"May you live as long as you want." -- Chic Johnson
"And may you laugh as long as you live," - Ole Olsen
That is how Olsen and Johnson concluded each of their performances. (They teamed in 1921 and performed together of 47 years. They began in vaudeville, and then made the transition to Broadway with their tremendous comedy hit titled "Hellzapoppin".) Their ending is an example of a Tag Line. That is a line used to close an act. It serves as a signature.
A Tag Line can be philosophical. After many of my clown lectures I say, "Being a clown is like a balloon. It doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, it is what is on the inside that makes you go up."
A Tag Line can be humorous. I usually conclude my last lecture at an educational event by saying, "It has been said everybody brings a little happiness into your life... Some when they enter the room and others when they leave. (Pause for laughter.) Thank you for the happiness you have brought into my life this weekend."
It doesn't have to be profound. The Tag Line for Jack Benny's television series was "good night folks. I'll see you again real soon." Jack didn't actually see his audience sitting at home, but the line created the impression that they were friends he would visit.
It can be intriguing like Jimmy Durante ending his performances by saying, "Good night Mrs. Calabash. Where ever you are?" (He never revealed who she was.)
It can be a song like Carol Burnett singing, "I'm so glad we had this time together..." Perhaps the most famous closing song of all was "M-I-C- See you real soon. K-E-Y Why? Because we like you. M-O-U-S-E..."
Sometimes a Tag Line is extended into a short speech, which then is known as a Curtain Speech. Red Skelton's curtain speech was "Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for putting up with my nonsense. I sincerely hope I haven't said or done anything to offend anyone. If I have, I didn't mean it. I hope you have had as much fun as I have had. It is a lot of fun to try to make people laugh. Regardless of what your heartache might be, while laughing for a few seconds you have forgotten about it. God bless and good night."
Victor Borge is another entertainer who used a Curtain Speech. He would sit down at the piano and play quietly while speaking to the audience. The way he said it was just as important as what he said. His speech combined humor and heartfelt philosophy. Every video compilation of his performances includes his speech so you can watch him deliver it. You may be able to find his videos at your local library. His programs are still shown frequently in the United States on PBS stations, especially during their pledge drives. You can purchase some of his videos directly from the PBS on line store.
Victor Borge Videos
You can use a Tag Line even if you don't speak during your act. Kenny Ahern performs his show silently, and then at the end speaks directly to the audience for the first time. It is a very effective ending for him.
Don't copy a Tag Line used by another entertainer. First, it is unethical, and in certain cases illegal, to do that. Second, somebody will eventually recognize what you have done undercutting your credibility. Third, that is the other entertainer's signature. You want to find your own signature that uniquely identifies you. An ideal Tag Line is an expression of your personality.
Have you considered using a Tag Line? What do you want the audience to remember about you? Do you want their lasting image to be funny, philosophical, or friendly? How can you express that? Try out a potential Tag Line several times. How do you feel delivering it? How does the audience respond? Does it accomplish what you want? If not, try something else until you find what clicks for you and your audience.