How to Organize a Comedy Show: A Complete 12-step Guide

how to organize successful comedy shows
Pooja Jena

Table of Contents

How to organize a comedy show is no rocket science if you know the basics. However, there are some event planning tips you must apply to make your comedy show a success.

You’ll have a sold-out event by following these event planning principles with expert tips curated for comedy shows.

So, let’s begin with the drill!

A. Size of the comedy show

Selecting the size of the audience is integral when you want to learn how to organize a comedy show.

This number will determine how many resources you need, for eg. the number of lights and chairs. It will help you collaborate with vendors.

There are many ways to decide the size of your comedy show or event. Consider these:

  • If you have a pre-decided venue, what is the capacity of that place?
  • How much crowd has the comedian attracted in previous shows?
  • What are the other events taking place on the tentative dates of your event?
  • Is your show rare enough to be sold out?

B. How to organize a budget for a comedy show

Getting your budget in order will make event planning less stressful for a comedy show.

You can find a detailed guide on how to create a budget in this article.

However, a few helpful pieces of advice we’d like to give for comedy shows and events are:

  • Know the hidden costs of having a comedian on board. For example, hotel, transportation, and makeup costs if any
  • Describe all your expenses and not just label them as, for example, electronics and furniture
  • Contact multiple vendors for the same budget item to know the best prices and market rates
  • Don’t forget taxes
  • Reserve some money for contingencies

Some contingencies may include sudden damage to equipment or electronics. You will learn about how things can go wrong later in this article.

Lastly, creating the budget is not a one-time job. Treat it like a tracker and keep on updating it as and when you make purchases.

This practice ensures that you don’t go overboard with the expenses just to make the event happen.

C. Which venue should I pick?

Theatres, studios, auditoriums, and comedy clubs make for the best event venues for a comedy show. After all, you majorly need a place that can support good sound systems and spotlights.

As discussed earlier, the venue should also be in sync with your audience size. You should also leave a few extra seats for the staff, security, and a few last-minute guests.

Avoid cases of inadequate seating but also ensure the venue isn’t too big. Too big of an event venue gives off the impression that enough people didn’t show up. A compact venue will ensure all the laughter is heard. After all, it’s not the comedian alone that makes the show great, it’s also the giggles.

Ensure a decent interior of the venue that’s important, but also notice the environment around it. For example, choosing a famous or centrally located venue will get you more attendance.

It’s also a good practice to ask if the comedian is comfortable performing at the choice of venue. This is the last step to confirming your venue. It is also very important because a comedian needs to be comfortable enough to perform his act. Usually, comedians prefer small stages.

D. Which comedian do I choose?

You can’t blindly go for the trending comedian in town. Knowing how to choose your comedian for the event is integral when learning how to organize a comedy show.

For high-profile comedians, you might need to contact a booking agent. Even in this case, you will need to know if all your requirements are being met.

To know your requirements, first start by watching a lot of comedy shows. Preferably offline as live performances are very different. Then, see which comedians you genuinely enjoy.

Also, look out for the following pointers:

  • Their political views (as it can be a sensitive matter for extremist audience members)
  • Confidence level
  • Being able to directly and comfortably talk to the crowd
  • Are they able to leave the audience wanting more?
  • Sharing of personal or imaginary stories and making it sound believable
  • Is their act natural or does it seem to be rehearsed?
  • The number of gigs performed before (the more, the merrier!)
  • Are their lingo and accent easily understood by the crowd?
  • Level of energy throughout the show
  • How good are they at dealing with silent audiences?
  • Can they handle hecklers in a funny manner?
  • How’s their temper on stage? Will they lash out at hecklers or disturbers?
  • Their social media presence

Lastly, you also need to select a comedian based on your event. For example, let’s take two events, one with young adults as the major audience and another with families. You’ll need different types of comedians for each event.

You can also host an open mic night comedy show as an audience warmup or as your main event. This event allows amateur performers to take the stage and tell jokes. These performances help emerging comedians gain confidence and try out new routines.

Another learning in how to organize a comedy show is to be able to pitch the right price. You can expect to pay a lower price if you can reach out to comedians directly. Else, you will need to negotiate with the agent. You can use the questionnaire in this section above to prepare your argument to lower the price.

You can also try to book the comedian for weekdays as they charge much less on working days. Weekends are usually very busy and they might be unavailable on these days too.

E. You need an opening act

Every comedy show event needs a host, preferably also a comedian or someone with a good sense of humor.

The host doesn’t really need to crack many jokes. But they definitely need to set some ground rules.

These ground rules are important for you to know how to organize a comedy show. Some of them are as follows:

  • No sharing of jokes or saying them out loud if the person has already attended the event. It ruins the experience for others
  • Strictly prohibit usage of phones for recording the gig as the comedian needs to be able to repeat the jokes
  • No heckling or disrespecting the comedian
  • Ask the audience not to talk amongst themselves during the show
  • Keep phones switched off or silent during the comedy show

Let the host repeat it twice if needed, but ensure that the audience is willing to comply with these rules.

F. How to plan a comedy?

The requirements of your show must be clearly communicated to the comedian. Only then will you learn how to organize a comedy show that is perfectly suited for your audience!

Start with specifying how much time the comedian must spend on stage. Typically, a comedy act lasts anywhere between 90-120 minutes.

You will also have to mention linguistic variations comedians may face where they’re performing.
Explain further about the age group they’ll be dealing with. This will help them touch on more relatable topics and refrain from boring or offensive ones.

Additionally, also keep up with current affairs so that the comedy pick on something too sensitive. For example, if religious riots are taking place, it’s best to avoid blasphemous jokes.

You can either have flat fees for the comedian’s work. Or, you can also pay them based on how many people show up because of their brand name.

G. How to organize the set for a comedy show

Good news for you is that stand-up comedy doesn’t require too much equipment. What you do require is:

  • A raised stage setup for the comedian to perform on
  • PA system comprising of microphones, mixers, amplifiers, and loudspeakers
  • Microphone stand
  • Seating arrangement for the audience
  • Any props that the comedian might need
  • Spotlights

Keep backup options for mics and speakers just in case something goes wrong.

In addition to this, it is advisable to host the event in a dark room. Try to ensure that there’s little to no noise and disturbances during the act.

You want to minimize the disturbances as much as possible. Also, ask the audience to keep the noise to a minimum.

This is to ensure that the focus is on the comedian as the show is all about him.

H. How do you host a comedy show?

A comedy show can last anywhere between 90 minutes to two hours. The flow of the event is as follows:

  • Interlude music while the entire audience arrives
  • Opening act for 10 minutes by a host
  • Comedian’s first act for 15-20 minutes
  • Compering by the host for 2-5 minutes (if there’s another comedian who is going to come)
  • Second act for 20-25 minutes
  • Main act for 30-40 minutes

I. How to treat the artist during the show

When the venue is empty, it is advisable that you give the comedian a tour. They should know from where to enter and leave the stage. Make him/her comfortable and familiar with the surroundings. This makes a world of difference in their performance.

Allow some time for rehearsal at the venue as well if possible. This will not only help the comedian but also the audio-visual team who are controlling the sound and lights.

Then, with the entire staff and comedian present, you need to run through the event schedule. Tell them the timings of all the acts and when the show officially begins. Leave copies of the schedule and duty roster to the entire team.

Lastly, make the comedian feel comfortable in the green room. This room is a place space where they can eat, relax, and prepare for the big show. Make sure the comedian is given enough time and refreshments before the show.

J. How do you get people to come to your comedy show?

It is recommended that you set your ticket price the same as the average cinema ticket price in the vicinity. You can definitely exceed this amount if the comedian is a big celebrity on his/her own.

If this pricing strategy doesn’t work for you, try these instead.

Then, you must create tickets for your event. You save a huge margin by creating your own tickets instead of depending on a listing site.

Then, make your event discoverable.

K. Always have a Plan B

The biggest Event Planning lesson that EventTube emphasizes is to have backups for everything.

Here’s your cheatsheet for things that commonly go wrong in comedy shows:

How to Organize a Comedy Show when nothing is in your favor

L. How to get the most revenue out of your comedy show?

If you’re working with a popular comedian who regularly shows up in memes, it leaves a great opportunity for you.

You can print those dialogues or memes on cups and t-shirts. Then, set up a merchandise store where people can buy these goodies after having a good laugh at the event.

How to Organize a Comedy Show

Also, if the comedy show is only a part of the brand’s event, you can sell branded merchandise too.

Now, you’re all set with all the information on how to organize a comedy show. Don’t leave any stone unturned now.

If you’d like more helpful guides on planning comedy shows and events, drop your email ID in the footer. We will reach out to you with our latest guides once every week.



One Response

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