All you really need is a bar stool and a glass of water.
Well it can be relatively simple as long as you prepare these important production details.
Start with the comedian’s Technical Rider. This is a document attached to the performance contract that contains the stage, sound, lighting and green room requirements. These are not mere suggestions or requests. These items are part of the performance contract and are required to be fulfilled by the purchaser.
In some cases, you do have the ability to request an adjustment to a requirement. For example, the venue may not have the required stage size or a ceiling height that would not permit an effective follow spotlight, however any item that you would like adjusted should be discussed with the artist’s representative at the point of booking or at a tech advance conversation one month before the performance date. Most requests are generally accommodated when made well in advance and based upon the venue’s room limitations.
Stage – The dimensions will vary based on your venue. A theater, hotel ballroom, convention center, museum event space will all have different height, width and depth areas for a professional stage. For a comedian, it is all about the audience’s sight lines. Are the guests at tables with tall centerpieces? Are the guests at dining tables separated by a dance floor (set to be used later) and far from the stage? These are all factors that a professional level comedian are going to want addressed. For a recent show, setting in a few cocktail tables and chairs on the dance floor (which are removed after the show) brought the guests closer to the stage and made the atmosphere seem more like a comedy club setting.
This may be on your tech rider:
For a professional look, we recommend the total rear of the stage length should be pipe and draped.
Artist needs to be the total center of attention, the focal point of the room.
Audience needs to have totally unobstructed view of Artist.
Backless bar stool with no pad to be placed on stage with one bottle of room temperature bottled water.
The stage look during the show is important as well. Comedians do not like performing in front of vacant band gear preset for a musical performance on the same stage after the comedy show. Better to have the comedian perform in front of a simple black pipe and drape.
What is happening on the stage just prior to the comedian’s show and immediately following is important too. If there is a keynote speaker before the show, maybe a lectern needs to be removed before the comedian takes the stage. If a band is performing following the show, play recorded music at the end of the comedy show while the band takes their place and readies to perform. Dead air, waiting for the band to start can feel very unsettling and look extremely uncoordinated.
Sound System – A professional level sound system vendor needs to know the sound requirements for the show in order to prepare, setup, run, breakdown and load out the necessary sound gear. Planning for load in, set up, power needs at venue, sound check time, audience arrival time and show time are all items that need to be relayed to the sound technician.
Below are the sound requirements from a celebrity comedian’s tech rider:
In view of the primary importance of the sound quality to the ARTIST’S performance hereunder, PURCHASER agrees to furnish at PURCHASER’S sole cost and expense, a complete high fidelity state of the art sound reinforcement system for the benefit of the audience.
PURCHASER agrees to furnish, at PURCHASER’S sole cost and expense, a
qualified sound engineer to oversee the sound system during set up and to operate it during the show.
The sound system shall be set up in a manner to provide even coverage throughout
entire seating venue. The system must be capable of producing a sound level of 95db SPL at the house mix position with a frequency response of =/-3db from Hz to 15Hz.
The sound system must use 1/3 octave EQ’s located at the house mix position and accessible to the sound engineer to make necessary adjustments.
Adequate number monitors across the front of stage for the ARTIST.
The sound system shall contain two high quality wireless microphones to be used by the ARTIST. One microphone shall be a backup. Microphones MUST be wireless handheld. Preferred microphones:
Shure Beta 58, Shure Sm 58, Senn MD 431
Sound Check – This is the time blocked in the afternoon for an evening performance whereby the comedian may choose to review the stage, lighting, sound and all the production details.
The comedian will get up on stage and test the sound system with the sound engineer.
Pace the stage and work with the lighting engineer as to the intensity and movement of the lighting.
Mark spots with the IMAG operators for their cameras to capture and project the show on to the screens.
Confirm path to stage from green room location, performance duration and all timeline elements.
Be prepared that on occasion the comedian may decide not to attend a sound check. This should not release the production team from running a complete check on all of these production elements without the comedian. Time should be set aside to test all of these items and set sound, lighting and IMAG parameters with all technicians and confirm all is in working order before audience arrives to the room.
Lighting System – Does the comedian pace the width of the stage? Will the comedian be well lit with no shadows? How does the lighting impact the projected screen image? How is the stage lit just prior to the show? All simple questions, however, if all are not considered, a comedian may walk to an unlit area of the stage and the show will be temporarily lost.
PURCHASER agrees to furnish ARTIST with a lighting system and operator with state of the art equipment at no cost to ARTIST.
PURCHASER agrees to supply one (1) follow spot with an operator for the performance.
IMAG System – The Image Magnification Screens will enhance any large venue comedy performance. Keep in mind than many Artists are very visual in nature: facial expressions, hand motions, etc. are a major part of getting the joke. Most comedians do not require it, however if the room is used as a corporate meeting space earlier in the day and the screens are already in place, then pay the a/v technician to stay and project the performance on the screens around the room.
It will be the best money you spend to ensure a great show.
Green Room – Confirm the comedian’s arrival time to the green room prior to show. Make sure the green room can lock and the comedian can have the key just in case the artist needs to store a bag in the room securely. Basic catering is usually a part of the green room requirements. Proximity to the stage is important and be arranged well in advance.
Here is a typical Green Room list from a comedian’s tech rider:
PURCHASER will supply a comfortable, private dressing room near the stage. Room must have a full
length mirror and capable of being locked. It is not to be shared with any other individuals.
PURCHASER shall provide the following items at PURCHASERS sole cost and expense one hour prior to the show:
2 Medium Bottles of Water or 6 Small Bottles (ie: Fiji, Evian, Dasani etc.)
Green Tea (bags for hot and also bottled cold)
One Fresh Fruit Plate
Crudite and Dip
One Bowl of Mixed Nuts
Plates, Glasses, Cups, Silverware, One Bowl, Napkins and Appropriate Condiments
Toothbrush (soft bristle), Toothpaste (Colgate or Crest), Dental Floss
Introduction – “Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Welcome…” The introduction will be provided by the comedian for you in advance so that you may have it printed and given to the person making the announcement. Will you have the CEO make the announcement? Or maybe a Voice of God announcement? Is this a complete surprise to the attendees or is the audience expecting the comedian because you have been promoting the show to key customers or attendees for months?
The cue for the introduction should only be made once you have confirmed the comedian is in the wings waiting to take the stage.
Getting On The Stage – Does a band have to leave the stage before the comedy show can begin? Does a lectern or awards table need to be removed from the stage first. Does the bar stool and water need to be placed on stage and who is going to do it? This all takes a little time. The house lights should be dimmed just prior to the show and during the performance with the stage area brightly lit.
If guests are at their tables finished their meal and the waitstaff has cleared the plates, then the audience may be ready for the show, however a thousand guests talking amongst themselves is not an ideal way to take the stage for any comedian.
You may consider an overture to quite the guests before the show. Lower the house lights way down signalling that the show is about to begin, play an exciting song for thirty seconds, relatively loudly and the guests will turn their attention to the stage and largely stop talking, cue intro and show begins with everyone’s attention on the stage. Delivering to the comedian an attentive crowd ready to enjoy the show is also part of the producers job.
Will the comedian be walking out through the audience with a mic in hand? or entering from back stage with the mic on the stage in a stand waiting for him? Simple questions you need confirmed before the show begins.
Meet & Greet – The highly anticipated meet & greet with a celebrity comedian can be a very fun experience for your group of VIPs. Approval of meet & greet should be part of your initial performance contract. If it takes place before or after the show? Where it takes place? Duration of meet & greet are all factors to be discussed and agreed upon.
Performance Notes – This is the last detailed reminder to the comedian, usually in the green room one hour before show time, about the items needed to be remembered for a successful show.
Remind the artist, especially for a corporate performance, that it is a “clean show”, please no offensive material regarding sex, race, gender or religion. If you feel it is important, no material about your industry or remarks about your high profile CEO. No politics, or if acceptable, we have had certain comics asked to be “even handed” regarding politics.
It’s a good idea to let the comedian know what the guests are like. Where are they from? Are they with their spouses? Are all guests employees? customers? donors to your nonprofit? Older, younger, majority men or women? Executive types or not?
The comedian is going to want you to confirm the following regarding his performance time. See the following which is part of many performance contracts.
ARTIST WILL NOT PERFORM WHILE:
A. Dinner is being served or while people are going through a buffet line.
(This may seem very basic, but it is as simple as this, one can’t laugh with their mouth full and 50% of the audience is turned in the direction opposite of the stage.)
B. While tables and plates are being cleared.
Show Duration Alert – You booked a 30, 45 or 60 minute show, most professional comedians dislike looking at their watch during a show – it is bad form. Remarkably, many professional comedians know their timing really well. They know which bits strung together will lead to 45 minutes or also know once they hit their last joke they are seaming miraculously at their full 60 minutes. If you want to be safe and make sure the comedian doesn’t run longer than asked, placing a digital clock on the floor of the stage that only the comedian can see works well. The old system of the sound tech showing a red light when there is 5 minutes left is risky and open to human error. I don’t recommend it.
Agreement Not To Record – We frequently need to remind our client’s that the fee they are paying is for a performance, not a recording. Clients do not have permission to use a recording of the show on their website, “internal”conference recap video or any other purpose. Requests to webcast it to other locations are also problematic and won’t be permitted.
Here is an example of recording prohibition terms from a tech rider:
REPRODUCTION OF PERFORMANCE: Unless approved, in writing, by ARTIST prior
to the performance, absolutely no photography or recording (e.g., cameras, audio recording, video cameras, cell phone cameras, cell phone videos, etc.) (collectively, an “Unauthorized Recording”) of any kind shall be permitted during the performance. In the event of an Unauthorized Recording, and at the request of the ARTIST, any patron violating this policy shall be immediately escorted from the venue and any Unauthorized Recording shall be immediately destroyed. ARTIST reserves the right to cease the performance in the event of an Unauthorized Recording, without any obligation of the ARTIST to continue the performance; provided, however, that in the event ARTIST chooses to cease the performance in accordance with and due to a violation of this policy, ARTIST shall still be entitled to any and all compensation under this Agreement. Notice of this policy must be announced to the audience prior to the performance.
Beyond the Bar Stool and A Glass Of Water
Other Asks – We find that asking a celebrity to participate in something that is not part of their show may be fun… keep it simple and you’ll most likely get it approved. Jay Leno Event
We have had celebrity comedians:
Autograph a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was later raffled off.
Have the CEO join the comedian onstage for a show ending bit.
Picking a raffle ticket and taking a photo onstage with the winner
Participate in a charity auction
Getting a special photo opportunity with the CEO is a fun way to remember the event for years to come.
As a full service celebrity talent buyer consultancy and entertainment production company, Celebrity Direct enables the corporate or nonprofit event planner the ability to acquire celebrity impact for events never before thought possible. No other tool available to event professionals has greater impact communicating a message and having that message retained better than the power of celebrity.
We’re always positioned as your advocate throughout the process and we never let you overpay. Our expertise will help negotiate, contract and produce a Celebrity Music Concert, Comedy Performance or Celebrity Speaker exclusively for your corporate event, nonprofit event or private performance.