Corporate gigs can be some of the must lucrative shows you’ll get. They’re most common in the month of December during Christmas party season. There’s a price though, as they often require a lot of experience just to get through. I once performed a half-hour set at noon in a break room with no microphone for $50. I asked for $200, they countered with less. I should’ve said no. I could’ve used these tips, but it was 2002 and I was dumb.
Here are some things to remember:
- Charge a lot–Usually it’s “nobody’s money” and they’re using a budget they were given. If a low-ball figure like $250 for a show is too much for them, that foreshadows what type of crap gig you’re doing. Think of it as a survivor fee. A lot of comics name a number they don’t think they’ll accept because they hate corporate gigs so much. If they do, at least it’s a nice payday.
- Find an opener–Pay someone a percentage of your earnings to break the ice for you. It might be the first comedy show for some of your audience, so they need to see how it works. $50 for 5-10 minutes should cover it.
- Be clean–Even if they tell you it’s okay to say “anything within reason,” start super clean and test them out. It’s not that they’re overly moral, it’s that they’re afraid to laugh around their coworkers about certain topics. Ask what’s taboo. You never know when a specific tragedy just hit a company, so find out what’s off limits. Discuss how clean you need to be on the phone while booking.
- Make sure you have a stage (space), lighting, and sound system. Also, agree on how long the show will be ahead of time. Sometimes they think these things are going to go for hours. Discuss all this over the phone beforehand.
- Get a contract or some sort of paperwork signed ahead of time. If they wrong you, at least you can warn others. They usually draw up the invoice.
- Do your research on the company. It can be hard to write fresh new jokes for something you don’t know much about, so if that’s the case, make your ignorance to their expertise funny. Get to these jokes early (but not first) in your set. Start into them after you’ve established some laughs with your usual opening jokes.
For more tips on how to make money and progress your career in stand-up comedy, read my book Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage.