Here are some good “dos and don’ts” for a church comedy event! This list comes from years of experience as a Christian comedian and also includes input from other veteran Christian comedians we’ve interviewed on the topic. These are NOT a list of demands or a rider or anything like that. These are just “best practices” that’ll help increase the chance of your event being a big success.
1) The widely accepted #1 rule of comedy is….do NOT perform for an eating crowd. The fuel for a comedy show is laughter. However, when people are eating, they cannot laugh.
2) Remember, most little kids will not enjoy an hour+ stand-up comedy show. Sitting quiet & still for 45-75 minutes straight, listening to an adult talk can be difficult for kids 10 and under. If possible, consider having an activity planned in a separate area for the kids while your comedian is performing or offering daycare at the church during the event (this has been a BIG success at past marriage events).HOWEVER, kids are more than welcome to attend. This is just a heads-up. We’ve had mixed results with kids in the audience;
we’ve had some shows where the kids enjoyed the show and others where one or two younger kids making noise or running around distracted the entire audience and hurt the show for
everyone. This is a consensus across the board with other nationally touring comedians too- sometimes it goes fine, sometimes it’s very bad.
3) Don’t have your comedian performing far away from the crowd. A big space between the comedian and audience creates a disconnect. Also, if your audience is at round tables, avoid having them spread far apart throughout the venue as well. Having them as close as comfortably possible is best.
1) Have a good, handheld microphone (wireless or wired is fine) with a good PA system. Bad sound (too loud, too quiet, feedback, buzzing, echoing, etc.) will doom a comedy performance from the start. If your church has a sound/tech person, having them work the event is VERY helpful. If it’s a wireless mic, have extra batteries (or an extra mic) sitting on the edge of the stage as well.
2) Have someone welcome the audience and introduce your comedian. Doesn’t have to be a long welcome and your comedian can provide the intro. The more upbeat, fun and excited your “host” can be, the better. And at the end of the show, this is the perfect time for the pastor or church staff member to thank everyone for coming, invite them to Sunday service, talk about your ministries, etc.
3) If possible, have some upbeat music playing before your comedian takes the stage (to help build the mood) or have some fun icebreakers/audience participation games happening before bringing out your performer. Having the audience’s attention, facing forward and in a great mood right before the comedian comes out is a big plus. *we’ve created a slideshow of funny (but real) newspaper headlines that lasts about 6 minutes that we set to upbeat, Motown music that works like a charm! We can also pass along tips for great icebreakers at marriage events (ie: door prizes for longest married couple,
couple with the most kids, etc)! Let us know if you’d like additional information on this!
4) Have the audience as close to the stage or performance area as possible. Comedy clubs are built with low ceilings and they pack the audiences in tight and right up against the stage. This is not by accident.
There is a real physiological effect behind it. Make sure everyone is comfortable but as close together AND close to the stage as possible. If you have more seats than expected audience members, you’ll want to “rope off” the back & side rows, ushering everyone to sit near each other and close to the stage. THIS IS KEY FOR HAVING A GREAT SHOW.
5) If possible, light the stage only and turn the house lights off. It’s a proven fact that audiences feel more relaxed and apt to laugh when they are in the dark.
1) Create a professional looking flyer that looks good printed up and when posted on social media. Along with event details (date, time, location, etc.), have a picture of the performer along with a few, short testimonial quotes from their website that’ll let your parishioners know you’ve booked someone good and proven. POST THESE EVERYWHERE (we saw one church posted them everywhere, even on the inside
of the bathroom stalls; they were a smaller church but had 250 people show up to the event)!
2) If it’s a public event, strongly encourage your parishioners to invite their friends and family in the community. This helps build a bigger audience and could possibly be a great outreach opportunity for your church. If this is a fundraising or outreach event, let us know.
We have a cool tip that’ll get more community involvement and raise more money in a really fun way! Quick overview- it’s having a short “comedy contest” at the start of the show where 4-5 people sign-up or get recruited ahead of time to compete and do comedy (or tell their favorite joke) for 2-3 minutes. Winner gets a small door prize. These people will tell EVERYONE they know that they’re in a comedy contest. We’d love to share the
results we’ve had from this in the past!
3) Put the flyer (and maybe a short video of the performer) all over the church, on Facebook/Instagram and ask church staff (and other volunteers or friends of the church) who use social media to share the event.
4) During church announcements, have someone upbeat (maybe the person who’s going to host the event) get up and give an exciting pitch for the event.
Have them read a few testimonial quotes from past churches and some credits the comedian has (in Shawn’s case, you can say “tours with Tim Hawkins, his Dry Bar Comedy special has amassed MILLIONS of views, and he’s the founder of StandUp For Adoption; a comedy benefit series that’s raised thousands of dollars for families trying to adopt children
with special needs”).
5) Start promoting the event during announcements 3-4 Sundays leading up to the show and have it in the bulletin 4-6 Sunday’s before the big night as well. If it’s a ticketed event, having someone in the lobby selling tickets after those services is a big plus too with the flyer visible as people leave the church.
Hope this helps make your church comedy event a HUGE success!