I don’t need to tell you how important the Blue & Gold banquet is to your Scouts and their families – you already know that! ☺ But what about the entertainment? 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 Cubmaster, 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 Ways are and how you can avoid them, 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 youth speaker, expert on character education programs, and professional magician. For nearly 20 years my unique presentations consisting of magic, mind reading, motivation, comedy and audience participation have helped elementary, middle and high schools, libraries, and Blue & Gold banquet clients all across North America. I’m revealing this information for two main reasons:
REASON #1: If you end up hiring a presenter 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 Cubmasters look bad. It puts a black eye on my profession.
Let’s get started…
Blue & Gold Tip #1: Schedule Your Entertainer To Start After Dinner
This is a HUGE tip, and probably the most important thing in the report! While the customary approach with Blue & Gold banquets has been to schedule the entertainment for after the awards, the truth is it’s a better plan to start the entertainment right after dessert and BEFORE the awards.
The awards is what the Scouts and families are most looking forward to and as far as they are concerned, the high point of the evening. That being said, a great entertainer can also serve as an equal high point of the evening, but if the audience goes into the entertainment with the attitude that they’ve already had the best part of the evening, it will be much harder for the entertainer to truly engage everyone.
Secondly, after children have been sitting for a long period of time, they tend to get restless, making an entertainer’s job that much harder at the end of the evening. To put it another way, everyone is anticipating the awards and respect for that portion of the evening is a given. An entertainer, even a great one, has to earn the respect of the attendees.
Blue & Gold Tip #2: Is Your Entertainer Is A Family Show & Scout Show Specialist?
There are a lot of entertainers who offer themselves as “for all occasions.” However, many entertainers who believe their acts are for everyone are often incorrect as performing for families and specifically for children is a very specialized niche and requires a great deal of preparation, practice, and knowledge. Many entertainers who perform primarily for adults feel as though, when performing for families, they need to add humor and touches to appeal to the adults…leading many to add humor that is entirely not suitable for children!
In short, you need to ask if your potential entertainer’s act is completely appropriate for children WITHOUT any ‘adult humor.’
To complicate matters further, you’ll need to ensure that your entertainer is capable of entertaining the adults AND the children in a manner that eliminates any need for inappropriate or ‘blue’ humor. This requires a special touch and sophistication – think of the Pixar movies. Outwardly, those movies appear to be simple cartoons aimed at young children, but as most people who watch Pixar movies know, there is a high degree of sophisticated humor completely appropriate for adults but with no ‘blue’ humor.
To summarize, your entertainer needs to entertain a wide age range, from young children (age 4 and up) all the way up to senior citizens…all the while sprinkling in some reinforcements of some of the Scouts’ most cherished values and beliefs as a way of ensuring the audience will be more invested in the performance, no easy feat!
Blue & Gold Tip #3: Is Your Entertainer Experienced?
Every entertainer has to start somewhere, but your Blue & Gold banquet 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.
Blue & Gold Tip #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, layout of the banquet area, 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 get on and off the presenting/awards 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 awards, Arrow of Light ceremonies 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 and I can do it while the other presentations are starting!)
However, if your banquet hall has an elevated stage with more space, you may be able to take advantage of that space with a longer, more elaborate show. (My Gold show is longer, 45-50 minutes, and features larger props and decorations. Plus, I can float a child in the air!)
Things to keep in mind before deciding on a longer show is the length of your banquet’s activities and whether or not your attendees would prefer a longer show or not. 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 group better than any entertainer. Maybe your group would in fact enjoy a longer show. Maybe they’d prefer a shorter snack-size entertainment as opposed to a full course meal length. Something to think about.
Blue & Gold Tip #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 table-to-table settings. 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!
Blue & Gold Tip #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 others 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.
Blue & Gold Tip #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 Cubmaster or Blue & Gold 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 it so you get the quality programming that you and your Scouts so richly deserve.
If I can help you or if you want to contact me, please call (716) 940-8963.
Magician & Motivator