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Unlike comedy club or theatre crowds, event audiences have not paid specifically to see your cabaret artist - or any other kind of live performance. Other things will be vying for their attention, the house lights will have to remain up, and a third of the guests will probably start off with their backs to the stage. Live comedy can engage and unify audiences more than any other form of entertainment, but for maximum effect it helps to follow some basic rules.
The audience must be able to see and hear the artist. If possible avoid towering table centres and an acre of dancefloor between stage and audience. When the artist arrives, usually no more than an hour before going onstage, brief him/her on the day's events and any sensitivities about the host organisation, sponsors or guests. Try to keep to the timetable, allow the audience to have a 'comfort break' before the show, ensure that waiters have cleared the room, agree how the artist should be introduced - and then leave it to him.
The following comedy luminaries all appeared on JLA's Real Variety Show - long before they became luminaries:
Dara O Briain
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