A lot of things can go wrong with live entertainment. Nobody wants an unfunny comedian, a magician whose tricks go wrong, or a motivational speaker who puts the audience to sleep!
If your guests are ignoring the on-stage entertainment to chat with their co-workers, then you don’t have entertainment… you have background noise.
The most important entertainment goal for any event planner should be to get the audience engaged and interested. So how do we do that?
I’ve performed at hundreds and hundreds of events over the last 17 years, and I believe that corporate entertainment is at its best when it’s customized to your specific audience. Customized shows are integral to creating a memorable, meaningful evening of entertainment.
But before we get into WHY customization matters, let’s first break down exactly WHAT I mean by “customization.”
What IS Show Customization?
Simply put, show customization is an intentional change made to ANY performance (comedy, magic, emcee, music, etc.) to make it a better fit for the audience, venue, schedule, and goals of the event planner. This means that no two shows are alike, because no two companies are alike.
As a successful corporate magician, I take my client’s needs into consideration, so that I can amplify their messaging, highlight their company values, and most importantly, maximize the audience enjoyment.
Types of Customization
There are three types of customization. Let’s rank them from easiest to most complex:
- Superficial Customization – You know when the famous rock band says “Good evening Chicago!” ONE TIME during their set? That’s superficial customization. It’s barely more than name-dropping, and it makes NO impact at all.
- Scripting Customization – The messaging of the performance is customized to fit the event theme, venue, and audience, but the core performance pieces are unchanged.
- Material Customization – A fully-custom performance, with many brand-new performance pieces created specifically for the event. Costs may include custom prop fabrication, rehearsal time, etc.
Of the three types of show customization, scripting customization is usually my recommendation. This way, my clients get a rock-solid show that has been performed hundreds of times, while also enjoying a customized experience that fits their unique event. That being said, I do occasionally create custom props featuring the company name, or even a custom grand finale. But I still prefer that most of my set list is road-tested and well-rehearsed.
Why Show Customization Matters
Customized Shows are More Engaging
Audiences are impressed and interested when the show is about them. When they see an emcee, comedian or mentalist promoting their company values, highlighting their new product or service, or joking about their competitors, they lean in and take notice!
Customized Shows are More Memorable
Audiences can tell when a performer is “phoning it in.” They can tell when the performer is going through the motions. Show customization tells everyone that what they’re seeing is designed FOR THEM, and nobody else. That makes it INSTANTLY more interesting for everyone in the audience.
Customized Shows Adapt to Language Barriers
A few years ago I was hired by an event planner to entertain 500 executives at Universal Studios. The planner wasn’t able to give me many details on the event, and I was surprised to discover when I arrived that all the executives were from mainland China, and couldn’t speak a word of English!
I immediately switched from performing mentalism (which requires speaking) to performing sleight-of-hand magic. I focused on pure, visual magic that didn’t require any speaking whatsoever. Although the executives couldn’t tell me in words that they were happy, the smiles on their faces told me everything I needed to know. It also helped that the event planner heard rave reviews!
Customized Shows Can Reinforce Event Messaging
What is the purpose of your event? Are you celebrating your team’s recent accomplishments, or are you trying to improve morale after a round of layoffs? There’s nothing wrong with light entertainment that simply passes the time. But wouldn’t it be better to get audiences laughing and clapping together, while driving home your important event message?
Customized Shows Can Adapt to Any Schedule
What happens if your schedule is running late, and you need to cut the main entertainment from 45 minutes to 20 minutes? What happens if you need to extend it to one hour?
This is never an ideal situation, but it happens all the time! An experienced professional should be able to customize their show ON THE FLY to run longer or shorter.
Customized Shows Can Add Unique Humor
One of the easiest ways to customize a performance is to add industry-specific jokes. If I’m performing for Pepsi, you can BET I’m going to make jokes about Coke.
Another type of humor is office humor… but you have to be careful here. It’s important that any jokes about specific departments never make fun of a specific person. You NEVER want to pick on anyone.
As a quick aside: I’ve occasionally been asked to “roast” people, and I always refuse. I’m not a comedian, I’m a corporate magician. If you want to make jokes about the boss, please hire a professional comedian who knows how to roast people without hurting their feelings. And be prepared for possible fallout if the boss isn’t as happy as you thought they’d be. :-/
Why Don’t More Entertainers and Emcees Customize Their Performances?
Simply put… show customization is a LOT of extra work!
Most performers prefer a cookie-cutter approach that allows them to do the same act again and again. But I think the amazing results of show customization speak for themselves. Simply put: the extra work is worth it!
If you’d like to go beyond basic entertainment, and truly connect with your employees, customers and clients in a fun, memorable way… please reach out. I’d love to help make your next event a magical success!