Use humor to get corporate gigs – Part 2

I just completed a comedy workshop and also, I’m reading your book How To Be A Working Comic. I would also like to learn about humorous presentations and keynote opportunities. – Sincerely, EM

Okay, if you’re following along that’s the same question from our last newsletter.

Or Part 2?

You’ll also remember the answer was getting a bit long and the executive decision (mine) was made to break it up into two parts. If you’d like to check out Part 1 just scroll down or check out my last email.

To continue where we left off…

Now, before you shake your head and think I’m nuts because there’s “no way” you could ever relate to corporate event themes, here’s a news update:

Chances are you can.

I say that because I’ve worked with and watched dozens of talented local and national comedians turn themselves into corporate comedians or humorists by taking their comedy material and focusing it on the audience and the event.

They’ve done this through simple research. Usually by emailing a short survey to the event planner or a phone interview with the client. They find out the “theme” for the event, the company’s product and the focus of the conference training seminars. Then they can take this information and see how his/her existing comedy material relates.

Okay, stop it…

Stop shaking your head because I’m not done yet. For example…

If you have a family, you’re probably an “expert” on communications, team building and customer service. Yeah, it may sound ridiculous because it might only be about communicating with your parents, spouse, kids or other relatives. But since these are important topics within the “business world” and focused on during the conference, your performance would be “entertainment” that is based on the “theme.”

The topics are the same.

You’re just relating to them in a different way as a humorist. Put focus on the conference theme (ex: the importance of communicating) and how you deal with it on a personal level (ex: “I don’t understand how my family communicates”) and it becomes info-tainment.

Are you still shaking your head? I’ll continue…

A couple years ago I did a breakout session at a medical conference. And here’s a confession – I ain’t no doctor. But one of the conference topics was stress relief. I’m a comedy coach and talk about humor. One of the benefits of humor is relieving stress. I was the only person in the room without a medical degree, white coat and stethoscope – and probably the only one that got paid for that particular hour. I made sure my topic – finding humor in stressful situations – related to their event.

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My topic, or expertise, was a good example of what the doctors were talking about in their training seminars (info) and we had more than a few laughs (entertainment).

The event planner may have hired a big-time keynote speaker or high-priced entertainer for a highlight event during the conference, but to make it a highlight they would probably need big-time doctor credentials (keynote) or television credits (entertainer). If you can compete for those gigs, then go for it. Otherwise, start thinking about how your comedy expertise can get you booked for one of the many other (paying) speaker opportunities.

A stand-up comedian who doesn’t customize his material for the event can still get hired as the entertainment. A humorous speaker can be hired for keynotes, training seminars, break out sessions – and as the entertainment.

What this means is that you don’t need to work laughs into a strict business training program about… well, corporate stuff such as taxes, law, productivity, networking, increasing sales and all that. If you have experience in those fields and can speak as a “trainer” with humor you should be in demand. But even if you don’t, you might have comedy material that is relatable to those topics. So, find a creative way to relate what you already talk about to the audience and the event.

This is another way of saying know your audience.

Motivational Speaker

The topic of the conference could be anything from business techniques such as learning power point or relieving office stress, to more personal topics like juggling a family and a career, to improving your golf game.

Were you ever a parent, child, golfer, lawyer, teacher, minister, truck driver, bartender or anything other than a comedian? Then you have a business or personal topic you can share. Talk about your business or personal experiences (I’ll bet you already do in your act) while making it funny and entertaining, and you’ll be considered a humorous speaker.

For example…

I’m sure a comedian with teaching experience would have some very funny stories and advice to share if team-building was a corporate breakout session topic. So would soccer moms and dads, military vets, sports fans, frat boys, factory workers, gang members – and anyone else that has ever been part of a team.

This also works if you have a particular message.

Have you or anyone close to you survived a disease, injury or other tragedy? I hate to list those suggestions as moneymakers, but I’ve seen many comedians on the corporate and college circuits turning negatives into positives as humorous motivational speakers. If your story can help someone else – then it’s worthy of telling. And if you can make it entertaining, your audience will tend to listen and “get” your message. The same idea holds true for insights on bullying, alcohol awareness and other important topics. Do you have experience in these fields? Talk, share, motivate, teach, train and entertain as a comedian.

That’s what sells in the corporate market.

The idea is not to be limited to only going for the corporate entertainment gigs that seem to peak during holidays and slow down the rest of the year. If your material and performance is relatable to the event and funny, you’ll find more opportunities for work.

I’ll talk more about this topic in the coming weeks because I have a lot to share. But here’s another big chunk of advice that I’ve shared numerous times in earlier newsletters.

Keep it clean!

For corporate shows, we’re talking G and PG (at the max) rated. Don’t even try to test that warning in an attempt to prove me wrong. You won’t – and you also won’t work corporate gigs where you can make more money in an hour than you can during an entire weekend at a comedy club.

And if you remember how we started in Part 1 of this discussion, that’s a correct answer to a big-money topic. And now for my brilliant callback…

I guess I should’ve been a game show host.

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Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

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