Mark Wade and I were talking the other day.
He was telling me the story of a professional ventriloquist who found out he was working in their area. This person asked Mark if he could come along and watch his show.
Following the program, as Mark was packing up, this entertainer started talking to his contact. What followed was extremely unprofessional.
The act handed Mark’s contact his card and attempted to get the show for the following year.
I’ve had the same thing happen.
It started me thinking – what ever happened to Entertainer’s Etiquette.
In most cases, these faux pas are made by people who don’t have a clue. Sometimes they are just starting out and haven’t had time to learn the business. But occasionally they are people who should know better.
So what is proper etiquette for entertainers?
It comes down to common sense, a matter of respect and a concept of how this business works.
I’ll give you some examples…
In the case of an act trying to get a show from someone else’s contact, that is a no-no. You were invited along to a show. (Or attended one.) Approaching the entertainer’s contact is rude and insensitive. It will quickly make you persona non grata to ever attend one of their shows again. Why should they friend or help you when you try to steal their business?
All because you thought, I’m good, they should hire me!
The truth is, the contact is basking in the glow of a great performance. Their focus is on the entertainer they hired. You come across as someone just focused on trying to get their money.
It is the same way for agents.
I know a lot of acts who get a show from an agent and then give out their own business cards. They tell the client to call them next time they need a show.
These acts claim the agent takes too much. After all, they are the ones doing the show.
First, the agent deserves their cut.
They had the client – you didn’t. They served the client by finding a great act (you) to do the show.
And trying to cut them out hurts you in so many ways …
The contact is not your client. The agent is. And word of this will get back to the agent because they have already developed a relationship with that contact.
You are not right for every show. The client may not want you back next year. They may like to change things up for their audience. The agent can help them with that. For that reason, you can bet they will hear about your offer.
Finally, you are thinking short term. You are thinking one client. The agent has many. They could book you multiple shows in a year and use you for years to come.
That client – IF they have you back, would only be one show. The numbers don’t make sense.
Many shows vs one?
Who is that stupid? The people who try to go around someone else for a gig. That is who.
Don’t do it!
Another type of etiquette for performers:
From the time I was a child, my parents told me not to touch something that wasn’t yours. Today, that concept is almost lost on the majority.
It especially holds true for entertainers.
Chances are there will be a time when you work with others. They will have equipment and personal items, just like you. Respect their property and space.
Would you like someone opening your case and playing with your equipment?
Probably not unless you are there and oversee it.
Still there are acts who don’t respect other people’s property. I’ve experienced folks who have moved things. (That’s right – you don’t even move something without permission!)
I’ve experienced people who have picked up something and set it down incorrrectly. Had I not noticed the change it would have affected my show.
I’ve heard tales of people breaking things by playing with them. In one case, the “performer” had the nerve to put it down and never say anything. They later admitted to breaking the item and apologized, but it didn’t help the act that had to deal with a damaged prop.
I think it boils down to the golden rule.
If you wouldn’t like someone trying to take your shows, don’t do it to them.
If you wouldn’t like someone doing your act, don’t use material from others.
If you wouldn’t like someone playing with your props or going through your stuff, don’t do it to others.
A bit of decency will take you further in show business than you can imagine.