I performed at the JW Marriott is Muskoka, Ontario a few nights ago. A corporate event for tradespeople. It was SO much fun. I love the venue and the show was amazing. So wonderful having a bunch of tradespeople laughing and coming up to me after the show telling me stories from working the trades. My own family are all in the trades so there’s a special place in my heart for events attended by people who’ve spent a lifetime on the tools.
The common complaint levelled at corporate performing from other artists is that the conditions are always terrible, and the conference facility never listens to the performers requests. Therefore, corporate is awful and not to be considered OR they take the job and perform so badly at it that the company will never have entertainment again. I reject both these notions. Here’s the thing; I’ve made my living exclusively as a conference and convention act for most of my career. There’s reasons I am repeatedly hired year after year to perform for some of the best and biggest conferences in North America. Those reasons are two fold:
Number 1 – I kill every show; every time. Always. I’m never seen not doing well.
Number 2 – I’m a stickler for details about the performing environment. I work with the agent or conference planner and speak DIRECTLY to the venue. Staging, room set up, sound. These are as much or more important than having a good solid clean. If you get those things organized correctly and have the performance start at the correct time in the evening, success is always guaranteed. This is what your client is PAYING YOU FOR. Be on top of these things. Please.
I recently heard a story about a comic hired by an agency to work a conference event and the client paid a premium price for her. She died, she died BADLY. To me this was no surprise. This particular comic is very vocal industry wide about her distain for corporate performance. The agent knew this also. The client wanted this comedian because they had seen her on tv from a comedy festival. Bad all around.
Recipe for disaster that whole thing was. It’s the agents job to educate a client and let them know that just because someone does well on tv, in a theatre, or comedy club does not mean they will do well at your corporate event. Just because YOU the client think they’re a good act doesn’t make it so. You need to listen to professional bookers and performers who understand what the rules of engagement are for this industry.
There are considerations that comedians and many other artists simply do not understand, it’s a niche market; conference and convention shows. Good entertainment is highly specialized. Crafting a show that works perfectly every time can take a decade or more. The performance must be clean, both in terms of content and language. Zero chance to offend anyone. Entertainment must dress appropriately. The act must know how to have the venue set up and at what time to go on to make the performance work. There are a host of other tips and tricks that only the real professionals know. That knowledge is partially what a client is paying for. In the case of this story I feel like both the comedian AND the agent completely screwed this client. The fall out is that we now the client will never hire comedy oriented entertainment again. A net loss for all of us purely because of greed.
Corporate is my favourite of all types of performance. I understand that world and thrive in it. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you’re looking to hire entertainment for your corporate event, whatever type of event that is; PLEASE hire a professional. Someone with experience and who works exclusively in this market. Yes, you may have to pay a premium for good professional work. End of the day though, you’ll want something that reflects well on you and your company and that everyone enjoys. Much like with mechanics, painters, plumbers or anything else…. You get what you pay for.
That’s all for now, I wish you the best of luck with this upcoming conference and holiday season.
Good Night and Good Luck,