Choosing a Comic Speaker

by Brad Montgomery

Synopsis: If you're looking for an entertaining speaker to perform at your event, your first thoughts might be to look for professional comedians or humorous speakers. In this article Brad Montgomery, a corporate humorist and motivational speaker, explains why it's a good idea to pick a corporate comedian to make sure the presentation stays clean.

Comedy is a great way to entertain and motivate the attendees at your conference or event. There's a lot of variety out there, though, and I know it's really possible to hire a comedian and expect one thing only to find another. One big difference exists, and that's the gap between the world of stand-up comedians and that of corporate speakers.

bald menCorporate comedians and stand-up comics have very different practices when it comes to language and the cleanliness of their humor. Comedy Clubs, the kinds of locations that are frequented by stand-up comics, have a much different atmosphere than a corporate gathering; you'll find comics cursing, using vulgar words, and just being generally free to have whatever wild antics they want to use to entertain their crowd. In a corporate setting, you probably want the same level of entertainment, but still need your comic to use presentable language and behavior. A company gathering is the natural habitat for the corporate comedian; he'll know what is and isn't okay to say, and will have had lots of practice with similar circumstances. Stand-up comics, on the other hand, will need to censor their normal material to make it appropriate for a kind of environment that they don't see as often. As such, corporate comedians are a better bet for a better-rehearsed, more natural humorous performance.

Another big contrast is in the subject matter that your comic will cover. Stand-up comics are probably used to a topic free-for-all; as long as it's funny, for them it's okay. Corporate comedians should know better than that, and should ask about potentially hostile territory to stay away from in their acts. Of course, there are some subjects that corporate comics know to avoid at any event; potentially offensive issues like gender, race, and sex can upset many people from many walks of life. Again, traditionally stand-up comedians are used to working without parameters – in a comedy club, practically nothing is strictly taboo. In the realm of business entertainment, though, these areas can cause more annoyance or injury than humor. When you go to a comedy club, you go expecting to hear some provocative statements; hiring a speaker to bring to your corporate event, though, you should realize that attendees might be expecting different things. Corporate comedians know how to keep comedy kosher in the business realm. Good corporate comedians will even ask you a few questions, probing areas that might be sensitive, and making sure that their overall act will be as entertaining and successful as possible. Stand-up comics just don't know as well what to ask – in their normal line of work, they don't worry about what is and isn't safe to say.

There's a reason corporate comedians market themselves as such. Humorous business speakers know the business world, and want to distinguish themselves as people capable of delivering a hilarious and appropriate performance. Stand-up comics might be funny too, but can be left to a personal Friday evening comedy club visit rather than a large corporate lunch or conference.

How do you know which comedian to hire?

The first thing you should do is to ask for references. You want a comic with a LONG track record working for business, corporate, and association audiences. You want a comedian who has been booked BACK to the same clients many times. And you want a comedian who can offer contact names and phone numbers of recent clients who will rave about him. (Or her.)

-Don't be afraid to ask your potential comic if he has worked clean in the past.

-Be concerned if most of your potential comedian's recent experience is in night clubs. They might be hilarious; but they might also be a headache in the making.

-Consider booking a comedian who is a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional.) This is the highest earned award from the National Speakers Association.) It is the mark of a true pro whom you can count on.

Bottom line? If you are looking for some hilarity for your corporate meeting or convention don't risk hiring anybody who doesn't have the skill and expertise to not only be funny… but to be safe and business appropriate.

Copyright 2005 By Brad Montgomery. May be reprinted with permission. Brad Montgomery, CSP, is a corporate comedian, humorous motivational speaker & corporate entertainer. Using his own blend of Hilarious Humor, as well as his Award-Winning magic, Brad reminds us that our lives are Fun & Funny, and Filled with Magic. Brad urges his groups to use humor and spontaneity to rediscover the 'magic' in our lives, our homes, and our jobs. Brad’s clients use him to open or close the convention, or for making their group smile somewhere in between.

Reach Brad at 800.624.4280 or www.BradMontgomery.com