Stand outside a concert hall, a club, a coffee house, and ask people why they are there and what they hope happens that evening. One of the most common things you’ll hear is “I want to have fun tonight.”
So do you have fun in your show? Pay attention to what I’m asking – I’m not asking if you have fun at your show. I’m asking if you have fun in your show. In other words, have you got a place in your show where your audience can experience some good old spirit-lifting, smile-producing, belly-laughing fun?
Cyndi Lauper sang it years ago: “When the working day is done… girls just want to have fun!” Well, it’s not just girls. Your whole audience is looking for an engaging good time, and that includes a Fun Moment.
How do you create a Fun Moment? Before I get into “how,” I want to make sure we’ve gotten past the emotional hang-ups some of you might have with this.
If you are thinking, “I don’t want to do anything that is cheesy or goofy,” then join the club. Nobody wants to do that.
But look at it this way: if you were opening a restaurant and I were a person who’d helped over 500 restaurants be successful… and I told you I polled people and found out the biggest request from restaurant diners was to have chicken on the menu. So, my first advice is naturally, “Be sure and have chicken on the menu.” I don’t tell you how to cook it. I let you be creative. But the key word is chicken.
The same principle holds true when we are talking about a show. If most of the people coming want to have fun, don’t you think you should have fun for them in your show?
OK, now – how to do that. You’ll need to crack open a song and find a way. One of the most common Fun Moments is when an artist involves the audience in a song. Audience participation is probably something you’ve seen done (well and not-so-well!). You’ll want to do it well. Whether you do a simple “put your hands in the air with me,” a “say this when I say that,” or a more involved “sing this line” call & response – you need to make your instructions clear, lead your audience verbally, and rehearse it, rehearse it, rehearse it!
Another option is using your comedic talent (if that’s one of your strengths). I saw a singer/songwriter years ago who, in the middle of his set, pulled out two stools, set a tape recorder on one and sat on the other. On the tape were background vocals his ex-wife had done on one of his recordings. This artist, with his dry sense of humor, pulled out his guitar and started singing along with it. After a short amount of time, he stopped it and said, “You missed a part. No wonder we got a divorce.” Then he did a 15-minute section of his concert, interacting with his ex-wife’s voice. It was clever, creative, and absolutely hilarious.
Or, you might try bringing someone up on the stage for a Fun Moment. But please don’t try this unless you know exactly how to do it! Ask one of us to help you, or read that section in my book if you are unsure of how to do it effectively.
Finally, if you are totally unsure of how to develop a Fun Moment for your show, you have a couple of choices. You can experiment a little by watching other artists who are good at it and then “copying” their concepts (sort of like you used to do when you were learning to play your instrument and copied other great artists) – or you can have my associates work personally with you via Skype, Backstage, or 1-on-1 in a rehearsal room.
But whatever you do, remember that the people in your audience “just want to have fun!”
Photo courtesy Pam Samson