When time is money, how much can you afford to spend on a joke?

At a recent event, I was hired as the professional auctioneer.  I was advised they had several celebrities in the past acting as the auctioneer, but they believed using a professional would elevate their event.  

Knowing their celebrities wanted to be involved and their guests expected to see them we worked out a plan to use the celebrity as the auction emcee.  He would introduce the item perhaps, add a bit of humor and whim, and then I would sell the item.  In a special “warm up” meeting, where we were directed to bond for stage authenticity, we sat around and talked about his flow.  He was a bit quiet and he didn’t give me too much of a feel for his personality but was nice.  We talked about his roll in the auction.  We talked through the items (again we had several conference calls about this as well) and prepared to really engaged the donors.  

So there we are standing awkwardly backstage.  The audience was happy and excited.  There was a buzz in the room. Lots of celebrities sat waiting to see who would come out.  Then we were introduced.  Him as Mr. so-and-so-funny-man-fancy-pants and me, as “the auctioneer that trained at a school to sell cattle,” ok so we were off to a great start! Haha.  

It was about the skit. It was about the funny.  He brought the funny but I was focused on the money raised.  See he was hired for his name and his personality I was hired to raise more money to change people’s lives.  We had different goals that night.  He knew it didn’t really matter what he did because his name would carry him as long as guests liked him and he made them laugh.  I knew if I didn’t meet and preferably break their goals I wouldn’t be hired back.  

The auction begins Lot #1, funny man intro, the audience giggles and I take over to sell it.  It’s the 1st time I can talk into the microphone so I intro myself as more than a cattle auctioneer but also their way to help change the lives of these special children.  The chanting begins, the auction chant, the rhythm, the speed, the excitement, the timing, the pendulum, and the audience jaws drop and the hands fly in the air.  No one wants to miss this opportunity. They all get excited to get into the game.  I start at “1 buck” as a reference to my comedians’ earlier joke and I sell my first item: A Gag Gift of Bread for $5,000.   Now the comedians jaw drops.  He doesn’t know where to go from here.  I thank them for their support and tell them what that donation will do for the kids directly.  The crowd goes wild.

Back to the funny man to intro next item and he begins to speak very quietly…  Bam!  There goes the energy out the window.  I see that I will need to work extra hard to get our momentum back.  And he keeps talking… slow… long jokes…. I feel like yelling “Time is money!! They will need to refill their drinks soon… Let’s go dude!”

Finally back to me… again momentum up, chanting, strong numbers coming in.  Again, crowd is pumped and again we go back to his quiet jokes.  This is going to be a pattern.  

We go back and forth like this a few times. Then comes the items I am ready for.  Peaked at the perfect position, we worked so hard on the item order.  The energy in the room would definitely build here…  He introduces it and I take it away.  Hands high, bidding intense and the audience is laughing and cheering, I’m reminding them why we are there their friends are all cheering and I hear the funny man’s voice on the mic stepping on my words…. I ignore him and roll through the bidding going strong and think to myself, “Please don’t interrupt good bidding let them give!! Let them give!!!”

Then he does it again.. I am more beloved in the audience at this point in time and we are going strong so I keep going and then the bidding begins to get to the high high place.. The place that the bidders now need some reminding; now they need some encouragement… Funny man where are you??? I look back to get his attention, finally we are on the same page and he can interject the joke he was trying to step on my bids with previously.  Ok so there is that joke that’s funny, we laugh. I go back to my bidders and try to work with the joke and it works. We get a few more bids. Good job funny man, finally at the right time.  

After the auction, people run up to the stage to talk to both of us. For me it’s a high five and a wow what a great job for him it’s a selfie for twitter. I get it we both served a great purpose, but I shudder to think if he had been the auctioneer would he have stopped the great bidding momentum just to make his joke and be the star of the night?  Would he have worked as hard as I did? I think celebrities are great at events, but using a professional auctioneer that has the skill and training to know when the bidding is hot and know how to work their audience to spend more is a bit more important at an event to raise critical funds.  

Paired up we worked great and I did meet and exceed their goals!  I am also hired back.  I am not sure if he will be, but someone else funny will be there for a photo-op, that’s for sure.