The past two FAQs And Answers have been about booking holiday parties. Specifically, the higher paying corporate events. I’m always looking for feedback and happy to pass along experienced advice that can be helpful for other comedians and humorous speakers. So if you ever want to join in on the conversation, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comedian Dave Glardon did that and (with his permission) I’ve designated him this week’s “guest columnist.” I’m sure you’ll find his experiences in the corporate holiday market helpful. And when you finish reading, check out his website at www.daveglardon.com.
Thanks for sharing Dave!
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One thing I’d add. I’ve learned over the years never to believe the party coordinator when they say “give us your club show” because all it takes is one semi-prude in the room and things can spiral down really fast. That happened on my first corp gig, a retirement party. They asked me to keep it semi-clean, but in two separate emails reminded me that there would be no kids there and “please don’t baby us – we’re all adults“.
Yeah. The first time I said “ass” the room went dead silent, and stayed that way for the remainder of my set.
I learned pretty quickly that in a corporate gig you have one person to please, and that’s the boss or the guest of honor. If they’re not laughing, nobody’s laughing. And if the company prude is getting visibly upset, the boss tends to stop laughing pretty fast.
So add one more to the “must please” list.
A few years ago I did two holiday shows in the same weekend – one for a group of women from various trucking companies, and another for a construction company. Both told me to just do my normal set. I was most concerned about the women, so I started off easy and tested the waters a bit. Every time I went a little dirty, they howled. So I ended up giving them my best club set and they treated me like a comedy god.
The next night for the construction company, I started off doing the same set. Before my set I sensed a lot of tension in the room, and I noticed as the owner moved around, nobody except his son and girlfriend approached him. During the show, they were seated at the front with their backs to the room. The boss chuckled at most of my jokes, but not enough that anyone could tell. Nobody else laughed at anything except when I picked on one of their competitors.
Found out later they’d just had a big lay-off and the VP thought a comedian would relieve some tension and improve morale. Thanks!
Anyway, I’ve learned to turn down the ones that tell me they want adult humor, or at least talk them out of it, because the odds of bombing are about five times greater.
If you want me for a frat party, we’ll get down and dirty.
Company Christmas party? It’s snowflakes and glitter.
There is so much to learn in this business and, after 11 years and about 1000 shows, what I’ve learned is that I still have an awful lot to learn. I just appreciate the fact that you do what you can to give the newer folks constructive and honest advice, while discouraging things that only serve to pollute the pool for the rest of us.
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I avoid most corporate and holiday gigs right now because I’m a club comic. Last year I rocked the house at the Stardome six nights in a row, but that was a well-honed club set that took me years to develop. When it comes to the private events, I normally pass along the name of someone better suited.
Last year a company contacted me about their holiday show. The year before they had a comedic magician, and he was already booked. That set off all kinds of red flags with me, and I told them they’d probably be better suited with someone else.
The woman insisted she’d heard I was really funny, and this is an adult party, so I should be fine.
I sent her a link to my full feature set from the Stardome. She emailed the next day to say that probably was a little rough for their party. I put her in touch with a couple of other guys. One was a comedic magician.
And Dave, the thing is, I’m not really dirty. Most bookers describe me as PG to mild R, depending on which jokes I use and which ones I leave out. I use a few words here and there that I can cut out with no problem, but my material still deals with adult topics with a lot of innuendo. I’d say 90% of my set could be done on network TV without giving censors a heart attack.
But to the point you made very clearly, adult audiences don’t always enjoy adult humor, especially in a more dignified setting. Sometimes all they want is Santa Claus and the little drummer boy.
Anyway, I’m glad you tackled this topic. It needed to be said.
And my web URL … oddly enough, it’s www.daveglardon.com. Imagine that! :-)
Dave’s next comedy workshop at The CHICAGO Improv
Starts Saturday – November 8, 2014
Includes an evening performance at The Chicago Improv on…
Wednesday, December 3rd
Visit WEBSITE for details, reviews and to register now!
Dave Schwensen is the author of How To Be A Working Comic: An Insider’s Business Guide To A Career In Stand-Up Comedy, Comedy FAQs And Answers: How The Stand-Up Biz Really Works, and Comedy Workshop:Creating & Writing Comedy Material for Comedians & Humorous Speakers.
For details about upcoming comedy workshops at the Chicago and Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs, and private coaching by Skype or phone visit www.TheComedyBook.com
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