Ask the Pro with Bob Abdou – Christmas Party Gig

ventriloquist central ask the pro with bob abdou

Here’s Bob Abdou with another great topic since the holiday season is right around the corner.

Christmas Party gig

I just got asked to entertain at a corporate Christmas party for pay. I’ve never done an adult, corporate show before. What are your thoughts? – A ventriloquist from Texas

I was actually asked this question last year but I wanted to post it in this blog now because holiday shows are right around the corner. First is my response from a year ago. Below that is a new reply about my first reply.

My First Reply

Wow, tough question. But I’m going to tell you straight up. Don’t do the gig. Especially for pay. If you do it and you’re not ready for it, you could do emotional damage to yourself and professional damage to other vents.

Sorry, that is my first thought.

Think of it this way, you would not want surgery from a student just out of medical school, would you? Same thing, just a different profession.

I think you should kindly pass on the gig and leave it at that, no explanation necessary.

But if you do take the gig, I only wish you well.


My Reply to My Reply

Wow, that sounds harsh.

Do I still agree with my answer? Yes. But I would be less blunt in my response.

I did apologize to this vent for answering so directly.

Now let me explain my first reply but in a kinder way:

The gig in question was a full corporate paid adult Christmas party. The vent had never done an adult corporate gig, for free or otherwise. This was new territory for him. Could he succeed? Maybe. But this gig was completely new territory for him and might have been out of his league. Performing in unknown territory can be scary in itself. Getting paid for the gig can make what is scary absolutely nerve racking. Failure in these situations can break the spirit of the performer very quickly. Trust me I know all too well.

I gave this vent my answer because I wanted to save him some of the pain and agony I experienced. Early in my career, I took gigs that were out of my league and I failed more times than I succeeded. I only wished I had foresight in seeing the struggles and inexperience instead of seeing dollar signs.

With 21 years now of experience, I only take gigs that I succeed in. Let’s face it, we all want to do as many gigs as possible. Some vents never say “no” to any show show they’re offered. That could be a dangerous thing. “No” is now in my vocabulary. The pay doesn’t matter.

As I look back, I often wondered why some pros would pass on certain gigs. I know now why: It was not their crowd. To succeed, you have to have a nice fit. Trying to force a square peg in a round hole can be done; but you have to force it which wastes energy and can cause damage – to you and to other performers. If a client pays for a vent who’s not ready or able and has a bad experience, they are likely to steer clear of paying other vents in the future.

We need to be selective to succeed. There are many different audiences to choose from. If we try to please all of them, we end up pleasing none of them. We need to know who and what we’re able to perform for and what shows we can succeed at and focus on that.

One of my mottos is: “What I do, I do really well – and what I don’t do well, I just don’t do.”

If I’m going to venture out into new territory, my first try at it wouldn’t be at a paying corporate gig.

How do you know if you’re ready to get a pay check from an adult corporate gig?

Here is a check list:

* Can I keep the audience’s attention during the whole show?
* Do I have enough funny material for the time they are paying for?
* Is what I do designed for the audience they want to entertain?
* Can I provide testimonials or references from past experiences?
* Do my props (dummies, puppets, tables) look professional and clean?
* Is my material appropriate for the age of the audience?
* Am I worth the price they’re offering?

If you have any doubt about the above check list, maybe the job isn’t for you.

To be clear, I only wish the best for all my peers. Why? Because when you perform like a true pro, I get work! And when I perform like a true pro, you get work!

Bob Abdou/Mr.Puppet

P.S. : The vent who asked the question later told me that he did pass on the gig and then he found out the client had very little money to pay for entertainment anyway. It all turned out for the best, no damage done!

Once again Bob, great advice.



Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to:

Copyright 2011 by Dan Willinger

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