with the act or with your booking agency is key to making sure there are no last minute disasters or disappointments.
Make sure the timing works – typically entertainment should follow dinner. Make sure your entertainer can make that timing work. Sometimes they will want dinner and will arrive early.
Arrange a place for your act to get settled and ready for the show. They need a dressing room or some other space to follow whatever pre-show prep they need to do.
Tackle the equipment needed early in the process – talk to the venue and see what is available through them. Anything that is not, can be rented. Ensure your performer lets you know exactly what they need. You’ll also want to talk to the venue to learn their policy for equipment delivery and set up. Those little details can make a big difference in how smooth things go for your event.
Some important questions to ask (of the book agency or the talent directly):
What do you rate your style of comedy (G, PG, PG-13, R)?
What comedian(s) inspired your work the most?
How long have you been in comedy?
Can I have the contact information of at least three previous clients?
What are your technical requirements?
Can you personalize my show?
Why do you perform?
Comedy Booking Agencies
There are various booking agencies out there. If you are looking to hire a comedian for an event, you are best to work with an agency that has experience with comedians. If the talent agency works with comedians a lot, they will have a large network of acts – making it easier for you to find the right one for your event and date. Specializing in comedy shows ensures that not only will the network be large but there will be all varieties of comedians and the agency will have the in-depth knowledge of both the performer and comedy in general. They can help ensure you get the best match.
Funny Business has been doing this for 30+ years and we have one of the biggest networks of comedians – not only do we have them in our database, but we actually build relationships as we work with them. It makes the process of hiring a comedian easier for you. We have the process down.
Due to our expertise and reputation in the industry, we are the sole provider of comedians for Gilda Radner’s LaughFest annually. We are proud of this very special role we play in the event – especially since we worked hard to build this agency. An honor like that shows that our great work has paid off. You’ll find our logo in the bottom right of the site.
Step one: decide what type of event you want. Step two: determine length of performance. Steo three: look at your audience demographics to determine what entertainment would be the best fit. There are countless types of comedians, from celebrity to clean, corporate, Christian, college, stand-up, emcee and more. Step four: determine budget. Step five: select a talent book agency or search for comedians on your own. Step six: reach out to determine the availability of the comedian. Step seven: after an agreement has been reached on availability and price, send the contract. Step eight: Ensure you lock in venue, determine what equipment is needed and promote your event.