Living Room Laughs has put on hundreds of custom corporate comedy shows in offices and offsite venues. Here's our best practices for setting up your private comedy show in your office to be a huge success.
NO SURPRISE SHOWS
Your employees and coworkers should know there will be a comedy show in advance. There’s nothing worse than when a group of colleagues are socializing, drinking, and having a good time and then, without any warning, the boss says, “Stop talking! Kill the music! Focus! It’s time for a comedy show, surprise!” Comedians call this an ambush show, and nobody likes to be ambushed. You want the audience seated, prepped, and ready to have a good time.
On your invite, give the start time of the party AND the start time of the show. For example, “Drinks and light apps at 7pm, comedy show starts promptly at 7:30pm.” This way if employees come in more than fashionably late and interrupt the show, it'll be their fault, not yours!
It’s called standup comedy because the comedian is standing up, not the audience. Get your headcount and setup one chair per guest. Having people stand pulls focus from the comic and can feel uncomfortable. If they're standing around, they're more likely to think, “Maybe I’ll catch five minutes of the show and then sneak out to respond to my Slack messages.” You want the audience comfortably seated, engaged, and ready to laugh.
THE FRONT ROW = VIP
Almost no one ever wants to sit in the front row. And yet, there's nothing worse for a comedy show than an empty front row. So sell it to your colleagues as the special VIP section. Or hide a stack of chairs that you don't put out until all the front row seats are filled.
EATING DURING THE SHOW
Chewing and laughing mix about as well as spreadsheets and sangrias. While our comedians are hilarious, nothing competes with lamb chops. Do the comedy show before, between or after courses.
DRINKS DURING THE SHOW
You want the drinks flowing freely, but without it becoming a distraction. Five minutes before the show starts, we make an announcement to use the restrooms and fill up your drinks. Permission to double fist granted!
During the show, if someone needs another drink, they'll quietly get up and grab one, but please don't get up and run around refilling everyone's drinks every five seconds. Same for if there's waiters: if someone flags them down, great. Otherwise ask the waitstaff to be flies on the wall.
This is not a Broadway show. Once the audience is focused and laughing and in a group-mind state, pausing for everyone to simultaneously refill their drinks or eat dessert ruins the flow of the show. We want to avoid audience members getting so into their third serving of creme brûlée they don’t come back.
WHEN TO START
The ideal time for a comedy show to start is 15-30 minutes after your event’s start time. You don’t want the guests to be two, three or heaven-forbid four hours into your bash. At a certain point, guests become restless with too much alcohol in their system, making it harder for a focused show. And heckling more likely.
Yes Mary from Accounts Payable is hilarious at the water cooler. But you brought professional comedians to you. Let them do their act and talk to the crowd when they choose. They don’t need “help” with unexpected and unwanted interruptions.
Pre-show background music is great, but save the bass-dropping DJ for the post-show dance party.
Please provide a room (or area) for the comedians as they like to focus before their performance and get in the zone. Comedians love chatting with the audience after the show, when the audience is starstruck by the comedians’ talent.
DRINK/FOOD FOR COMICS
In an episode of The Apprentice, boxes of hot, delicious-smelling pizza sat in the office, ready to be eaten and the boss didn’t give his workers a bite. Talk about anti-motivational tactics. You want comedians to feel welcome at your event so that they perform great, and offering food is the way to do that. You can either leave something in the green room, or offer for them a plate before/after the show. It needn’t be shrimp or steak, but a little brie goes a long way.
Ideally everyone sits together "theater style" with no tables. But we realize in conference rooms, that might not be possible. It’s great to have the room ready for comedy with the chairs out and room for the stage. But stay open to us changing the layout of the stage and chairs, as we’ve done hundreds of corporate comedy shows and know what works best.