Born Standing Up

by Mike Walter

A number of years ago I read Steve Martin’s book, Born Standing Up and I loved it so much (and saw so many great pieces of advice in it for our industry) that I was inspired to write an article about it for The Disc Jockey News.

Recently, I stumbled on that article and I was reminded of probably the best take away I got from Mr. Martin. It was top-of-mind for me at the time because I am struggling with one of my DJs who is suffering through a mid-career slump, and I hoped this article might help him turn things around (the jury is still out on that).

First, to Mr. Martin’s words. Towards the end of the book, while recapping his years on the stand-up stage and he writes: “It was easy to be great. Every entertainer has a night when everything is clicking. These nights are accidental and statistical: Like lucky cards in poker, you can count on them occurring over time. What was hard was to be good, consistently good, night after night, no matter what the abominable circumstances.”

When I read that the first time I thought, “What a fantastic point that is for any entertainer.”

As Mobile DJs, we should never judge ourselves by our best parties. There are some crowds that are just insane. They will dance to anything and everything. And the odds are, if you DJ at enough events, you will have the pleasure of spinning for crowds like this from time to time. Good for you.

How Good Are You?

But the real test is whether or not you can be good at every event. When the crowd is great and when the crowd is dead. On a Saturday Night or a Sunday afternoon. When everything goes perfectly and when they get a snow storm and only half of their guests show up. Can you be consistently good at every single party? That indeed is the sign of a true professional.

The challenge that I am having with one of my entertainers is that he has fallen into a little bit of a rut. What I like to call “front-running.” If his gig is good and the crowd is dancing from the get-go then he rises to the occasion and is on his game. But if the crowd needs some encouragement and doesn’t respond to his first or even second attempt, he seems to lose interest and not care enough to keep plugging away. That’s why I call it “front-running.” It reminds me of those sports fans who wear their team colors when they are playing well but you’d never know who they rooted for when their team is playing badly.

My definition of “fan” is someone who sticks by their team through thick and thin. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know I root for my teams even when they play poorly and break my heart (which lately seems like always).

The Bad Ones Define You

As Steve Martin pointed out, and as I emphasize to my staff, your performance at the BAD gigs is what defines you as an entertainer and DJ. Your willingness to keep trying to get a crowd involved and your ability to keep smiling even when you just want to cry from boredom, these are the traits that will separate you from every other DJ.

As you can tell I highly recommend Born Standing Up. Not only is it an interesting read about a guy who forged a memorable career in show business, but there are lessons to be learned there for all of us.

Mike Walter – Multi-Op Corner

Mike Walter is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of DJ staff training and multi-system business development.

He is also a writer for Disc Jockey News and Producer of the International DJ Expo’s “DJ of the Year” competition.

Mike is the owner of NJ’s Elite Entertainment, selected by The Knot and Modern Bride magazine as one of the country’s top entertainment companies.

To contact him about his on-site training services or for general inquiries, email

Mike’s new book, Running Your Multi-Op, and his highly praised DVD set, Training Your Next Great DJ, are available at


  • Mike Walter is the proud owner of Elite Entertainment, a Multi-System DJ Company in New Jersey that has been selected by and as a top Entertainment company in the country. For over 30 years, he has MCed events from weddings to fashion shows and beauty pageants and his public speaking experience and acumen have served him well as a presenter.

    He began to offer seminars in 1998, at first specifically to the DJ Industry, then he expanded to speaking to event groups and finally to any and all audiences. His seminars are known for their fast pace, mix of information and entertainment and deft use of Keynote. Having sat through enough tedious seminars in his life, Mike vows to never bore an audience. Whether he is offering life changing advice, motivational challenges or hard-core information on how to grow and expand your business, Mike promises he will deliver a quick, concise, and nugget-filled presentation every time he speaks.

    Mike has published three books, Running Your Multi-Op which is widely consider the most comprehensive book for anyone interested in expanding their DJ business, the self-help primer, Ten Things You Can Do to Have a Better Day and the music history compendium: On This Date in Music. He’s also released a number of education videos to help his fellow DJs and business owners. In 2014 he partnered with Joe Bunn to start the PhDJ Workshop and in 2017 the two began a weekly podcast called the PhDJ Podcast.

    For more information head to and

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