Help & Advice

Ask a Question

From questions about booking speakers and talent, to the contractual process and what you can expect on the day; with two decades experience at the forefront of our industry we've hopefully answered most of your queries here, but if not, please call us and one of our experienced agents will be happy help you.

What is the difference between an after dinner speaker and a comedian?

The difference between an after dinner speaker and a comedian can be confusing, and there's sometimes a fine line between a “funny” after dinner speaker and a stand-up comic. In fact, depending on the nature of your event and what is required of the entertainer, there are a number artists on our roster who easily qualify as both.

The lines are further blurred when an after dinner speaker is particularly funny. Broadly, a speaker will entertain the audience with stories or anecdotes, but at the end of the speech they'll generally leave the audience informed, inspired or in awe; having learnt something about them, their job or industry. So whilst they may make you laugh along the way, the 'hook' is their story and they will engage the audience with fascinating tales, insights and anecdotes.

When it comes to a stand up comedian, first and foremost their role is to be funny and make the audience laugh continually throughout their time on stage. Some may tell stories or anecdotes and talk about themselves, others are observational comedians or satirists, and others are purely one-liner and 'gag merchants', but ultimately they are booked for one primary reason – to make the audience laugh!

Some comedians also place a lot of emphasis on playing with the audience and engage in audience interaction – which by its nature is unscripted – whereas an after dinner speech will be fully scripted and have a clear start, middle and end. It may be a standard talk, which has been adapted for the audience, and the speaker may even ad-lib a bit on the night, but broadly, it will be a scripted and rehearsed talk.

In terms of the differences you can expect on the night – typically an after dinner speaker will join guests for lunch or dinner and then deliver their speech once coffees have been served, generally from a stage and often behind a lectern. For smaller and more intimate events, he/she may deliver the talk standing at their table. Typically they will speak for around 30 minutes.

In general, stand-up comedians do not dine with guests. If they do, it’s certainly the exception and most do not choose to as a preference. They will usually come on at the end of the meal and perform their set on stage. As stand up comedians are slightly less formal than speakers, generally they prefer not to speak from a lectern and usually request a basic handheld microphone and a stand. Typically a comedian’s performance is slightly shorter than an after dinner speaker, so expect somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes.

If you’re unsure what, or who is right for your event, please browse our other questions below and speak to one of our friendly agents who will be delighted to help and advise on your specific requirements. Enquire online or contact us by phone or email.

Tweets @NMPLive

From presenting the BBC’s Six O’Clock News, to dashing over to The Gallery in Soho half an hour later, journalist… https://t.co/YDRYuFoZ27

Feb 21

What does it take to become a real-life #bodyguard? Watch our interview with the world’s top female Close Protectio… https://t.co/bpgO9qhqbE

Feb 19

👍🏻 Great feedback, as always, fo@TheNickLeesonon who was speaking t@KraftHeinzCoCo last week as part of their EMEAhttps://t.co/84n1rNPTB2B2

Feb 15

Really pleased with the service that we got from NMP Live Ltd.

Zahir White, Media Officer - Cats Protection
MORE TESTIMONIALS