About This Jester Festival entertainer;
Although this weeks blog is entitled “Jester festival entertainer”, I’m actually a festival entertainer who gets a lot of repeat bookings. Many go back over 10 years. Some go back over 20 years! That’s nearly a quarter of a century of performing at the same festival year after year. So in this blog entry I’ve decided that, for the first time ever, I’m going to tell you some of the ways I insure repeat bookings.
Like I say, some shows have used me for over 20 years! So trust me when I say these ideas work. Adapt them to your persona and they will work for you as well.
Last weekend we were performing our “Total Immersion” show at a country fair on the grounds of Shugborough Hall. We arrived early on Saturday morning and eagerly set about putting up our brightly coloured medieval encampment. Then, once we were set up I headed down to the main gate, or “front of house” as we say in the trade. here I’d meet the public as they enter.
The show didn’t open until 10 a.m. I knew that there’d be no public there until 9 45 a.m. and my first show wasn’t until 10 30 a.m. But still I was there at 9 30 a.m. and here’s why.
Secret To Success;
I want every show that books me too want to book me next year as well. As this isn’t just good for my ego, but also my bank account. To do this the show needs to be a success and I need to be seen making it a success. So this week’s blog is an in depth look at some of the ways I achieve this. That doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you all about the routines I use. After all, what works for my persona may not work for yours. Instead I’m going to tell you the theory behind what I do and why it works. That way you can take the bare bones and add your own skin to it. As a stand up performer I know that the secret to a successful show is to have a strong beginning, middle and end. Well believe it or not, this also applies not just to your performance, but to the whole event.
Having polite car parking attendants and enough cash tills to negate any long queues is an ok beginning, not a strong beginning. A strong beginning is where the public are laughing before they even enter the event. Where someone can answer simple questions whilst keeping the queues amused. A strong beginning means that they will only remember the funny man at the entrance, not the cost of entry.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve got there early. I now have time to look at the program and see what’s on. Talk to the gate crew and ask a few questions (even if you already know the answers, ask anyway as it makes you look keen). Most importantly of all, if they aren’t rushing around in a last minute panic, have a quick laugh and joke with them. Get them on your side. Why? Because they are going to help get you that repeat booking, they just don’t know it yet.
By the time the public start turning up you need to know the following;
First Aid Tent;
In over 29 years of performing, I’ve never once needed to tell someone in the queue where the first aid tent is, but it’s always a good thing to know. Afteral, one day it might be me that ends up needing it (have you seen my knife juggling).
Where the nearest toilets to the gate are. After all, there’s no telling how far they have driven to get to the show and no one wants them to have to turn around again and go home just because little billy has had an accident. Well, not before they have paid to get in anyway.
Sure, they can ask the person on the till once they get to the front of the queue, but if little billy is bursting, then it’s much better if you escort billy and a parent to the toilet (if the event is well laid out then there will be one just inside the gate). Then escort them back to their place in the queue.
One of my meet and greet routines involves telling the queues what on and “bigging them up”. This does two things. It not only adds to the excitement and expectation, but also helps convince people that the shows worth the money. You’d be surprised at how many families turn up, look at the entrance fee, then turn around and go back home. Thats a lot harder to do if the funny man has just told little billy about the jousting etc. However, never…… NEVER tell them what time the other shows are on, or where in the show ground they are performing. This is really important. If you want to know why, then read on.
Now if you’ve done the above right and if you’re good at your job. Then it’s not just the public who are going to talk about how funny you were, but also the gate crew. Also, they’ll talk about how you made their job easier. Something that will get back to the event organiser, and that’s good news for you.
All of the above has taken around 45 minutes. Sure, it’s more than they booked you to do, but look at it this way. You can spend more than 45 minutes looking for a booking for next year. Then you have to add on to that the time taken to email and ring a new event that may or may not book you. Truth is that 45 minutes has saved you a lot of time, guaranteed your financial well being and impressed not just that client, but also any other potential clients that have turned up to see what the oppositions booked.
The First Sneaky Bit;
When you told the queues what’s on and “bigged them up”, you didn’t tell them when and where they are performing. However, you did tell them where and when your first show is. Also, you “forgot” to mention that you’re doing 3 shows a day. You only mentioned your first show.
So far you’re the best (and only) thing they’ve seen. The kids are amazed by your magic and the parents are amused by your jokes. They know where and when you’re doing a show. All these things will help to ensure that your first show is a big one, and that’s important as the events only just opened, so the field isn’t at full capacity yet. This means that the event organiser can stand in the middle of the field and see all the stages and if you’ve got the biggest and loudest crowd, then that’s going to stick in his mind. In fact that’s one of the main reasons he is going to book you for this show again. Not in 6 months time, but at the end of this weekend.
The strong middle is basicly your shows and walkabout routines. There’s no point in me telling you what to do there as it’s your show, not mine. but here’s some advice on how to use your performance to your advantage.
If like myself, you’re booked to perform walk about as well as shows, always make sure that, whilst interacting with the public, you not only let them know where and when your next show is, but also invite them to come and watch it. Make the invite sound genuine and personal. This last bit really makes a difference with the children. They love the fact that the funny man invited them, personally.
When you’ve done your shows, don’t just say “thank you” and walk off. Always hang about and talk with one or two kids. This is important for two reasons. It gives the adults a chance to ask for a card, contact details etc (you’d be surprised at how many birthday parties I get via country shows). But more importantly, it gives kids and adults a chance to say how much they enjoyed the show and that’s something you can use to your advantage. When they’ve finished complimenting your show, don’t just say “thank you”. Instead be brazen. say something like “thank you, but if you really mean it, when you leave, if anyone asks what your favorite bit was, tell them it was me”. Because of my persona, I can make a joke out of this. It doesn’t matter if you sound like you mean it or not. What matters is putting that thought into their head. OK, so normally most people won’t say anything when they leave, but you’ve put a seed of thought into their heads. One that you’ll use at the end of the day. Most importantly of all, remember their faces, as they are going to make you look amazing.
The shows over, the public have had a good day and you’re worn out from a hard days work. There’s just one last thing to do to help ensure that repeat booking. You’ve got to be down by the gate as the people leave, ready to do the good byes. The goodbyes are probably even more important than the hallos, as it’s going to really stick in the people’s minds. I always take two sets of routines with me for the good byes. One set is quick stuff for people who don’t want to stop, the other set involves slightly longer routines for those who aren’t in a hurry to get home.
I never do the goodbyes in a static position as this makes me look too predatory. Like one of those charity chuggers you get in the high street. Yes I’m around the exit area, but moving around as I perform for the exiting public.
What ever routine I’m performing I always ask the person I’m doing it for if they had a good time and what their favorite bit was. this is valuable information for the client that booked you, and if you want a repeat booking then you need to be valuable to him in every way possible.
The Second Sneaky Bit;
Remember how you told that child to tell the gate crew how wonderful your show was? Remember how I
told you to remember their faces. Well now you’ve noticed them walking towards you on the way out. As you’re moving around interacting with the public, so you’re going to move closer to the gate crew. When you do your goodbyes for that child, you’re going to ask him what his favorite bit was. You’ve already planted the answer in his mind but the gate crew don’t know this. All they know is that every time they have heard you ask the question, everyone’s given the same answer. YOU!
If it’s a good event, then it stands to reason that it’s been put on by a good events organiser. Good event organisers alway have a crew debrief after a show. They will always ask for and listen to all the crews feedback.
If you’ve done your job right. Then the gate crew have seen you working the queue before the event even opens. They’ve noticed how you took the time to check what’s on and used this to entice people in. They’ve not only seen you working the public as they leave, but also heard lots and lots of public feedback, and it’s all been about you. Add to this the fact that your first show was bigger and louder than any of the others. All this makes you not just valuable, but invaluable to the event. and that folks, equals a repeat bookings. Some of which have lasted me nearly a quarter of a century.
From the 5th of August until the 15th of August we’ll be away at one of Europe’s premier medieval festivals. “The Loxwood Joust“. This is a totally amazing concoction of everything medieval and I do mean everything. There’s jousting, living history, a gruesome executioner, knights and soldiers competing in battles and lots more. Including authentic witches (you’ll find them in the woods), enchanting music from the “Medieval Baebes” and of cause, our “Total Immersion” show, staring myself, Jester Dragonfly and the adorable Stormageddon.
Held every year at The Loxwood Meadow, WEST SUSSEX, RH14 0AL, this event has proved so popular with the public that it now happens for not just one, but two weekends! The 6th, 7th, 13 and 14th of August. If you only make it to one medieval event this year, make it this one. You really won’t be disappointed. It truly is awesome and a big point of pride that every year they choose us to be the jesters.
For a look at what’s in store, check out this video of last years event