Putting foreplay before your play.

was fortune enough to be featured on The Late Show with David Letterman yesterday (you can see the clip here), and while I waited for the show to begin, something special happened.

Somebody put me in the mood.

That’s right, readers, dim the lights, put on the Manilow, and cue the bow chicka wow wow.

Ok, ok, so maybe that somebody was Eddie Brill, a 50ish catskilly comedian with a little bit more facial hair than I would normally be attracted to, but still, Eddie is one smooooooth operator.

See, Eddie is the warm-up comedian for Dave’s live studio audience.  He steps out twenty minutes before taping and tells a few jokes to get us good and teased up for the fun we’re about to have.  And then, he throws it to a video starring Alec Baldwin that featured instructions like, “No cell phones, no yelling,” (sound familiar) . . . and, you guessed it, that video is damn funny on its own.

Oh, and my favorite part of the vid? They literally ask for laughs.  Yep, they say, “During the show, we want you to laugh, so laugh hard and laugh often.”

And since they do it so creatively, you want to give them what they want (especially since you didn’t pay for your ticket, and also because laughing gets the blood flowing and you could store a corpse in that Letterman theater it’s so cold).

My Letterman experience reminded me how important it is to warm up your audience before you take them on your journey (which is going to be longer than one hour, and a lot more expensive).  Now, you can’t ask for laughs, you can’t bring out a warm up comedian (well, 3 Guys Naked From The Waist Down could), and having Paul Shaffer and his band play before your production of Hedda Gabbler might not make much sense . . . but there are subtler ways to Eddie Brill your crowd . . . you just have to find them.

Is food and drink available?  Can your audience bring it to their seat?  How are they greeted by the ushers?  What are the ushers wearing?  Is there pre-show music?  Do you have wifi?  What’s in your program besides the usual stuff?  Anything fun?  What does your lobby look like?  Do you have video playing?  Are there characters from the play/musical milling about?

All of this, if appropriate to your show, can help create for a better experience during your show, which creates for better word of mouth after your show.

If you don’t . . . well, you know what happens when you just go for it.  It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and no one really gets any pleasure out of it.

So add some foreplay to your play.  It may take a bit more time, and a bit more effort, but the results could be mindblowing.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.