I’ve talked about this before.

I’ll probably talk about this again.

It is one of the worst mistakes ANY entertainer can make. It shows a total lack of professionalism.

And I don’t want you to make it.

Stick to your time on stage!

This comes up because yesterday, October 16, (yeah, I write these that far ahead) I was the MC for a library talent showcase.

Everyone who does kid shows wants to work in libraries. Professional, part-time, retirees, teachers who are off in the summer, kids who don’t want a “real job”, etc.

Quite frankly, most of the talent is borderline.

I don’t say that to be mean. I’m telling you what I see. So if you have an act that truly entertains, a library showcase is a great way to get work.

But only if you are completely professional and respect the audience’s time.

That day the showcase started at 9:30 am. It was to end at 3:45 pm. We had to be out of the rented building by 4:00 pm.

They had two types of spots – a showcase and a spotlight. The showcase spot was 15 minutes in length. The spotlight was 5 minutes in length.

The audience of librarians all had evaluation sheets that they had to fill out. There would be 20 minute breaks so the librarians could use the restrooms, grab a dink and visit the expo on the upper floor.

The expo is a small tradeshow where the acts who don’t showcase can meet and talk with the librarians. Some of the showcase acts had tables there too.

Acts are scheduled back to back. You are told in the paperwork you have exactly your time allowance. You must set up, do your presentation and have everything offstage in that timeframe.

That was also explained by me as MC when they came in to prepare to go on. There was backstage area to set up. Sound was provided. All they needed to do was walk out there, do a quick example of their talent and talk to the librarians about the act. Possibly answer some questions.

Can you guess?

Things ran over. Way over. One five minute spotlight turned into 10 when she decided to sing an extra song. Even though the coordinator had told her time was up. And she didn’t sing a verse or two. She sang the whole song.

After six acts, we were only 5 minutes over. The break would be shortened to 15 minutes. The librarians grabbed their drinks, a couple probably used the restrooms. A few went to the expo. Not ideal, but we’d be back on track.

The next segment had five acts. Again, things ran over. This time by about 12 minutes. This shortened the lunch hour to a lunch 30 minutes. Enough time to eat, but little time left for the expo.

The third set consisted of 8 acts, an act didn’t show up. Good impression to make when you are looking to be hired.

We moved someone up to take his place. She wasn’t quite ready but said it would only take her a minute or two. I went out and did a few minutes to cover. When I introduced her, she carried her box on stage and took over 5 minutes to set up her props. Then she proceeded to do a 15 minute presentation.

Can you guess? Yeah, she was supposed to be a spotlight. That segment ran us way overtime. Another Spotlight act did over 10 minutes. A showcase act did 20.

Our last break was shortened to 5 minutes. I made an executive decision and extended it to 10, starting the last segment 5 minutes late. That audience needed a break. It was also their last chance to visit the expo. Needless to say, no one made it there.

Six acts were on the last segment. I was second with a 5 minute Spotlight. The act before me ran over. He sang with puppets. (Not a ventriloquist.) I walked out with Dangerous, did 2 minutes, then introduced the next act. They went over.

So did the next.

Luckily the last two spotlights were both pros and they did less than 5 minutes each.

We ended at 3:55.

Who got hurt by this?

Well, for starters, the entertainers in the Expo that did not showcase. They really only had a few minutes to see librarians and talk to them. And many traveled a couple of hours to be there.

The librarians. The acts that ran over tied up their time. It shortened their breaks. It made them less attentive and tired as the day wore on.

Themselves. If an act can’t be there, set and ready to go when they are supposed to, why hire them? How come the other acts nailed their spots and a few “stars in their own minds” couldn’t. That hurt their impression with the audience. You could see the audience deflate when someone’s time was up and they continued.

I can also pretty much guarantee the other acts will not be recommending these acts. They weren’t considerate of them being in the Expo. (Expo was closed during the showcase and many came down to watch.)

Was I upset that I only did two minutes? No. I did a strong two minutes and it drew a big round of applause and a ton of laughs.

If you can’t capture the audience in the first few minutes, the rest of the act is going to suffer. If you need longer to convince a showcase audience you are a good entertainer, you may not be ready to showcase.

Don’t be so impressed with your own skill that you focus only on it and not those around you.

Be kind – do your time.