Four Ways To Botch An Entertainer’s Introduction

The best introduction I ever received was at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California. The comedian who gave it was a big fan of my work and his enthusiasm was hilariously over-the-top yet unmistakably authentic: “Your next performer is unbelievable! How can I describe what he does? There’s no word for it! You just have to see it! You’ve never seen anything like it! I just have to bring him out so you can see for yourself! Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to David Deeble!”

He had the audience laughing during the introduction in such a way that suggested they were thinking one thing: I have to see who he’s talking about.

While no entertainer should expect to be introduced each time with such unbridled enthusiasm, this anecdote does provide some clues ensure that you don’t inadvertently place the evening’s entertainment behind the 8 ball before it’s even begun.

Below are a two of the best ways for emcees, event planners and entertainers to make an entertainer’s introduction an energy-depleting momentum-killer.



Simple, straightforward introductions are for celebrities whose accomplishments are well-known, not for you! I like to think of my introduction as indistinguishable from my resumé: “Tell them I’ve performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing and America’s Got Talent – in that order. Then say I appear regularly at the Magic Castle in Hollywood – don’t forget the in Hollywood part – and that I’ve opened up for Ray Romano and Kevin James. Then tell them I specialize in performing at private functions and corporate events. Then tell them my website – – that’s two d’s, understand? – and conclude with ‘Please welcome the comedy of David Deeble!’ But with feeling, okay?”



This is a corollary of the above. Sure, memorizing a lengthy, in-depth bio and relating it to the audience with unmistakeable zeal is difficult, but don’t forget your place. After all, you’re dealing with an entertainer and showing deference should be your highest priority. Whatever you do, suppress the courage and commonsense to say “I want to give you the best introduction possible. I suggest we shorten this introduction and make up for the missing credits by bringing you onstage with lots of energy and enthusiasm”.


By all means, take the wind out of the show’s sails! Performers tend to rise to the occasion when their name is followed by applause, so why not begin by stating the name of the entertainer followed seamlessly by the rest of the introduction? Better yet, conclude the introduction by omitting the performer’s name and let the introduction just kind of trail off. Here’s how you would put me behind the 8 ball: “David Deeble is a comedy juggler. Let’s give him nice welcome.


If you are a personal fan the work of the entertainer you are introducing, why on earth would you want to let the audience in on it? All it does is give the entertainer one of the best imprimaturs there is: a testimonial. Your introduction should say, in effect: “I don’t know who this gal is and the fact that I’m introducing her does not imply an endorsement on my part. I have been tasked with introducing her to you and that is all. Anyway, here she is.”

An introduction can set the stage for a fantastic evening of entertainment or leave the audience wondering if now would be a good time to sneak in a smoke. If you have any thoughts on what makes or breaks an entertainer’s introduction, leave your comments below.


How To Ruin Your Event


Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 11.21.34 AMThere’s lots of ways to ruin an event. Let’s talk about ruining the entertainment portion, especially if you have gone with comedy.

With any type of live entertainment there is a relationship between the audience and the performer. And nowhere is this more pronounced than with comedy entertainment which, when performed at the highest level, is much more like a dialogue than a monologue. The audience might be able to chat amongst themselves and still enjoy a rock band, but not so with, say stand-up: to be successful the craft requires an audience that is totally engaged.

A professional, experienced and talented comedian knows when an audience isn’t with her and will prattle, prod and engage an audience until she knows they are focused and only then will he get to the heart of her act and the business of making them laugh.

But how, you may ask, can I make a comedy entertainer’s job as difficult as possible?

Let’s say you’re a professional event planner or someone who is otherwise responsible for planning an event for your company. You’ve done your homework and found an comedian who is accomplished, a pleasure to work with and perfectly suits your needs. Now the question is, what can you do to thwart this his remarkable talents and years of experience and make everyone in attendance uncomfortable at the same time?

Here are a few simple things you can do to ensure that the delicate, essential bond between an audience and a comedian is tenuous at best or, better yet, never established in the first place.

Schedule The Entertainer Immediately After A Break

The room is pumped. The most-popular, hardest-working guy or gal in the company has just received his well-deserved award from the CEO and the energy in the room is at its peak. Whatever you do, don’t harness the audience’s energy by immediately introducing to the stage the entertainer you’ve budgeted a sizable sum to procure. Instead, have the CEO, emcee or whoever has the floor to announce a break “of about 15 minutes”. That should be enough time for the room to deflate, the energy vanish and allow the stragglers to head back into the room and settle into their seats while chatting with their fellow fellow employees about golf plans for the following weekend.

Seat The Audience At Round Banquet Tables

For the love of God, you’re not going to ensure that all the seats in the audience are facing the stage, are you? No, no, no. When an entertainer walks on stage you want roughly half the audience facing the back of the room. That way more people will be able to tell when the line for the open bar is down to only a few people. You might also consider leaving the doors in the back of the room open, allowing those seated with their backs to the stage to “people watch” the smokers, stragglers and maybe even catch a glimpse of that woman from the coat check with the ineffable aura about her. Ideally, you want these people who face the back of the room to be completely unaware of what is going on on the stage. Think muzak.

Serve Food During The Show

When a world-class comedy entertainer and a mediocre salad go head to head, the salad wins every time. Anything requiring utensils is best – after all, people are capable of enjoying a comedian with finger food like popcorn just as they are capable of enjoying a movie. Of course, it never hurts to have hard-working servers bustling from table to table pouring water, grinding pepper and sending that steak back to the kitchen until it’s done right.

Arrange For A Large, Empty Space Between The Stage And The Front Row

Nothing is more conducive to an attentive, engaged audience like seating them as close to the stage as possible. There’s an intimacy to this seating arrangement that mimics the openness and rapport of an private conversation. This is why you want a large empty space surrounding the stage. Many venues place a small stage against the wall of a large banquet hall and surround it with a large, empty dance floor: this is the ideal way to ensure your money and reputation go to waste. Nothing sends the the audience the signal “You have nothing to do with this performance” quite like seating everyone no less than a metric mile of the edge of the stage. This way audience members can chat with each other throughout the show while feeling – wrongly – that it has no impact on the overall performance.

The above are just a few basic, feng-shui examples of how to ruin the entertainment portion of your event. The truth is, there are almost as many ways to ruin it as there are second-rate entertainers to ruin it for you.

Do you know other ways to ensure that entertaining at your event is as uphill a battle as possible?


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When you reach the end zone, try to act as if you’ve been there before.

   Christ, look at me. Why didn’t I take the advice of virtuallly every football coach in the country? You’d think that as an entertainer with decades of experience I’d have the presence of mind to flash my friendily-posing-for-a-picture-with-an-audience-member grin, not the I-cannot-believe-I-just-did-The-Tonight-Show smile.

It doesn’t help matters that I look small enough to be Jay’s puppet in a ventriloquist act. Let’s talk turkey – I’m a little man. Not short – little. I could be a jockey or one of those guys who assembles the sailboat inside the little bottle. I mean, look at the two of us: I could fit inside him, for crying out loud. (That’s not an offer, Jay). There’s not much I can do about the fact that I could easily represent the lollipop guild but would it have killed me to put on some kind of bulky jacket or something for the photo?

And why is Jay pointing at me? Am I supposed to be pointing too? And at who? That would have been nice – both of us pointing at me.

The producer, Steve Ridgeway, didn’t wait for me to ask what I should wear. “We’d like you to dress somewhere between church clothes and beach clothes. “You got it”, I said. I would have preferred my usual jacket and tie but when the producer tells you to dress between church and the beach, you dress between church and the beach.

On the set Jay asked me if I was married and I said “No” – true enough at the time. “Maybe it’s the 1950’s shirt” he said. I remember thinking “Not a good time and place to have a glass jaw”. The next time I’m asked on national tv if I”m married I’ll say “Yes – to a woman”. True enough at this time.

Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was originally scheduled to appear on the same episode but she had to reschedule in order to write some law which had to be passed so that we could read it or something. Actor William H. Macy took her place in the downstairs dressing room while John Mellencamp and I took the upstairs dressing rooms. Mellencamp looked like a real Marlboro Man, regularly stepping outside the studio to light up next to Jay’s parking space. This guy doesn’t have wrinkles in his face – he has crevices.

Anyway, Mellencamp’s dressing room was directly across from mine and with his door always open, I could plainly tell that his dressing room was identical to mine: nothing fancy, actually kind of plain, but perfectly serviceable. My dressing room had a nice fruit spread and a shower, although it appeared I wasn’t expected to use it: there were no towels. There was, however, a shriveled-up dirty bar of soap on the shower’s soap tray which I imagined was left over by George Gobel or somebody. Maybe I should have kept it as a souvenir. Instead I received some nice pictures of me and Jay, a not-terribly-fancy “Tonight Show” watch, a non-union paycheck for $400.

And the picture.