Thursday, December 18, 2008

Office Party Entertainment Guidelines

Choosing the right office party entertainment is no easy task. Will your coworkers most enjoy a comedian, juggler, ventriloquist, or magician? To help make your job easier, here are 7 Guidelines for Choosing the Perfect Office Party Entertainment...

What type of act do you want?

Options: Stand-up comedian, magician, ventriloquist, juggler
Considerations: Most corporate entertainers incorporate liberal amounts of humor into their performance. The type of act you choose may come down to a matter of personal preference.

Do you have any production limitations?

Options: Sound, staging, lighting, ceiling height…
Considerations: There are logistical considerations to take into account when choosing the type of act you want. For example, stand-up comedians tend to require the least amount of staging and PA equipment. A microphone may be all that is required for a successful performance. A juggler, on the other hand, may require wireless microphones and even may even have considerations having to do with ceiling height. If you’re unsure about your production capabilities, be sure to ask your agent when choosing your act.

What type of humor works best for your audience?

Options: Blue-collar, white-collar, physical comedy, impressions
Considerations: Comedy is subjective, and – like nearly everything in life – it’s nearly impossible please everyone. When deciding what type of humor will work best, consider the makeup of your group: their age, educational background, race, and economic status. You wouldn’t necessarily want to have blue collar comedian Larry The Cable Guy at a stuffy financial summit up North (although the results could be hilarious – however unintentional). Conversely, a comedian who focuses on office life wouldn’t be best for a group of farmers. Describe your group to your agent and they can help you pick the best act.

What rating do you desire?

Options: G, PG, PG-13…
Considerations: When in doubt, it’s best to go with a G-rated act. You really don’t want to offend anyone in your audience. If your group really wants to “let loose” and isn’t easily offended, you can request a PG-13 rated show. Just make sure that everyone is aware of this going in. You may even want to make an announcement ahead of time to that effect. Be sure to clearly discuss with the performer any language or topics you wish to avoid. You may even want to write specifics into the contract if you are concerned about possible offensive content. Again, when in doubt go with a G-rated act!

How long do you want the show to last?

Options: Typically 30 – 60 minutes…
Considerations: You don’t need a two hour show to have a memorable evening of entertainment. A show lasting between 30 and 60 minutes is often best, as guests start to become restless after that time. Take into consideration how long your guests will have been seated before the performance begins. Will they have just endured a day of meetings, dinner, and speeches? If so, less entertainment may be more!

If you’re hosting an awards show and/or giving away door prizes, it’s typically best to do this after the comedian has performed. Often times the comedian will gladly emcee the awards portion – just ask.

Do you want the audience involved in the show?

Options: No interaction, light interaction, audience members on stage…
Considerations: Some stand-up comedians may have little or no audience interaction as part of their act. Others have more interaction where they will actively talk with members of the audience from the stage to improvise material for the show. Taking it a step further, some comedians will actually get your audience members up on the stage to be part of the show. This is especially true of magicians, ventriloquists, and jugglers – most of which will solicit audience members to be part of the act.

The level of interaction you desire depends on your group. If you have a close-knit, lively group, you may request a high level of interaction. If your audience is more reserved or has experienced a day-long meeting, they may prefer just to sit back, relax, and be entertained.

Should you feel that on-stage interaction will suit your group, it’s best to speak with the entertainer before the show to identify employees that are confident and will enjoy being on stage.

Do you want to customize the show?

Options: No customization, a little, a lot…
Considerations: Some comedians can incorporate a lot of customized material about your group or company into their show. They will usually send you a pre-show questionnaire that asks for information about your company and employees.

When gathering information, please stay clear of any sensitive material (personality traits, company policies, etc.). The goal of any customized act is to present material that everyone can enjoy.

Keep in mind that customization requires work on your part. You’ll need to complete the performer’s questionnaire in a timely manner and be available for follow-up discussions. If you’re already overworked planning the meeting or conference, this may be more than you’re willing to take on. But if you have the time, the results can be very memorable!

Visit our list of comedians approved to host The Funny Employee Awards Show.
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