Living Room Laughs has put on hundreds of private comedy parties in restaurants. Here's our best practices for setting up your restaurant rager to be a huge success.
NO SURPRISE SHOWS
The audience should know there will be a comedy show at your party before they even show up. There’s nothing worse than when a group of friends is socializing, drinking, and having a good time and then, without any warning, the party host says, “Stop talking! Kill the music! Take Your Seats! Focus! It’s time for an unexpected comedy show.” Comedians call this an ambush show, and nobody likes to be ambushed. You want the audience seated, engaged, and ready to have a good time.
Keeping all of the above in mind, it’s totally fine if the comedy show is a surprise for ONLY the birthday person or the guest of honor. You can surprise one person, just not everyone.
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 8:30pm.” This way if guests come in more than fashionably late and interrupt the show, it'll be their fault, not yours! Also if it’s a sit-down dinner, mention that time too. For example, “Drinks and passed apps at 6pm. Sit down dinner at 7pm. Comedy show at 8pm.” After you book a show, we will provide guidance for the timing between the guests arrival to the show start time.
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. Depending on the size of the restaurant’s private room, sometimes we need to reposition the chairs and other times, it works for everyone to stay where they are.
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 guests as the special VIP section.
EATING DURING THE SHOW
Chewing and laughing don’t mix well. While our comedians are hilarious, nothing competes with lamb chops. You want a focused audience so 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 can flag down a waiter. Otherwise ask the servers to be flies on the wall. While your heart is in the right place, too much attention to refills pulls focus from the show.
This is not a Broadway show. Once the audience is focused and laughing and in a group-mind state, pausing ruins the flow of the show.
The ideal time for a comedy show to start depends on what kind of food you’re doing: light apps, buffet or full sit-down. We generally do the comedy show between entrees and deserts which is about 75-90 minutes after your event’s start time. Once we talk on the phone, we’ll agree on more exact timing.
You brought professional comedians to you. Let them do their act and talk to the crowd when they choose. They don’t need your “help” with unexpected and unwanted interruptions.
Pre-show background music is great, save the bass-dropping DJ for the post-show dance party.
Comedians like to focus before their act and get in the zone. Please have a separate table or area at the bar for them. After the show the comedians will enjoy mingling much more since that’s 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.
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 locations of the stage and chairs, as we’ve done hundreds of private comedy shows and know what works best.
We love kids, they bring joy to our lives, yadda yadda yadda. They also change the dynamic of the show for the worse. Grownups look at the kids during punchlines and it can affect whether or not they laugh. While we do “clean” and “family-friendly” shows, whenever possible, we recommend leaving the kids at home with grandma or a babysitter. You’ll laugh much more when you don’t have to wonder, “How does my twelve year old know that term?!?”
Since COVID, outdoor shows have become a speciality of ours, but let’s be frank: indoors is still more fun. So if you want to mix laughter with fresh air, at least get a tent. This way you’re also covered in case of rain.
If you decide to do an outdoor show:
Setup the tables as close together as possible leaving room for caterers (if you have them) or guests to walk around the table. Have bug spray for the guests.
If it’s an evening show: Set up holiday lights or tiki torches to add ambience and soft lighting
If it’s a daytime show: Have sunscreen out and about