7 Questions to Ask Your Fair or Festival Entertainer
Dear Event Coordinator,
I don’t need to tell you how important the entertainment is to your event’s and their guests – you already know that! The reality is this – if your entertainer shows up late or does something else to tarnish your event, your guests will remember that for a VERY long time.
My intention with this little report is simply offer a few tidbits to make your event’s entertainment run smoothly, like a well-oiled machine! Chances are, if you’re an experienced in working with fairs or festivals, you already know these tips, but you’ve you’re just starting out, you may find some helpful nuggets in here.
In just a minute, I’m going to reveal what the ‘7 Things’ are and how they can help you, but first let me answer a couple of questions that are probably on your mind:
Who Are You And Why Are You Revealing This Information?
My name is Cris Johnson and I’m a professional magician and stage hypnotist. For nearly 20 years my unique presentations consisting of magic, mind reading, hypnosis, comedy and audience participation have helped corporate groups, schools, libraries, and fair/festival clients all across North America. I’m revealing this information for two main reasons:
REASON #1: If you end up hiring an entertainer who does a poor job, this closes the field not only to me but other competent professionals. Odds are, if the person you hire stinks, you’ll be very reluctant to hire a similar type of performer in the future.
REASON #2: I HATE to see bad performers rip people off and make fair/festival entertainment coordinators look bad. It puts a black eye on my profession.
Let’s get started…
Entertainment Question #1: Does Your Entertainer Specialize in FAMILY Entertainment?
This is a HUGE tip, and probably the most important thing in the report! Too many entertainers feel as though they must add some adult humor in order to appeal to everyone. The truth is, with families and children of all ages attending these events, the entertainer MUST work in a family-friendly manner. If not, that entertainer’s poor choices could reflect badly on your event…resulting in a lower turnout.
Entertainment Question #2: Is Your Entertainer Insured?
No one likes to think of anything bad happening, but it’s always good to be prepared. Besides, finding out if your entertainer is insured is one additional way to find out if they are a true professional or merely some part-timer looking to make a little money on the side.
BONUS TIP: Find out if your entertainer can also list your event location as an “additional insured” for added protection! If you’re not familiar with this, in a nutshell it involves having the entertainer’s insurance listing the dates and location of your event as an addendum to their insurance.
Entertainer Question #3: Is Your Entertainer Experienced?
Every entertainer has to start somewhere, but your fair or festival requires someone with experience at handling a large audience comprised of a wide variety of ages.
Find out how long your entertainer has been in business…and then ask if they offer a current act.
I went to a library in my area a few years back to watch a local magician perform. His costume, props, and even scripted lines were horribly dated, sounding as though he started performing in the sixties.
While this may have simply been an innocent show that was outdated, the sad fact was that the entertainer was using very old and incredibly un-PC humor, offending several people in the process.
A quality entertainer should be experienced yet flexible enough to allow their act to evolve with the times.
Entertainer Question #4: Does Your Entertainer Offer Different Packages?
This is important! Every event has it’s own needs. Every event is different in terms of the number of people, details of the performing area (will you have your entertainer on the grass, a raised stage, section of the parking lot, etc?), even the length of entertainment for that event, size of their budget, and more.
A quality entertainer understands this and will have several different options for the group to consider. A good rule of thumb is three choices. Any more than three and the selection process becomes too difficult.
What are some good options to look for? A shorter, simple-to-stage show that is easy to set up in any area is preferable when space is tight. This kind of show should be effective for a large audience yet the entertainer should be able to move their equipment out of the way in just a few minutes in order to transition quickly to the next act and more. (My Basic show is 30-35 minutes in length, is suitable for audiences of 20-300 people and can be moved away from the performing area in about 3 minutes!)
However, if your fair or festival has an elevated stage with more space, you may be able to take advantage of that space with a longer, more elaborate show. (My Deluxe show is longer, 45-50 minutes, and features larger props and a couple of illusions including floating a child in the air!)
Things to keep in mind before deciding on a longer show what else is going on at your fair or festival. Many event planners mistakenly think a longer show is better, but not always. When the Lord of The Rings movies came out, they were hailed as instant classics but even the most ardent fans complained about the length of the films.
You obviously know your event better than any entertainer. Maybe your attendees would in fact enjoy a longer show. Maybe they’d prefer a shorter snack-size entertainment as opposed to a full course meal length. A longer show means less time the guests are visiting other vendors. Something to think about.
Entertainment Question #5: Will Your Entertainer Adapt To Your Event?
Entertainers of all kinds need different things. Some can perform on a stage or a floor, while others have very specific lighting or staging needs in order to be a success. Find out what staging requirements your entertainer needs.
Will they have to be on an elevated stage? Do they need theater style seating? How many people is the show designed for? Some performers’ acts are designed for strolling entertainment – interacting with small groups of guests as they are walking about. Some acts are best viewed in a huge theater with a thousand people. Ask questions and find out what your entertainer can (and CAN’T) do.
I was performing at a library recently, and the space they gave me to perform was VERY tiny, about half of what I usually get. I made a few slight adjustments and pulled off the show without any problem. Afterwards, the director told me how appreciative she was that I didn’t present her with a “list of demands” before I started the show! She then told me about another childrens’ entertainer in Western New York who has a stellar reputation of putting on a great show. However, when he arrived to perform at her library, he brought in wayyyyyy too much equipment and tried to cram it into a space that was about a third of what he needed. In short, as good of an entertainer as he was, he was unable or unwilling to adapt to the unusual conditions he encountered.
A good entertainer can adjust their show to fit your event. IMPORTANT: Beware of any entertainer who does NOT ask any specific questions about YOUR event!
Entertainment Question #6: Is Your Entertainer Self-Contained?
What is “self-contained?” It means that the entertainer brings everything he or she needs to successfully perform their show…without needing anything from you. Let’s face it, you’ll have enough to worry about without having to cater to a prima donna showman asking for the red carpet treatment.
I was performing at a high school event a few years back that was very extensive and involved a number of different entertainers. One of the other entertainers walked into the school’s auditorium and asked where his dressing room was. I just shook my head and smiled.
Be sure to ask your entertainer what their needs are, and whether their show will fit into your event.
Entertainment Question #7: Does Your Entertainer Guarantee His/Her Services?
In most cases, you can avoid falling prey to a bad presenter, entertainer, or entertainment agency by insisting that they give you a 100% money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with their presentation.
This is the ultimate test as to whether someone really believes in what they are offering or if they are just full of hot air. If a performer really believes in the quality of their program, they shouldn’t hesitate to guarantee it.
Bottom line: Some performers may argue that people will take advantage of them if they offer a guarantee. This is a bunch of bunk. I have ALWAYS offered a rock-solid, no-questions-asked 100% “Better-Than-Money-Back” guarantee and in the nearly 20 years that I have offered a guarantee and over the thousands of performances, no one has EVER requested their money back. In fact many schools and libraries have me back year after year. This past year, for example, one school hired me THREE times in a six-month period while several libraries each hired me 3 times over a three-month period!
If the performer you’re considering for your event won’t back up their presentation with a guarantee…WATCH OUT!
Well, there you have it. Obviously, if you’re a seasoned fair or festival event coordinator you may have already known some of the secrets revealed in this report. But I hope you found a few gems that you can use to ensure that your next event turns out exactly as you want.
If I can help you or if you want to contact me, please call (716) 940-8963.
Magician, Hypnotist, Mind Reader