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How to Break into Corporate Comedy

Learn a lesson from Jon Stewart, Jay Leno and Conan - do corporates as that's how most comics make their living. In Seinfeld's documentary, "The Comedian," Leno admits that he doesn't spend a dime of his "Tonight Show" money, but lives on the money he makes from doing corporates. I guess when your corporate fee is $160,000 a gig, that's not too hard to make ends meet.

I know many of you are thinking, "But, I'm not famous. I just want to find a way to quit waiting tables and do comedy full time." 

Here is the thing - meeting planners are desperate for funny speakers who aren't necessarily famous, who will work for $5K to $10 range and  can wake up for an 8am meeting with their humor and a great message.

I got into the corporate comedy market in the 90s when after a run of headlining comedy clubs, I started to see clubs close, audiences dwindle, and more and more new comics entering the field. I saw the writing on the wall as it was hard to remain a "young, up and coming comic," when I was turning 40.

At that time I got a corporate gig for the Nat'l Assoc. of Fruits and Vegetables where they just wanted me to "talk" about comedy. I created kind of a mash-up from my experiences of teaching comedy and added a few bits from my act. It was very uneven and awkward, but the audience seemed to enjoy it. Even though I had to share the stage with a dancing avocado, nobody threw anything at my head and at the end of the talk, they handed me a big check. After it was over, all I could think was, "Speaking for a living rocks! How do I do this full time?"

I started researching the speaking business and found there were a lot more speaking gigs available than comedy gigs. There were also a lot of perks. Speakers were paid more than comics, they had a full hour to perform in front of sober and appreciative audiences and best of all, as a speaker, I didn't have to be the "hot, new, up and coming young talent" forever. In fact, in the speaking profession, experience, age and wisdom were actually considered assets and not liabilities. Whoo-Hoo!

I wanted to learn more about it, so I joined the National Speakers Association -- where I met comics I never heard of who were making six figures for one gig. And here's the weird thing -- many of these successful speakers had never been on "Conan," nor were they household names. But they all had something I didn't. They had a message.

It took me years to find the "Message of Me" but once I did and combined it with my standup act, I was able to buy and build my dream house, and on top of it, not only make people laugh, but make a difference.

Let me show you how you can fit into this market. Let me help you find the "Message of You." It's right there in the stories you tell your kids, underneath the jokes you write, and the work you do.


- Judy Carter

Author of The Comedy Bible, Motivational-Humorist, and Comedy Coach. Coming in 2013 "Make a Career Out of The Message of You."

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Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.