A New Fan In New Hampshire

Saturday August 25th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   One aspect of being an entertainer that’s rarely discussed is how a performer should handle fan interaction. This is something everyone who makes a living on stage will have to deal with at one time or another and probably a lot more than that – but I’ve seen it mangled time and time again.

I’ve always chosen to look at approaching fans as customers, and treat them accordingly. I was the one who chose to be an entertainer, and I knew going in that this was part of the game. It’s an extension of the stage, and if someone makes an effort to approach me I won’t chase them away.

I would have to say from my experience probably 90% or higher of people who make an effort to come up to me after a show or anywhere else have something to say that they at least intended to be positive when it left their tongue. It doesn’t always come off that way, but I have thick skin.

A lot of times someone will say something like “I didn’t think you were going to be that funny when you first got up there” or something similar. They don’t mean anything bad when they say it, and depending on the situation I’ll try to play off whatever they say and make a joke out of it.

It’s very easy to make or lose a fan for life in a one on one situation, and I’ve seen quite a few performers really blow it. They come off extremely cocky, or they won’t pose for a quick picture or sign an autograph. I’m sorry, but that goes with the territory. I think it should be an automatic.

Granted, there is that 5-10% who are a tad unstable but I’ve learned over time they’re not at all difficult to deal with if they’re just acknowledged as being alive. Asking them a simple question like their name or where they’re from usually makes them feel important, and they mellow out.

There are the scary stalker/felon types, but fortunately I’ve never reached the level of having to be taken back to my hotel via police escort. I’m sure that’s a special kind of scary, but that’s not the kind of fame I’m talking about. I’m talking about your regular old professional entertainer of all genres and all levels below Michael Jackson or Elvis level fame. That’s a whole other issue.

Another issue is the actual situation when the fan approaches. If it’s after a show, that’s not out of line in my opinion. In a restaurant, that’s where I’ve seen people flip out. Someone will go up to an entertainer and ask for an autograph and the performer will shoot back something nasty and then not do it. I think this is a huge mistake. How much effort is required to sign an autograph?

I bring this up because today I received a very nice email from a fan in New Hampshire who’d heard a clip of me on Sirius/XM radio and wanted to tell me he thought I was hilarious. He made the effort to look me up on the internet and send me an email. The least I could do was thank him for his time, but I always want to do more than the least I can do. That extra mile is so important.

I got his address and sent him a CD as my gift. I personalized a signature to him, and told him I would gladly get him tickets should I play New Hampshire any time soon. And if I do, I sure will follow up on my promise. I might not be world famous yet, but I try to collect fans one at a time.


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