Mouth for Sale: No Two-Drink Minimum

Planners are understandably skittish about hiring comedians to perform at meetings— concerns about vulgarity, offending attendees, or the performance simply falling flat can make comics a dicey option. Scott Bloom, however, has managed to tiptoe through the minefield and carve out a niche as a corporate host and a keynote speaker who happens to also be funny.

"I'm not doing stand-up comedy, I'm doing corporate comedy. The material is about them—riffs on their acronyms and things like that. It's not about me telling mother-in-law jokes," he explains. Bloom does have a stand-up comedy background, which transitioned into work as a game show host, a format he found translated well into the conference environment because it reinforces information for attendees. "It becomes like a sporting event. [The planner's] expectations are always exceeded, because they don't expect people will get as into it as they do," says Bloom.

Today, Bloom is enlisted by the likes of IBM, Allstate, and the Financial and Insurance Conference Planners, primarily to introduce executives, provide humorous transitions between program elements, and emcee the event. He also offers keynote presentations on the power of teamwork and says, "The theme that I'm really starting to develop as a keynoter is having passion for what you're doing."

Bloom is clearly passionate about his own work—an enthusiasm and concern for the audience is apparent as he describes the importance of keeping an event flowing smoothly and ensuring that attendees are energized even during multiple-day meetings. "A meeting needs something to keep the audience alert, engaged, and having fun. I'm able to make an event seem like it flies by," he says. The point is to enable attendees to "have a good time while they learn." He adds that planners of events with a serious subject matter shouldn't dismiss the idea of hiring a humorous speaker. Bloom's humor never comes at the expense of the meeting's subject. "I'm never making fun of the product or the disease," he explains.

"I know how to keep the clients happy and keep them on my side," says Bloom, who also avoids making executives the butt of jokes, even if management claims it's a fun idea. "My humor has never been abusive or assaultive," he says. "I know exactly where the line is. I might get close to it, but I won't go over it."

Originally published January 01, 2008

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