I’m amazed at how often I hear it from my clients: “We just had a speaker and he (or she) told stories and jokes that were just TOTALLY inappropriate for our association.”
Well folks, I’m here to tell you that if you want your speaker to use humor… ask them whether it is clean humor. Ask ‘em how they define “clean comedy.” If you need to, ask for examples. Last thing you want is for your boss and HR director to call you in to their offices to show you the stack of complaint letters about the comic speaker who “just wasn’t funny.”

I was chatting with a meeting planner yesterday who told me the story that I think sums up meeting stupidity. A huge corporation booked a known comedian for a corporate event. This was a very well known comedian… a person who at one time had their own TV show, and had plenty of tape on HBO and the Comedy Channel. Anybody… and I mean ANYBODY who has seen even 23 seconds of this comedian gets the accurate impression that they don’t work clean.

It was more than an occasional curse word. It was the whole act. Sex. Genders. Ethnicity. Curse words. Making fun of nearly every group. Predictably (in my opinion), five minutes after the comedian started the show at the convention, the CEO walked on stage and personally escorted the act off the stage. The full fee was paid, the audience was shocked, and the CEO probably had a fit with whoever booked that act. (And the comedian probably wondered, “Why in the world did they book me if they didn’t want me to do my thing?”)

My question was this: What did they expect? There are a ton of great corporate comedians who work 100% clean and are both professional and hilarious. But it is up to the meeting planner — or whomever is booking the speaker — to check to see if they are clean. And if you have any doubts… keep asking questions until you know you have a speaker that you know will be more than funny you want a speaker who understands corporate, government and association audiences.