Actor Comedian Bill Kirchenbauer Guest Blog!

  • As a nationally known celebrity comedian with 35 years experience I am occasionally asked to perform “gratis” (FREE) for some good cause, foundation, charity, benefit, fund raiser etc. If you are one of these people in charge of procuring entertainment for this kind of a function let me school ya on how to go about this successfully.

    First of all let me tell you that no matter when or for what great cause you are having this event for there are at anytime of year hundreds of other groups around the country and maybe even your area planning the same type of function on the SAME day as you. So whether you like it or not you have competition. So you have to do things that would make the “celebrity” want to do your event rather then the others. Having a known name and face appearing and performing at your event will certainly draw more of a crowd than say having the town amateur magician or the local girls choir from the high school performing songs from broadway.

    I have been approached by people asking me to perform at their event with absolutely no mention of remuneration in any way. They do not take into consideration that I HAVE TO GET THERE usually by flying, I have to pay to park my car at the airport and I have to get to and from the airport at their location and yes….I will need somewhere to sleep plus expenses like food and other incidentals. So not only do they want me to give them a free show…but they want me to my spend money to do it. Also when a performer commits to booking a date they will have to turn down any other offers that may come in for that date. That means doing your date can actually cost them loss of income.

    The bottom line is….That sometimes you have to spend money to make money. People are not aware that even on national telethons major performers are PAID to make that appearance. Yes it’s true. They do not just do that because they are compassionate people.

    Now don’t get me wrong I have done many many free appearances for good cause . Actors and others for Animals, Hospital benefits. cancer fund raisers etc. I could spend my whole career doing free shows all over the country …and live in a cardboard box because I can’t pay my mortgage. I choose not to do that.

    So be prepared to spend SOME money to get the performer of your choice. Medium sized nationally know acts, meaning acts that have had Tonight Show, Letterman, or HBO, SHOWTIME exposure normally get any where from $3500-$7500 plus expenses or more to do a corporate show. So offer some one an “Honorarium” of say $2000-$2500 plus expenses and you will be assured of a professional show with a happy performer while you still get A GREAT DEAL. Perhaps you can get a local sponsor to foot the bill in exchange for publicity. But I can most definitely tell you that you will have a more high profile, professional event than the people hiring the local Balloon clown.

    As far as how to treat the “celebrity” while he or she is in town to do your show. I have always told people I want to be treated like their grandmother has come to visit. Pick me up at the airport in a nice car. It doesn’t have to be a limo. But don’t pick me up in beat up 1992 Ford Fiesta with golf clubs in the trunk so that there is no room for my bags. Keep them at a “nice” hotel/motel . Doesn’t have to be the Four Seasons but not the motel that rents rooms by the hour either. I have always been happy with something like Hampton Inn quality accommodations. Offer to take them out to a nice dinner. Have some drinks and snacks backstage for the performer and provide a quiet place for them to prepare for the show. It’s always a great idea to keep them at a hotel where you will be putting on the event to avoid logistical problems. If you do this correctly the word will get around that your event is a pleasant experience and you will assure yourself a good choice of another performer next year.

    If you follow my suggestions you will be assured of having a successful event that will stand out and attract many more attendees that translates into more money for your worthy cause. If not…..then good luck with that. I’m sure the local Balloon clown is available.

    Bill Kirchenbauer

    Everyone knows Bill Kirchenbauer; if not from his stand-up around the country, then his numerous TV & Movie appearances, including his own TV show, “Just the Ten of Us”