Putting the Show Into Business

by Barry Neal

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By Barry Neal

As a stand-up comedian, I’ve performed at hundreds of corporate events ranging from holiday parties to new product presentations to award banquets. 


Almost every time someone at the company came up to me and explained that their company is uniquely hilarious because either the employees are crazy, management is out of touch, or there is complete ineptitude due to the red tape within the company.

 I always listen to these stories (and smile, of course), and try to incorporate some of the insight given to me.  There is never a bigger laugh than when I make fun of the companies shortcomings or poke fun at the boss.  Why is this?                                                       

It’s because as an outsider, I am able to get away with saying things that most every employee wants to say about the boss (usually pertaining to the bosses extravagant self-expenditures while the employees can’t get a working stapler).

Bringing in a professional entertainer to these company events is a great idea as most award banquets are extremely boring and self indulgent.  Most employees wouldn’t even show up unless it was mandatory. 

By allowing them to vent their pent up frustrations through laughter increases good will amongst employees, and good will towards employees will go a long way in fostering loyalty within the company. Let’s face it, most jobs are stressful.  There aren’t many better ways to relieve stress than laughter.  So why not take twenty to thirty minutes and give their employees a chance to feel good while gaining their loyalty all by allowing them to have a good laugh. 

Employees feel special when the management brings in a professional entertainer as opposed to having to listen to Phil from accounting host the banquet.   

Instead of having to trudge to a local comedy club and shell out big bucks to see this performer, their bosses put out the cash for a private company performance for the employees only. 

This makes people feel respected, and will make those employees go that extra mile for the company when called upon.

Laughter is cathartic, and release endorphins in the brain which makes people happy which can also create feelings of creativity.  As a performer, I write my best material when I’m happy and laughing. 

The reason is because I am in that place where I am thinking of funny thoughts.  You can’t be depressed or sad and try to write funny.

Nothing seems funny when you’re depressed, so you must be open to being happy for the humor to get to you.  Comedy can change your mood if you allow it to.  The best show I’ve ever had was early in my career. 

I had an older woman come up to me after the show and thank me for making her laugh.  She told me she and her husband where regulars at the club, but she hadn’t been there for two months since her husband died.  She told me it was her first laugh in two months and it felt great to get out and finally enjoy life again.

Most corporate shows are easy because the employees are so bored that anything closely resembling comedy is greatly appreciated. 

Some of the corporate meetings can last the entire day.  Why not break up the monotony  by doing something fun for 15-20 minutes?  We had recess as children for the same reason.  People can only pay attention so long until they are so bored that nothing will register.  As kids, we got to run around to relieve the boredom.  However, as adults in suits, ties, and dresses, it’s more convenient to just bring in a professional and let them help relieve the boredom.

Of course, what employee wouldn’t love to play some of those insane kid’s games we played (like dodge ball) with their boss?  I’m not sure too many bosses would think this is a good idea, so bring in a comic and nobody gets hurt.     

The bigger the name of the entertainer the company brings in is also a sign of how important their employees are to them.   Some companies have brought in Jay Leno to perform for them.  I think every employee that gets to see Jay Leno has bragging rights over their friends when it comes to company events.

Every company has absurdities in the workplace.  They are self evident to everyone that works there.                              

However, it is a professional entertainer that can put those absurdities into really funny stories.  Entertainers can be a relatively inexpensive way to relieve boredom, stress, foster creativity, and create loyalty amongst the employees. 

So don’t force your employees to sit through another lousy holiday party with a band nobody will dance to.  Hire a comedian, give them some insight into the company, and sit back and have a well deserved laugh.



Last Updated: October 30, 2007