Comedy entertainment is available for intimate gatherings of under 20 or for large festivals with more than 1,000 attendees. Comedy acts can be geared to any age audience and for any occasion, including weddings, birthdays, school events, sporting events, festivals, corporate parties, fundraisers and more. Several factors affect costs.
Highly sought after comedians typically charge higher fees than comedians who are just starting out or who are not as well-known. Adam Oliensis of LoHud Comedy in Blauvelt, New York, has been rated the top comedy act three years running in New York, and as a result, he has increased his rates a certain percentage each year. Reputation provides credibility, giving clients more confidence in the services they’re buying. It also increases competition for the comedian’s time, often resulting in a higher rates.
Private show rates
Some comedians have set rates for their shows, with a little give or take, depending on the length of the performance and the size or type of audience. Todd Charles of the Todd Charles Comedy Spectacular in Sarasota, Florida, explains that an additional 15 minutes doesn’t greatly affect his costs because he still has to drive to the location and load and unload the same amount of equipment. Here are some examples of show rates:
40- to 45-minute presentation for a private audience: $250
- Shorter, nearby show for clients on a budget or with special circumstances: $150
- 30- to 45-minutes: $300 to start for events within close driving range
Commercial show rates
Performing for large audiences, commercial audiences (such as at a bar where the host may make money off of the guests) or at festivals typically costs more, even if it is for the same length of time as a private show. According to Oliensis of LoHud Comedy, upscale corporate events can be high-pressure, which typically demands a higher rate. Here are a few examples of show rates in this category:
Large corporate (and similar) events: $1 per guest
40- to 45-minute presentations for small commercial audiences, such as performing at a bar, where the host is earning money off of the guests: $300–$350
- One show at a large corporate event or fair: $500–$1,000
- A full evening of comedy at a large corporate affair: $3,000 (higher end)
Some comedians charge fees to cover travel to and from an event site, increasing the total cost of services. Depending on the comedian and how great the demand is (or is not) for entertainment in their area, some comedians charge a fee for anything outside their immediate area. Other comedians, such as Todd Charles Comedy Spectacular, travel frequently are willing to go further afield. When performing in New York City, LoHud Comedy factors in the $15 bridge toll, gas and $20 parking (approximately $40 out-of-pocket total) when quoting gigs.
Other cost factors
In addition to reputation, travel costs, sound equipment and the actual performance, a comedian’s rates often help cover the cost of lead generation, developing a web presence, marketing their services, negotiating with customers and the ongoing cost of material development. In addition, geographic location affects costs. Comedians in areas with a higher cost of living and more competition, such as New York City, typically charge higher rates.
Book midweek for lower rates. Most people throw parties on Fridays or Saturdays, so there is more competition for an entertainer’s services. Weekday rates are often lower.