Now in talking about how to craft appropriate humor, I’ve hit on some of the things you should ask a client. I’ll get to more of those later, but right now, I’d like to focus on a few things that you DON’T ask your client. Some things don’t need to be asked and you actually should stay away from.
First off, don’t ask them if there are any subjects that you should stay away from. Remember, you are a professional. They hired you because they presume you know what not to say. As my buddy Frank King says, we get paid for knowing what not to say on stage. You don’t want the client to think that you don’t know what’s appropriate and you certainly don’t want them to worry that if they don’t remember ALL the taboo subjects you should stay away from, that you might slip up and say something horribly insulting. If it’s a big taboo, like don’t do any blind jokes at the blind merchants convention, trust me, they will tell you. But don’t put the bug in their ear that you need any guidance on what NOT to say.
Another thing not to mention ahead of time is the jokes you wrote for them. Trust me, the client WILL find something wrong with many of the jokes. They will second, third and fourth guess you on it, and then all your hard work as well as some great material you’ve spent time writing, is down the drain. I think in the 16 years of doing comedy, I’ve probably only hit a topic 2 or 3 times that I maybe shouldn’t have mentioned. And I have so much faith in the first 5 minutes of my material, that I know I can get them back regardless of whatever I said that they didn’t like. One time I did a show for a group that had a reputation for heavy partying. I made a quick reference to it in the beginning of the show, and I shouldn’t have. Unknown to me, they were trying to change their image. Note to self, stay away from partying jokes unless you really, really, really know the crowd.