How to Hire a Comedian - Points to Consider when Choosing a Comic
1. COMMON SENSE: Like most things, when choosing a professional comedian using common sense is very important. Does the comedian's style and material fit your audience? Do they have the experience you require? Do they have a professional promotional package? Do you think they are funny? These are important aspects to look for in selecting the comedian that will be right for your event and go a long way towards making your event a success.
2. COMEDIAN VERSUS MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: Are you looking for a speaker that delivers jokes or a humorous story with a message. Comics typically have acts where the humor comes at a fast pace, often two set-up lines followed by a punch line. Motivational speakers and humorists on the other hand, typically delivers humor with a message: Story, relevant point, story, relevant point. Motivational speakers will most likely ask you what percentage of humor versus motivational content you desire for your event.
3. FEES: Fees for hiring a comedian or speaker can vary by a multitude of factors, including how many and length of the performance(s), audience size, location, day of the week, and the type of event you are booking. There is normally a correlation between a performer’s fee and the quality of the program. Just as you wouldn't expect a $5 happy meal to be comparable to a $100 gourmet dinner, you wouldn’t think that a $200 comic might be similar to one who charges $4000. The old adage holds true; You get what you pay for. And consider this: You often pay many times more for the meal than for the entertainer (on a per person basis), when in fact the evening's entertainment is far more likely to be remembered than the meal. Consider the true value-per-person-attending when deciding on your entertainment budget.
4. PROMOTIONAL PACKAGE: When choosing a comedian for your event it is a good idea to request a promotional package from everyone you’re considering and compare them. Normally, the more professional the promotional package, the more professional the comedian. Promotional packages may include brochures, photos, articles, testimonials, client listings, DVD or tapes of performances, and more.
5. WEB SITE: If the comedian has one, checking out their web site will give you an instant "brochure" to help you make a decision.
6. TESTIMONIALS: Testimonials can you an indication of quality. When you have narrowed your choices, you can ask for the names and phone numbers of a few recent clients who had similar events as yours. Call them and ask questions. Read between the lines and listen for genuine enthusiasm in their voice when talking about their experience with the comedian.
7. AUDIO AND VIDEO TAPES: All of our comedians have demo tapes or DVDs, either audio or video. The audio or video demo will never be YOUR exact program, but watch the tape for genuine audience response and performing style. Demos should have performances before a live audience with no canned laughter.
8. VIEW A PERFORMANCE: If possible try to watch the performer in a live performance before hiring. Although this is often not possible, you could ask if they are performing in your area in the near future. Most comedians will not "audition" for a single-date performance, but you might be able to attend someone else's program.
9. AWARDS: Although awards are normally a good flag, you just never know the true significance of the award received by the performer. Some awards are highly significant and others may be of minor importance.
10. COMEDIAN’S EXPERIENCE: How long has the comedian been performing? Does the comedian entertain full-time (earning a living as a performer) or part-time (with a full-time day job)? These considerations may or may not have a great impact on the quality of the performance.
11. BLUE MATERIAL: You may be concerned about the "G-rated" nature of the material and how it may fit with your audience. Talk to the performer about your concerns about program content (sexual, bodily function, racial or religious jokes, for example).
12. CUSTOMIZATION: While talking with the comedian, you will want to get a feel for their customization skills. What kind of questions is the comedian asking YOU about the audience? Is the comedian wanting you to provide "inside information" about the audience in advance of the program? Not every act needs customization but some comedians specialize in adding a personal touch.
13. ROOM SETUP: Ask the comedian what you will need to provide at the venue: Risers/platform, sound system, lighting, projection equipment etc. Many comedians will not speak from behind a lectern or podium but prefer having an open platform so they can be seen easily by the entire audience. Ensure that someone else, a band for example, does not set up in the space reserved for the comedian. Beware of tall table centerpieces (balloons for example) as they will block the view of many in the audience.
14. GUARANTEES: You will probably not see the word "guarantee" in the comedian's promotional package. Will they guarantee your satisfaction? You could ask them. For the true professional a guarantee is a no-risk proposition.
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