"Success in radio required politeness, preparation, and professionalism." -- Ben Cooper
Ben Cooper was one of the special guest stars appearing at the 2011 Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound Showcase. Other stars at the convention made similar statements. It is true of any form of entertainment.
Politeness allows you to interact with others more easily. Politeness demonstrates that you are interested in the other person and their feelings. Rudeness demonstrates that you are interested only in yourself. Effective entertainment is above anything else an interaction with others. You start off by interacting with those who book a performance and organize an event. Then you interact with others involved in putting on the event. Finally you interact with those in your audience. Politeness is important in each step of the way no matter if the event is a solo birthday party, a large variety show, or a huge festival.
Preparation is making sure you have done everything possible to insure success. It can be visiting a theater in advance so you know the conditions you will be performing in. For example, planning to spin a plate on a ten-foot pole will not work if your performance space has an eight-foot ceiling. Preparation is practicing your skills so you are ready to give your best performance. Preparation is continuing your education so you are increasing your abilities. Preparation is keeping yourself in mental and physical shape so you can do what is required.
Professionalism is being able to do the best performance under any conditions. It includes knowing how to adjust what you do when conditions are less than ideal to give the best possible performance. It means not letting a mistake interfere with the rest of your performance. It means being sensitive to your audience and making necessary adjustments during your performance. It means being aware of the needs of your client and doing everything you can to meet them. For example, I was performing at a festival that wasn't able to open their gates because of a broken water line, so I went out front and entertained people waiting in line until they were allowed to enter.
Professionalism means learning the language of show business so when somebody tells you to move stage right you understand what they mean. It means being able to communicate your needs to others by filling out a tech sheet or cue cards.
Professionalism means being dependable by arriving early. It means getting a contact phone number to call in case something delays your arrival.
Professionalism means not touching another entertainer's props without permission. It means when you are in a variety show you preset your props so other entertainers can easily enter and exit the stage. It means being ready to go on at least one act before you're scheduled in case something happens and you need to enter. (More than once an emcee has made a mistake and skipped an act.) It means sticking to your assigned time frame. It means telling the act following you how your act ends so they know when to be ready to begin their act. It means clearing your props out of the way as soon as possible following your act. It means assisting other acts backstage so they can also do their best possible performance. It is remembering that the success of the show overall is most important of all.
How can you learn professionalism? One way is to observe other entertainers. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with some great entertainers and I have learned a lot from their example. Another way is to attend conferences and workshops like the upcoming California Clown Campin'. You will see some great entertainers there, like Randy Munson, who is known for his professionalism. A third way is to work at a theater. The best way to learn is by being on a technical crew like a stage hand. That helps you learn the technical side of entertainment and observe the performers in action. Community theater groups are often open to people becoming involved in the technical portions of their productions.
Are you polite? Are you prepared? Are you professional?