Laughing All The Way To The Banks

Corporate belts may have been taken in a few notches over the credit crunch, but there is one cost City firms won’t cut: comedy.

The JLA Speakers Bureau, the UK’s biggest corporate entertainment company, is due to post record annual revenues next month – up 17pc on the previous year – after corporate clients between them booked entertainers for 2,100 events, including about 300 awards ceremonies, over the last year.

By “far and away” the most in-demand performer by City firms is Ellis Watson, the chief of The Beano publisher DC Thomson – although Michael Woodford, the Olympus whistleblower, is “starting to build up momentum”, and former HSBC chief economist Dennis Turner is an evergreen hit.

Jeremy Lee, who founded JLA in 1990, tells me: “After-dinner speakers, entertainers and presenters are not seen as luxury items. The crunch tested whether they are luxury items and, demonstrably, they are not.”

But with prices for JLA’s acts stretching up to £50,000, perhaps not everyone will see the funny side.

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