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Brett McCarronHow's Your Banter?
Making your act more fun
for you and your audience

<< Continued from Page 1

Here are some banter topic ideas and sources to get you started:

Introduce the band members
A quick mention of the person's name, where they're from, and (time permitting) something unusual about that person's background helps your audience get to know you. For extra fun, mention some fake band names that the person was supposedly in, courtesy of our online random band name generator.

Funny band stories
Have some amusing stories from the road? Or on the way to the gig? No? Then try taking a joke and changing the main character to yourself or a band member. If you want a story to be relevant, tie it in with a song on your setlist to mke a great segue. One source for great comic material is Slyib's Joke Vault, which has 100s of jokes sorted by category, including musician jokes.

Some cool stuff happened today
People enjoy hearing interesting factoids. Even more so if you can tie it in with something about your band, a band member, an instrument, or a song in your set list. Was something invented on this day in history? Was a famous performer born or did they die on this date? Does the band have a song by this artist in their set list? Did you write a song based on something that happened on this date?

Use the Blamepro Almanac to find thousands of cool factoids and famous people. Print out today's listing, use a highlighter pen to quickly find an entry or two, and take the page to the gig so you can refer to it if needed.

You're a beautiful audience
Taking a moment to thank the audience always goes over well. Especially if you call out one or two of the most attractive ones and perhaps ask where they're from. Have some band swag, such as bumper stickers, buttons, CDs, or photos that you can give them? Even better.

Just be sure not to insult anyone in the audience. They didn't come to the show to get their feelings hurt. But if you want to good-naturedly pick on a member of the band, then that's okay. Especially if you've practiced something beforehand.

Be sure to tip your bartender
Here are a few short and sweet things you can say to get the wait staff on your good side:

  • "Don't forget to tip your bartender and your wait person. They're working for a living, just like we are. We're the XYZ Band."

  • "If you had fun tonight, be sure to tip your bartender or your waitperson. Take care of them and they'll be sure to take care of you."

  • "Tip Ping (tipping ... get it?) is not a city in China. It's how your bartender and your waitperson make their living. I'd consider it a personal favor if you make sure to take care of them tonight. And now we're going to take care of the ladies with a chance to shake your bootie to this tune by ... "

Taking care of business
Mention your band's merchandise table, where you're hopefully selling T-shirts, CDs, bumper stickers, and other swag. Also feel free to list the duration of your stay at the particular venue: "We'll be here all week!" Mention your band's website. Do you have a mailing list? Ensure that the audience doesn't forget about it by inviting them to write their email address on a clipboard that you have by the sound engineer's table (with another one at the merchandise table).

I consider it bad form to mention an upcoming gig at a competitor's venue during a performance. Instead, interested customers can find out for themselves by visiting the calendar at your band's website.

Be yourself
It's important to stay in character. If you're in a death metal band, that means that funny banter probably isn't going to work for you. In that case, you may find something serious about an event or a death that happened on this day in history. Or use the downtime as the introduction to the next song: how and why it was written, what it mans to the band, etc. Or describe a cause that the band supports like preventing teen suicide, rock the vote, etc.

Try out your ideas during rehearsals
Rehearsals are a great way to not only practice your musical technique, they are the perfect opportunity to try out your between-song material. Develop your sense of timing. There's a rhythm to being entertaining on stage. Wait a fraction of a second before delivering the punchline, if it's a joke. Wait a second to let something sink in if it involves double-entendre. This lets the audience realize that something just happened. Once they catch on, they'll love you all the more for it.

Prune the tree
Not everything you say, especially if it's something humorous, will go over well. If a story doesn't work, cut it from your banter collection. It's a lot like solo improvisization: remember the good stuff and throw away the bad. Before long, you'll have assembled a nice collection of between-song banter to keep your act running like a well-oiled machine.

Break a leg!


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