Good, clean fun Featured

11:21am EDT January 25, 2005
Having an entertainer at your next event can be a great way to make a lasting impression.

Just make sure the impression you leave will be a good one. More than one company has been burned by an entertainer who used foul language, made sexual references or insulted an attendee.

"I feel bad for the companies, but it's good for us," says Adam Christing, president of Clean Comedians, a national agency that specializes in providing clean entertainment for corporations. "Sometimes you can really hurt your relationships with employees or customers with the wrong entertainer. Laughter doesn't have to be that way. Fun isn't a four-letter word."

To avoid being embarrassed in front of your customers, suppliers or employees at your next event, Christing suggests starting with a thorough screening of your entertainer.

"Ask for reference letters," says Christing. "Look at whether they do client satisfaction surveys. Watch a video clip or see if they have a full-length tape so you can see what you are going to get.

"You have to be really, really careful. Don't take their word for it that they are clean. If they say, 'I'm clean,' that might just mean they don't use the f-word but do sex and racial jokes."

Also be wary of entertainers who might ordinarily do a raunchy stage act but who vow to clean it up for your group.

"The danger with that is they will forget," says Christing. "Once someone gets on a roll, it's like a natural drug, so they decide to try a bit they said they wouldn't. The other thing is, if things aren't going well, they'll think, 'I'll pull out the blue material; it kills them in the clubs.'"

Once you choose an entertainer, try to speak to him or her before the event, which, with the amount of travel and booking many of them do, can be difficult. Talk about who the audience is, the reason for the event and the specific guidelines for the performance, especially how long it should last.

"A comedian might agree to do 30 minutes, get on a roll and do 45 minutes, and think they hit a home run," says Christing. "The planner is furious because it has affected the scheduling for the rest of the event."

Spend time finding the right entertainer for your company's needs, and people will remember your event.

"Nobody will remember the chicken you served," says Christing. "They will remember if you had them laughing and it relieved stress and they felt good about your company. An entertainer can often customize material around a particular program, product launch or event. The entertainment will mean a lot more to the people there than the food.

"You always need to be looking out for the reputation of the brand. If you get in comedians who are insult-oriented, it can really hurt you. The audience will be with the company long after the entertainer is gone. Think about your image and who's going to the event. You don't want controversy, you want fun. You want to allow room for there to be some good, clean fun, and some entertainers like to tease people. But they'll find out who's a good sport about their golf game and poke fun at that."

How to reach: Clean Comedians, www.cleancomedians.com