9-5 At The Improv - Business Lessons from the World of Comedy

You’ve probably never thought much about the similarities between comedy and business.  But I have. Because I’m both a comedian, and a business person.   

With more than two decades on stage, I’ve developed certain rules of the craft. Here are my tenets of comedy success with the corresponding business take away.  

First rule of comedy: be funny. 
Biz Lesson: Deliver on the very basics of why your customers seek you.  

Anyone can get the cheap, dumb laugh, challenge yourself to create heady material. 
Biz Lesson: It’s easy to put out low grade product and charge less.  

Nobody complains that you’re too funny.  
Biz Lesson: Clients never gripe about your company being too good at what you do.  

Be-labored set ups and impertinent details are the stuff of amateur hour.    
Biz Lesson: Get to the point, don’t waste your customer’s time.  

Don’t punish your crowd for what they had no control over.  
Biz Lesson: Don’t mistreat today’s client for what happened to you yesterday.  

What happens backstage is of no consequence to your audience.  
Biz Lesson: Nobody cares about your employee problems or the truck that broke down, they simply want what they paid for! 

Only joke writers get paid for jokes — performers get paid for laughs. 
Biz Lesson: Understand what you deliver and what you’re being paid to provide. 

Don’t talk through the punchline.  
Biz Lesson: Stop over- selling and let the client appreciate how amazing you are.

Sample new material and alternate methods of delivery at each performance. 
Biz Lesson: Experiment with new ideas and products or you’ll get stale (and copied!).  

Your favorite town to work is the one you’re paid to be in right now.  
Biz Lesson: Nothing is more important than the customer you are serving at this time. 

A successful show is 25% dependent on room set up and audience management. 
Biz Lesson: Arrange the environment so your business can prosper. 

Always keep a few tricks up your sleeve — you’ll need them eventually.  
Biz Lesson: You’ll have bad days.  Maintain back up options to preserve the customer experience. 

Immediately after the show, dissect your material and critique your performance.
Biz Lesson: Critical analysis and constant improvement are the traits of a true pro. 

Professionals deliver when it’s showtime.  Period. 
Biz Lesson: Professionals deliver when it’s showtime.  Period.  (No translation required!)  

To be strong, you'll use everything you've ever learned.
Biz Lesson: There’s no substitute for experience - if you’re smart enough to learn from your experience! 

Audiences don't laugh at what they can't relate to.  
Biz Lesson: Make yourself relatable and your product understandable.  

If you have to drink to be funny, this isn’t the business for you. 
Biz Lesson: Whatever you do for a living, you’re paid to perform.  Every day.  If you require substances to confidently demonstrate your talent, you need counseling or a career change.   

If you’re not funny, don’t try to be.
Biz Lesson: There are some things your business has no business doing. 

Damian Mason delivers hilarious presentations with solid business take aways at meetings throughout North America.  Find him at www.damianmason.com 

Angie Carel