How to Organise a Virtual Comedy Event
Ever since lockdown began and microphones fell silent across comedy clubs up and down the country we’ve been working hard to bring live comedy to your home.
But over the last 3-4 months there has been considerable interest from businesses looking to organise a virtual comedy event to entertain their teams, and with Christmas on the horizon, we thought it was the right time to share everything we’ve learnt!
Our latest blog will answer the most popular questions we’re asked by businesses looking to organise a virtual comedy event. Let’s get to work…
How Does a Virtual Comedy Event Work?
If you’re looking to organise a virtual comedy event then we first recommend using a webinar or online meeting platform where your audience can gather together and not only see the comedian on screen, but also view the reactions of their fellow participants. These online event platforms are relatively easy and straightforward to set-up.
Your host and comedians can either broadcast from a set location, such as a studio, or from multiple locations. We have found using a set location not only delivers a consistent sound and image quality, but when supported by a visual background it is as close as you can get to a live comedy club stage.
However, as we demonstrated in our virtual comedy showcase, you can have comedians dial in from multiple locations too. We advise providing your line-up with the technical requirements or any background material well in advance and running a test event to check bandwidth connections.
We spoke to Austin Gash from Electralink who recently organised a virtual comedy event for their team, who recommended the following:
“I would definitely advise that the hiring companies try to ensure that some form of company branding is included to make the event as unique and exclusive as possible to the hiring company.”
What is the Role of a Host During a Virtual Comedy Event?
First and foremost, your host is there to welcome the audience to your event, get them warmed up and introduce each act before they come on stage.
Your host also plays a pivotal role in keeping the energy high in between each comedian and this is where the benefits of a virtual front row kick in (more on that later)
Of course your host is also there to keep the performance running to schedule, announcing comfort breaks and the like too. Furthermore, if there are any technical difficulties, just like in a live show, the host is able to step in and keep the audience entertained while issues are rectified behind the scenes.
How do I Choose the Best Comedians?
Knowing your audiences’ demographics is crucial to selecting the perfect line-up for your event. Whether it’s a seasoned professional that the audience grew up watching, or an up-and-coming star fresh from Fringe, knowing this will help to make sure whoever you select is a perfect fit.
We recommend booking a host to kick off the event, get the audience warmed up before your comedians take to the stage and to keep the energy high in between acts.
Our little book of contacts is full of hilarious comedians and our expertise comes in matching the right comedian to the audience, so here’s our shortlist of questions we like to ask to secure the right comedians (and of course questions you should be asking too!)
- Is there anything your comedian should avoid in their set (swearing / topics)?
- What are the audience demographics? Are they all from the same office or multiple locations? Will it be a UK only audience or have international representations?
- Are there any previous comedians that have gone down well with your audience in the past?
- Is there a particular comedian your team would love to virtually meet?
Once you have the answers to these questions then let us come back to you with a shortlist of artists to excite and entertain your audience!
How Do I Create A Memorable Experience?
Without doubt your audience are the real stars of the show. One of the most frequent questions we get asked is how to create a memorable experience for the audience in this virtual world. We feel the intimate nature of the virtual event allows to build something memorable in the form of a virtual front row!
One of the challenges we faced with organising a virtual comedy showcase is how to bring the audience interaction and engagement to life in a virtual environment. After exploring lots of options we settled on creating an exclusive front row for our virtual comedy showcase event in July. We even set up our London studio which allowed our host, Ian Stone, to interact with our virtual front row.
A virtual front row is created by allowing a select number of your audience members to appear on screen during the performance. By instructing the audience in this virtual front row to switch on their cameras and microphones you create the interaction between comedian and audience which creates the energy the rest of the audience can feed off. You can avoid the camera switching between artist and audience simply by spotlighting the artist.
We spoke to Austin to get his feedback on the virtual front row;
“After speaking to some of my colleagues it was clear that the way the Comedians engaged with our Virtual Front Row, really using the background info that we sent over, made the show unique and personal to our company and employees, bringing home the laughs.”
This feedback from Austin we feel also highlights the need for the event organiser to provide detailed background information on the company and the audience too.
What Technical Equipment Do I Need?
The answer to this question depends on the production level you aspire to deliver. At a basic level there isn’t a need to deliver any technical equipment as the host and comedians can access the event via their laptop.
For those looking to scale up their production the starting point is a fixed camera and adequate lighting. Again this depends on the amount of natural light that enters into the room. In our London studio we have a three-camera set-up, one located centrally and then one either side of the room. Since our virtual showcase event took place we've added a green screen and enhanced the lighting to take into account the lack of natural light during the winter. We also have a teleprompter and wireless microphone system too.
We recommend liaising internally or externally with your trusted partners to assess what level of production you aspire to deliver and then the best route forwards. One cost-effective solution could be to hire a studio and ask your line-up to perform from that location.
What Else Should We Consider?
One option is to deliver snacks and drinks to each audience member to enjoy during the performance. For our virtual comedy showcase we sent our front row a selection of wines to enjoy during the evening.
You can ask your audience members to dress up in black tie, fancy dress, invite their family members to join – the list is endless and depends on your company culture as to what will work best.
The traditional company Christmas party is unlikely to take place this year and we’ve seen a lot of interest from companies looking to organise a virtual comedy event to entertain their teams this festive period.
If you’re looking to organise a virtual comedy event this year then we’re more than happy to help advise on the entire event, from logistics to audience participation to the line-up itself. Call one of our friendly experts on +44 (0) 20 7607 7070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.