It is coming to the season when I do more corporate events. I have had some really fun times doing these shows, but overall, it’s a way more restrictive place to do standup, as you have been hired to fit a rating. I tell clients my show is not G-rated, more PG-13, as I won’t say anything worse than you could hear in a Tonight Show comedy set. Ultimately I do these shows because they pay better. They pay better because most standups can’t do them. I’m not saying I’m the best corporate comic out there, but in my price range, I think I’m a good value.
Here are some of the more interesting things I can remember happening at a corporate show.
Most corporate events have a part where the CEO comes up to the podium and talks about different parts of the companies year. Corporate CEO: We were saddened by the passing of Betty Bonser. She worked for Dumper Sanitation for 33 years and it was heartbreaking when she fell into the recycling incinerator. Let’s bow our head for a moment of silence for Betty. (5 seconds) I’d now like to bring up our comedian for the night… (Ok, I made up this scenario, but I’ve followed the employee death list a few times including from horrible accidents or terminal diseases that has people wiping their eyes.)
I did a show where the President of the organization did a joke where he pulled out a huge pair of granny panties and then said some woman had left them at his place. It was actually pretty funny, except to the woman who started crying. I got to follow that nightmare.
At one event I was doing my improv bit where I let the audience throw-out questions they have been asked at a job interview and then I give inappropriate answers. I was asked the basic Why are you applying for this job. My response was that I see there’s a lot of good-looking babes and I’m a big sexual harasser. Usually that is comedy gold, except that in this situation, the old CEO had been fired recently for this particular offense and there had been some serious seminars on this subject for employees that had ensued. NOTE TO CORPORATE CLIENT. Please inform comedian of any incidents that should be steered away from.
I did a show for a blue collar trucking company in Kenosha, WI where some bleached blonde woman spent a good portion of the show heckling me. Unlike a regular show where I would take her on, I just tried to deflect it. Well, the rest of her co-workers were losing respect for me, so I went back at her about how when she goes to the Salon I’m guessing she says, Give me a Rik Flair, Whooo. This brought the biggest laugh I received all night. Following the laugh the woman’s husband who dressed for the big party like he just got back from Sturgis, responded by telling me he would kick my fucking ass if I said anything else to his old lady like that again. This only made the companies president laugh really hard. I told him I’m glad that physical harm to me was what made him laugh. I’m guessing that he hired a comedian because the class clown used to make fun of him at school and he saw this event as revenge. No response. I earned my money that night.
Here is the worst one I can remember. The President of the company said this. As you know it has been a tough year for our industry. We have tried to cut in every place we could, but I’m sorry to tell you that next month there will be a 10 percent reduction in our working staff. I’m hoping that through early retirement we won’t have to let too many people go, but this is the only way our business will be able to succeed in the future. Now enough with the bad news, let’s have a good time at our Christmas Party tonight. I’d like to bring up our entertainment for the night…
These are just a few gems from some of the corporate events I’ve done. It’s not the norm, but it’s a whole different experience than doing a typical standup show. You have to possess a lot of material and know that your laughs are generally not going to be as large. My best advice is to come off like you are having fun, even if you are not. That is what most people who work in the real world have to do—day after day—so try to stay positive. Hey, it could be worse, you could be that 10 percent that is getting canned.