Over the course of nearly 20 years reading posts and arguments about a variety of issues many DJs find important, I’ve decided to address some of these arguments in a series of articles, which explain my take on these (non)issues. These issues include topics like whether or not to eat at an event, what clothing to wear, tips, drinking alcohol, smoking, and more.
Many of these “arguments” are non-issues in the larger entertainment industry, where professional behavior is taught, encouraged, emulated, and accepted as the norm instead of argued. It is an industry that fosters ever-increasing levels of improvement, with individuals striving to be the best they can become.
If clients expect you to eat, they view you as either a guest or an employee – but not as a professional entertainer. Often we accept the hospitality of our clients as a compliment. But what it tells us is that they don’t see us as highly paid pro’s.
Reasons not to eat:
It’s hard to look like a professional entertainer while you’re eating. Think of how many pro’s you’ve seen eating during their show. You won’t see Beyonce take a break for a snack during her show, nor Jimmy Kimmel or Ellen. You don’t see Tom Bergeron munching away during Dancing with the Stars or Ryan Seacrest stuffing his face during American Idol. Eating is not attractive, even if you’re aware and careful. But most DJs, who rarely think about professionalism in this way, likely aren’t aware of how they look, which means they most likely aren’t careful about how they eat. To look good eating, you must take very small bites, slowly, while smiling. Then you must eat slowly, chewing with your mouth shut.
As an entertainer, you must be entertaining, which means engaging other guests in witty repartee. As a result, you need to take more time than you can and most likely won’t really eat very much before you would have to return to your duties. So eating properly isn’t really possible.
While eating, you’re not entertaining. You’re not in the moment. You’re not able to react to any opportunities that will enhance your clients’ and audiences’ experience. Being away from your booth, soundboard, computer, and microphone takes you away from spontaneous moments and spontaneous reactions. In order to react to something immediately, you must be available to react immediately. You can’t have a mouth full of steak and potatoes and speak. And, if you use the dinner hour to create personalized moments, it is simply impossible to eat because you would be too busy setting the stage and conducting those moments as a true Master of Ceremonies.
Physiological effects of eating detract from your ability to do your job effectively. Blood used by your brain for thinking goes to your stomach to digest food. Your intestines begin to contract and expand creating digestive juices that have certain affects. Air and/or gas are ingested or created and can interfere with your ability to speak professionally. If you suffer from the slightest food allergy, it will create mucous and interfere with speaking professionally, and breathing is impaired. If you don’t suffer from any food allergies, there are substances in all foods and some drinks that will affect your ability to speak, including milk, alcohol, coffee, tea, food additives, oils, etc., which create dehydration and other conditions, which affects speaking professionally. Professional speakers, actors, singers, and Masters of Ceremonies – anyone who uses her/his voice professionally – will do all they can to protect, enhance, and get the most from their “instrument.” Celine Dion is known to not speak before and between performances. Food that is eaten during the day of a performance is very carefully selected and eaten well before or after performance time.
Reasons to eat:
Of course, many, many DJs (too many) will disagree and argue against my case. In much the same way smokers and alcoholics will deny their addiction and its consequences… because it serves their needs. But it doesn’t serve the needs of their clients and audiences, which is paramount above all other considerations.
If you are an entertainment professional who has not considered these consequences, please reconsider. For DJs to disagree with my assessment suggests that they haven’t fully understood their role or responsibilities as a truly professional entertainer as viewed through the prism of the larger entertainment industry. The most celebrated and highly paid entertainers do everything possible to protect their ability to reach their audiences. They protect their image. They protect their voices. They protect their art.
If you’re a couple getting married and are hiring a professional to preside over your reception, don’t offer them a meal or expect that they should have one. If the DJ you’re considering demands a meal, immediately find a professional entertainer and Master of Ceremonies who understands the negative consequences of eating during a performance. Find a professional who refuses to risk your precious event for selfish, amateur reasons.
And… You can quote me on that.
©2014 Mark K. Ferrell