Q&A: Entertaining Stories
A corporate entertainer on following George Bush Sr., singing for The Three Tenors and entertainment’s true valueby Michael McAllen | Published in August 2009 entertainment | Departments
Recently, Michael McAllen of MeetingsPodcast sat down to talk entertainment with Brad Wilson of The Three Waiters. The general manager of the corporate entertainment act — in which performers pose as waitstaff, only to surprise the audience by dueling to sing the best French and Italian opera — had more than a few stories to share.
On the repercussions of good acting:
We did an event once for Marriott Corp. managers and owners. That night, I was playing the Frenchman, so during the cocktail hour and the beginning of the meal, I tried to do things that kept me in front of people’s eyes. So I went up to a table and I explained with my French accent the wine list and the wine pairings and so forth that we had selected for them. One lady in particular took an interest in me and started asking how I came to be in the States and why I was here and how long I planned on staying. At one point she just kind of lowered her voice and said, ‘Listen, I probably shouldn’t do this, but I’m really impressed by you. Would you consider relocating to Greenwich, Connecticut?’ She actually tried to hire me to work on her staff!
Fast-forward to when I’m actually performing and singing. Of course by the end of the show, clearly I’m an actor and a singer. She came up to me afterwards — she was hitting me and saying, “I can’t believe you did that to me! The whole table knows I tried to hire you!”
On what happens when George Bush Sr. runs long:
We did an event at Cipriani’s Wall Street. It was for a worldwide charity organization and they do a lot of great things and they attract major, major support. That night, [former President] George Bush Sr. spoke. As politicians often do, he went over by about 10 minutes. The kind of clientele that was there, they had to leave at a certain time and the event planner started panicking that the evening was going to go long and they weren’t going to get to the donation portion. They came to us and asked us what we could do, and so on-site, we actually cut the show down. We cut almost 10 minutes out — they were ecstatic!
On singing for Pavarotti:
The Three Waiters and The Three Tenors have some shared repertoire and obviously we’re three guys that sing powerfully and have a lot of soaring, high notes. A lot of our selections we perform are things The Three Tenors used to do. The last time The Three Tenors performed, it was in 2003 in England. Their promoters were aware of us and after the last concert was over, they had a VIP dinner where The Three Tenors were the guests of honor, and they hired us to perform for them. I’m actually looking at a picture right now of Luciano Pavarotti, [Plácido] Domingo and [José] Carreras giving a standing ovation after the show. It was a huge, huge thing for us.
On entertainment as community builder:
One of my favorite events I ever did was down in South America at a Four Seasons and it was just this beautiful event. I talked to my client about it last year and she goes, ‘It’s events like that that really make our company work. We showed potential clients that we cared about their business and we won the contract. I give no small credit to what you did!’ What may seem to some to be simply luxury meant millions of dollars to that company and to the state that company was located in.
Corporate entertainment can impress potential clients. This is especially important if you have a group of people that don’t know each other well. Maybe it’s the top managers of regional locations who have never been together before, or an association of people that don’t know each other. Entertainment at an event gives all the attendees something in common that they didn’t have in common before. All of a sudden, they have that one commonality that can carry over through the rest of the conference.
Download Michael McAllen’s full interview with Brad Wilson at meetingspodcast.com.