Home' micenet eMag : micenet October 2016 Contents OPINION | BARRY MCLEOD
e have loved a laugh since
the dawn of time. We were
told by our grandparents
that laughter is good for the
soul. We even LOL when texting to
communicate we are understanding a joke. So
how does comedy fit into the MICE market?
I write this from a personal experience
point of view from a multi-faceted career as
performance coach, professional MC,
comedian, and event director. Events,
conferences and exhibitions all benefit from
humour - whether it is a gala dinner set or a
few grab lines at an exhibition.
Knowing your audience, and getting the
right person to adapt a performance is
paramount for success. If you need knowledge
and want entertaining, get someone who
understands your market segment. If you just
want funny then get a comedian.
Engagement is the key and there is no
better way to keep an audience entertained
than laughter. However, it can be a minefield
a real case of “Goldilocks and the three
bears” - where getting it just right is vital –
and we’re not talking porridge!
There is a massive difference between club
and corporate comedy. Club comedy is
where the audience is purely there to be
entertained. Their reason for being there is to
laugh. Corporate comedy incorporates
comedy into a program (unless it is a comedy
Comedian and event director Barry McLeod says comedy can enhance
a conference program and help cement key messages in the minds of
delegates. Or it can bomb like nothing else!
AT A CONFERENCE
set), where delegates are primarily there to be informed. They have sacrificed time and spent
money to be there, travelled a distance, been up early/ had a big night, and so it has got to be
relevant! It must fit in to “why am I here?”. The best piece of scripted comedy, no matter how
clever and how funny, can bomb if it is not in context or not targeted to the audience.
To make comedy work you must know your audience, know the talent, and provide the
clearest of clear briefs, especially what to avoid and what is “open season.” Being in the right
time-slot on the program is critical – not too late and definitely not too early... just right!
Critical to success is the correct room set up and proper production. A comedian needs to
connect with their audience. A stand up function with a stand up comedian is a disaster in the
making unless the audience is moved up to the stage. This is a must at cocktail functions where
people cannot applaud when they are holding drinks, canapés & handbags/briefcases!
I find the biggest laughs in the MICE market is repartee - ‘on the spot’. Comedy that is totally
relevant to the group or industry where the comedian is working the crowd. Keeping in context
and relating back to the day’s events, gossip bloopers and characters. Leaders in the industry
will put their hands up to be involved – they welcome a roast (as long as they know the content).
Delegates love being entertained by their own and if it is funny, even better. Content must never
be cruel or defamatory.
The best idea is to have an experienced professional master of ceremonies to host your
event. There are many funny MCs who claim not to be comedians. They say “but I’m not a
comedian!” They make you laugh and that’s comedy! There are MCs who claim to be
comedians who are not funny. There are some comedians who are engaged as MCs who are
How to find the best comedian MC? They should be both MC and comedian. And it’s a fine mix.
Testimonial pages will guide you, and be sure to make those phone calls for references!
An MC who is funny will lift an event, keep everyone on their toes and will give light relief
periodically to the driest conference.
There are brilliant comedians out there - some have the corporate comedy nailed and some
are just not appropriate for the conference. If you are using a comedian as part of your
entertainment then it is key to have them in the right slot, and it is imperative to have the correct
room set up. Standup needs to be intimate, the delegates must be relaxed and feel safe.
When that balance is just right, it’s gold! m
Contact Barry McLeod for further details on firstname.lastname@example.org or www.barrymcleod.com.au
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