stand up comedy checklist

You never stop learning

I keep hearing over and over that corporate stand up comedy gigs can ‘destroy your soul’ as an artist. This is perfectly understandable given the difference between a club gig and a corporate gig. I find that I never stop learning ways to improve my corporate stand up odds for success. Let’s look at the differences between the two environments.

At a Comedy Club

At a club you are most likely working in a controlled environment that is designed for comedy. The logistics are well thought out, from the sound, lighting and stage height, size and position. The crowd has also come to see you in particular or comedy in general. The crowd is also more educated in comedy and many are regulars meaning they are more likely to understand your material and accept and appreciate your persona. The venue staff should also know how to operate in this environment priming the audience for a great night through good quality, efficient, and at times subtle, table service. All of these factors make for a great night.

At a Corporate Event

Contrast this to a corporate event where the environment may be out of your control. The logistics of the sound, lighting, stage, room layout and schedule may all run counter to a great night. There may also be political rivalries in the room where business colleagues or competitors may have created tensions with each other. Suddenly you enter the stage hoping for success in what may be a totally foreign environment for you. How do you raise the odds of success?

My tip is to try to resolve as many issues as possible by making as many demands as you can immediately after you have been booked for the gig. Chances are you will have an agent to negotiate for you. If so, give the agent your wish list. It’s a document that lists everything you would like in a perfect world. Acknowledge that it may not all be possible but if you have a few that are deal breakers, let your agent or the direct client know. The earlier you get your list in the more chance you have of getting what you need. Don’t expect to get the full list if you only ask on the night.

Here’s my 10 point stand up comedy checklist for corporate gigs:

• I would like a stage that is higher than the audience by at least 30cms.

• Please provide me with a hand held radio mic tuned so that I can walk into the audience without fear of feedback.

• I would like to have the room lights dimmed just before my introduction. This will help focus the crowd.

• Please provide a natural wash of light on the stage. If you only have a coloured wash, please include 1 or 2 white spotlight(s) as the dominant stage light. (Note, a projector is not acceptable)

• I would like a straight mic stand placed in the centre/front and a high stool (or a small card table) to the side.

• I perform with a glass/bottle of water on the stool/card table.

• Please have the host introduce me using the supplied introduction. Also please read the preamble, regarding turning off mobile phones and turning chairs to the front, prior to the main introduction.

• I recommend placing my performance after the main course and before desserts. Please ensure I perform before dancing begins. 

• If I am following a long segment, for example an awards ceremony, please consider giving the audience a short refreshment/restroom break prior to my performance. 

• Please ensure there is no table service during my performance.


Although the list may seem very long, if I was producing my own show, it would be even longer! By the way, be careful though not to scare the client, especially if they are new to running events. Make it clear that this list is designed to make your set, and therefore their night, more successful. You are trying to connect with your audience and this list will help enormously. Remember to be flexible though; if you don’t get some of your wishes, decide if they are deal breakers or not. If you can negotiate on some of the stand up comedy checklist then well done! If you are very unhappy, don’t do the gig.


There are 2 main impediments to having a successful corporate stand up comedy gig.  In my next blog I’ll share these with you, give you the solutions and give you some great tips along the way.

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