Georgia Sharp is an Assistant Agent at JLA and writes exclusively for Comedy Blogedy about the corporate comedy world.
As an employee of speaker bureau JLA, my 9-5 is spent booking guest speakers for corporate events. Although the 25 of us in the office keep abreast of all industries in order to fit the briefs we’re given (think guest speakers from the fields of science, politics, business and beyond), a significant amount of our time is also spent researching, watching, advising on and booking comedy. Our annual Real Variety Show is renowned for showcasing the best new corporate-friendly comedy and variety talent around, so we’re all feverishly and constantly searching for the Next Big Thing.
In a nutshell, our corporate client base expects us to locate and book the best and most appropriate talent possible for their event. Comedy-wise, this usually means finding humorous guest speakers, cabaret acts or hosts, largely for awards ceremonies, parties or dinners. Occasionally, we’re called upon to find suitably amusing guest speakers to round off a heavy day of conferences.
The countdown to Christmas is our busiest time – we’re now deep into the end-of-year awards and party season – and so at the moment I’m checking the availabilities of heaps of guest speakers and acts every day. Whilst August is a quiet month in London for comedy owing to the Edinburgh Festivals and everyone taking their summer holidays, come 1st September, the phones go mad as clients begin to think about adding value to their events via a little festive cheer. Sometimes our clients have specific guest speakers or acts very firmly in mind, but more often than not, our job is to compile options which we feel fit the bill.
We’ll book guest speakers and acts for events with a budget of a few hundred pounds, through to servicing pockets with tens of thousands to spare for top performers (and hundreds of thousands is not unheard of). As such, you’ll see that our ever-expanding roster features the biggest names in comedy, but also tonnes of up-and-coming acts – ‘old-school’ ones, too – alongside the established artists.
We book guest speakers and acts for events big and small, functional and glitzy, serious and light-hearted, low key and high profile, and everything in between and beyond. There are fees to negotiate, scripts to work on, briefing calls to diarise, and complex travel and technical logistics to plot. We might have many months for this meticulous planning, or merely hours to fill a last-minute cabaret spot or replace a pull-out.
So, what are we looking for in corporate comedians or guest speakers? Well, as indicated above, it’s certainly not a case of one-corporate-comedian-fits-all. Different events require different talent, and it’s more of a common sense approach. It boils down to finding acts that really, genuinely make us howl with laughter (and we’ve seen so many comedians that it’s rare and exciting when this happens). We really like originality, so if you’re different, distinctive, and decent, we’re interested. You’ll also need an extra-thick skin to cope with and charm the capricious corporate audience. Sometimes delightful, sometimes frustrating: to survive the difficult times you’ll need serious skill to soften stony-faces and reel in those more interested in absorbing the aperitifs than the prescribed entertainment.
It’s true that swearing profusely is generally a no-no (although whilst dropping the ‘C-bomb’ is more or less out of the question, there’s room for well-judged profanity within the right context). I’d also tread carefully with controversial subjects – listen to the brief, understand the limits, and act accordingly. Flagrantly offending the CEO of a major business with a particularly crude, crass or juvenile gag probably won’t help you land a repeat booking. It can be helpful to incorporate a cleverly tailored gag or two, but we’ll rarely, if ever, ask a comedian to explicitly alter their approach or content for an event. Acts are booked because they’re already a perfect fit, and it’ll likely fall flat if they try too hard to accommodate a client in this way.
Ultimately, and without wishing to deploy cliché, it’s simply that indefinable star quality – you ‘just know’ when you see something special and ‘corporate’. So, if you think you’re side-splittingly hilarious, unique, clean and respectful of your audience, we want to hear from you! Be pro-active, and don’t wait for us to discover you – send us clips, invite us to gigs, and show us what you’re made of.
After six sell out Edinburgh Festival runs to huge critical acclaim, the UK’s premiere improv comedy troupe, The Noise Next Door (Tom Houghton, Charlie Granville, Matt Grant, Tom Livingstone and Sam Pacelli) will be touring the UK. They have been performing since 2006 and have appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sketchorama’, performed alongside Harry Hill, Al Murray and Jason Manford, and were the first international group to perform at FRACAS, the improv festival in California. Having received standing ovations in front of corporate diners, the British forces, secondary school students and even fans at ‘Download’ the heavy metal music festival, they are definitely one of the most versatile acts in the business.
Hugely talented, very quick, incredibly creative and, not least, very funny, The Noise Next Door are one of the most exciting emerging acts in comedy. Buy tickets if they’re in a town near you!
Tour dates are as follows:
Thursday 8th BRISTOL, The Lantern
Wednesday 21st COLDFIELD, Comedy Junction
Friday 23rd CAMBRIDGE, Junction
Sunday 1st WORTHING, Drama Hall
Thursday 5th BROMSGROVE, Artrix
Saturday 28th EASTBOURNE, St Lukes
Wednesday 24th NOTTINGHAM Comedy Festival
Wednesday 1st MAIDSTONE – Hazlitt Theatre
Friday 3rd ENFIELD -Dugdale Centre
Saturday 4th STAFFORD – Gatehouse
Thursday 9th BRIGHTON- Komedia,
Friday 10th EPSOM Playhouse
Sunday 12th HARROGATE Harrogate Theatre
Thursday 16th WARWICK – Warwick Arts,
Saturday18th CARNAFON – Galerl
Thursday 23rd HARLOW Playhouse
Friday 24th DARTMOUTH The Flavel
Friday 31st Oct MILLOM Beggars Theatre
Thursday 6th ALDERSHOT West End Centre
Friday 7th CARDIFF Millennium Centre
Friday 14th BATH Komedia
Saturday 15th WOLVERHAMPTON Civic Hall
Tuesday 18th DERBY Darwin
Thursday 20th CHELTENHAM Pillar Room
Friday 21st SOUTHEND Palace Theatre
Saturday 22nd COLCHESTER Arts centre
Sunday 23rd CANTERBURY Gulbenkian
Thursday 27th BRISTOL Hen and Chicken
Friday 28th NEW MILTON Forest Arts
Saturday 29th FARNHAM The Maltings
Wednesday 3rd FAREHAM Ashcroft Arts centre,
Monday 8th MANCHESTER Comedy Store
Friday 19th EXMOUTH Pavillion, Exmouth
Saturday 20th TIVERTON – TCAT
Sunday 21st IVYBRIDGE Stowford Hal
‘It’s very rare to see improv comedy so consistently hit the mark THE LIST
‘Pure Genius’ FRINGE REVIEW
‘The sheer volume of laughter this show produced was astonishing’ EDINBURGH EVENING STANDARD
‘A multi-talented behemoth of improve comedy…. Brilliant’ FRINGE GURU
‘Masterpiece’ THREE WEEKS
‘Astonishing’ EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS
SEE THE NOISE NEXT DOOR IN ACTION:
Accessibility is one of the toughest aspects of stand-up comedy. The circuit caters for all tastes, opinions and styles. But as mental or mainstream as an act intends for their set – do the audience get it? Can they follow a comedian’s logic to the point where they form some kind of connection with what they’re saying or observing to produce laughter or even a smile?
Andrew Ryan is an Irish comedian, who started gigging in 2008 and is now one of the most exciting emerging talents in comedy and in demand as both an act and an MC at the biggest comedy clubs around the UK and Ireland.
Andrew’s quintessentially Irish storytelling abilities and cheeky, friendly demeanour make him a natural observational stand up. He has supported both Justin Moorhouse and Terry Alderton on their UK tours and performed his debut hour show ‘Ryanopoly’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012, receiving rave reviews (‘Illuminating debut ★★★★’ – The Metro). Andrew performed his latest show ‘Life of Ryan’ at the Edinburgh Festival in August 2014.
Andrew has performed stand-up on BBC3’s Russell Howard’s Good News and BBC3’s Edinburgh Comedy Fest Live and has appeared as a guest on Sky Sunrise and as a regular panelist on BBC Radio.
Sara Shulman is the Founder and Editor of Comedy Blogedy, TEDxUCL Speaker on ‘The Power of Funny’, specialist comedy blogger for Ticketmaster and blogger for The Huffington Post. Sara was the former Head of Comedy at UCLU Rare FM and produces the Comedy Blogedy podcast ‘Humour Me’. Sara is currently a student at the National Film & Television School and has produced online comedy sketches and short films.
Photo Credit: Andy Hollingworth
Award-winning comedian David Elms has written a short silent comedy film called ‘SWAG’. In a recent interview with The Pleasance Times, David described the plot of the film:
It’s essentially about a guy who’s bored with his life until he buys a hat. And when I say “essentially”, I mean “entirely”.
The film is directed by Matt Holt and I have produced the film. We’ve been developing ‘SWAG’ since January this year and have put a huge amount of time, effort and love into telling this story, making it as creative, cinematic and humorous as possible…
SWAG is a new short silent comedy film written by award-winning comedian David Elms, directed by Matt Holt, produced by Sara Shulman and starring some of the best new and emerging talent in comedy, including ELLIE WHITE, MARK DAVISON, JACK BARRY, PATRICK TURPIN, TASH DEMETRIOU, MASSIVE DAD, LOLLY ADEFOPE, ORRY GIBBENS, THE PIN, ADAM LAWRENCE, LIZZIE DAYKIN, and more!
Come along to the screening which will feature stand-up from headliner JOSIE LONG, and sets by SWAG co-stars:
The screening is also a fundraiser where all money from ticket sales will go towards supporting the film.
Doors 7:30pm Show 8pm
More information about the film: http://davidelms.net/shortfilm/shortfilm.html
Graphic Design by Tom Lobo Brennan
Lee Martin for Gag Reflex presents:
THE AXIS OF AWESOME: VIVA LA VIDA LOCA LAS VEGAS
Time Out Sydney Comedy Festival Best Show 2010/2011
Time Out Sydney Comedy Festival Best Australian Talent 2010
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Moosehead Award 2008
“One of the best of the fest…they achieved cult status, with audiences on their feet whenever they took to the stage” Adam Hills
The Axis of Awesome are set to do their biggest tour to date around the U.K. this September.
The Axis of Awesome have a truly global fan-base – they have previously enjoyed sell-out seasons in Edinburgh as well as at the Adelaide Fringe and Cabaret Festivals, tours of Germany and the UK, the Sydney and Melbourne International Comedy Festivals, the Sydney Opera House, three sold-out tours of Sweden, Perth Fringe World, Singapore and two tours of the US. They have also played at the prestigious invite-only Montreal Just for Laughs Festival.
Not content with obliterating box offices around the world, they’ve also smashed online records – their ‘Four Chords Song’ is one of the highest rated YouTube comedy videos of all time, and their videos have amassed over 90 million hits. Their latest smash hit ‘Rage of Thrones’ has over 1 million hits, and it’s pretty darned awesome.
They have notched up multiple TV appearances in Australia as well as globally, and their latest album ‘Christmawesome’ has flown off the shelves. You might have seen them on Comic Relief, Jason Manford’s Comedy Rocks or heard them many times on The Scott Mills Show on BBC Radio 1.
They recently received funding from YouTube and Screen Australia as part of the Skip Ahead program to make a web series in Los Angeles, so by the time you read this they’ve probably already done that, or are in breach of contract.
The Axis of Awesome are comprised of lead singer Jordan Raskopoulos, who has appeared on numerous Australian TV shows, including Underground: The Julian Assange Story, and recently won an International Emmy as part of the team behind#7DaysLater. Benny Davis is a classically trained musician and has millions of hits on his YouTube channel “The Human Jukebox”, as well as a recent tour to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Guitarist Lee Naimo is a champion improviser and has featured on Slideshow and Written It Down where he made stuff up. He isn’t as talented as Benny, as boisterous as Jordan or as smart as most dogs, but he sure is part of the band.
Al Lubel is a “terrifically funny comedian” according to David Letterman, and Jerry Seinfeld has stated that Al has one of the best jokes he has ever heard.
Al started off as a lawyer (to please his mum) and became a comedian to please himself (which did not please his mum). After graduating from law school in Florida, Al moved to Los Angeles, passed the California Bar Exam but chose to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian rather than a lawyer.
After quitting law, within a year he won the $100,000 Grand Prize for comedy on Star Search. Doing the The Tonight Show was a childhood fantasy, so when Al heard that Johnny Carson was retiring; he auditioned and became one of the last comics to appear with Johnny. Al has performed on the Late Show with David Letterman five times.
Tickets are available to see Al Lubel at Leicester Square Theatre on Saturday 20th September
Have a listen to Al Lubel’s audio interview with Sara Shulman on Comedy Blogedy
The transition between live comedy and television can be tough; editing out material that might not work in the mainstream but still intending on keeping the integrity you have as a performer that made you an investment worth broadcasting is a balance needing careful attention. This can be particularly difficult for sketch comedy.
Read the full article on Ticketmaster
CB: Where was your first gig and what was it like?
TN: My first gig was at an open mic at a coffee house in Los Angeles that is no longer around. And it surprisingly went well. My next gig though did not go as well – I felt so confident from the first time, that I actually signed up for a comedy competition the following night. I bombed so bad that I ended up running off stage before my time was up.
CB: How often did you start gigging after your first gig and what was the comedy environment like in terms of booking gigs and progressing on mixed bills?
TN: It took me years to build up an act, and then I toured as much as I could and drove around the country making little or no money being put on shows as an MC and opening act. It took about 3 years before starting to headline comedy clubs.
CB: How do you feel that your material has changed since when you first started gigging?
TN: When I first started doing stand-up, I did a ton of one liners and general basic jokes, then I started doing longer jokes and stories and then even allowing myself to be more honest or physical or even pushing a stool around the stage for laughs. It had very little to do with material. Anything I do though, there’s always very clearly my voice behind it.
CB: Do you have a specific process that you go about when you write your material? Does the way you write your stand-up material differ at all to the way you write sitcoms?
TN: I get an idea, or I think of a story that I want to work out and then I just get up on stage as much as possible and keep telling that story over and over and over again. And I record these sets. And then listen to them. And then keep working out this material, tweaking, finding different nuances and tags. So in terms of what I actually write on paper, it is usually never more than bullet points.
CB: Your comedy album Live has sold over 100,000 copies worldwide and was ranked the number one comedy album by Entertainment Weekly. Did you find that you had a different approach in preparing material for this album?
TN: That set was completely different than any other. I had no intention of that performance turning into an album. I had just been experiencing absolute hell in my personal life, and did not know if I was even going to live, and I love being a stand-up, so I wanted to perform and discuss all I had been going through – it was just a very raw set.
CB: Your project Showtime found you performing in the homes of your fans around the U.S. How did you find that experience?
TN: I had done this before, just never had it taped for a special. It was always really fun in the past, and that got me to thinking that this could be great on television and fortunately Showtime agreed. So not surprisingly, shooting this project was again a lot of fun.
CB: Do you have a favourite type of audience to perform to?
TN: The sleeping elderly.
CB: You’ve also toured and performed comedy at some of the most prestigious festivals around the world. How do you find that these gigs compare to performing at a comedy club?
TN: They are way different. Some of these festivals have a huge music component, so sometimes I am performing and there is actually a literal barrier between myself and the audience, which can sometimes make it a little bit more challenging. But my experience on a whole at these festivals are always quite amazing and fun.
CB: Having performed in so many different types of venues all around the world, do you have a favourite type of venue to perform in?
TN: There is something about small intimate venues that I really love. It is also amazing to perform in thousand seat theatres. To not be able to see anybody, but to hit a first punch line, and then from the darkness feel a huge roar of laughter in response, is pretty exhilarating.
CB: Do you have any tips or advice for comedians and new acts starting out in comedy?
TN: Be yourself and get up on stage constantly.
You can win tickets to see the show – all you have to do is ‘Like’ the Comedy Blogedy Facebook page.
Grammy nominated comedian Tig Notaro is performing at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Monday 1st September 2014 as part of her ‘Boyish Girl Interrupted’ debut UK tour. If you would like to win tickets to see the show, all you have to do is ‘Like’ the Comedy Blogedy Facebook Page and the winner of 2 tickets will be chosen randomly. (Doors: 18:30 Show Start: 19:30)
“One of the best stand-up sets I ever saw” LOUIS CK
“One of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen” SUNDAY TIMES CULTURE
After the hugely successful and critically acclaimed sell-out Edinburgh Festival run last year with her debut UK show ‘Boyish Girl Interrupted’, the awe inspiring Grammy nominated comedian Tig Notaro has announced her first mini UK tour. The tour takes in London, Manchester, Birmingham & Glasgow this September and are her first UK ever dates outside of Edinburgh.
On August 3rd in 2012 at Largo Theater in Los Angeles, Tig Notaro made a seemingly nonchalant detour in her stand-up routine to announce that she had breast cancer, just days after being diagnosed. Her blend of humour and matter of fact approach left comedy fans riveted, many in both tears and laughter. Wrote Louis CK to his twitter followers: “In my 27 years doing this I have seen a handful of truly masterful performances. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo.” This set was recorded, and became Tig’s sophomore album Live (as in, want to live, not perform live). Live encompasses the previous four months of Tig’s life leading up to that night at Largo. The juxtaposition of career highs like never experienced before with personal lows that many human beings may never experience in a lifetime.
Live has now gone on to sell over 100,000 units, which is unheard of for comedy albums these days. During 2012 and this album release, Tig has been reviewed and profiled by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, GQ Magazine, Rolling Stone and Time Magazine amongst many others. The Grammy nominated album was also ranked #1 comedy album of 2012 by Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine and The Onion AV Club and Tig herself was recently ranked #21 on Rolling Stone’s “50 Funniest People in the World Now” list.
Tig’s project with Showtime, entitled, Knock Knock, It’s Tig Notaro, follows Tig as she performs in the actual homes, barns and cul-de-sacs of selected fans across the country. Tig also recently appeared in the Lake Bell feature, In a World, and is next slated to appear in the feature Walk of Shame opposite Elizabeth Banks, and Shreveport opposite Ryan Phillippe, both due out this year. Tig continues to host her weekly podcast, Professor Blastoff, which has consistently been in the top 10 iTunes comedy podcast charts. In addition, Tig has a book deal with Ecco, an imprint of Harper Collins.
She remains a favorite on both PRI’s, This American Life, and on Conan. In previous years Tig has guest starred on shows such as ABC’s Suburgatory, NBC’s The Office and Community, HBO’s The Life and Times of Tim, wrote for The 2011 Emmy’s and 2010 MTV Movie Awards, and toured nationally and internationally at the most reputable comedy and music festivals.
UK CRITICS ON ‘TIG NOTARO: BOYISH GIRL INTERRUPTED’
“I would gladly see this show again tomorrow” THE TIMES ****
“Creates a bond with the audience that Notaro exploits with delight….” METRO ****
“Truly masterful performance’s” THE INDEPENDENT ****
“… Delivered one of the most spellbinding comedy performance’s in recent memory.” EDINBURGH EVE NEWS *****
“The funny happens in the space between the words, surely the mark of rock solid comedy persona” CHORTLE ****
“…A gloriously down to earth enigma” TELEGRAPH ****
TIG TV HIGHLIGHTS:
This American Life featuring her Taylor Dayne comedy story. http://bit.ly/XxkH5K
Her first appearance on Conan http://bit.ly/Yw3Kcb
Opening up on Last Call about LIVE. http://bit.ly/XBJenh
CNN on how she coped with cancer through comedy. http://bit.ly/Yw3AS8
You can buy tickets to see Tig Notaro from: www.kililive.com/artists/tig-notaro
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