For the last couple of weeks I have been on facebook having a right conflab about the bingo caller of the year comp. This all stems from my disappointment that there were hardly any Gala entrants in the NBGA version of caller of the year last year.
The consensus seems to be that my calling companions at Gala would rather enter the internal Gala caller of the year competition; the regional finals of which are being held at the end of April, than to even consider the NBGA version (which starts its preliminary rounds this month).
‘Why is this??I hear you cry!’
Well, if you become NBGA caller of the year you have technically beaten over 600 other callers in clubs up and down the land whereas the Gala comp proves your the top caller out of 160ish clubs!
The gala comp offers £200 for the regional title and £500 as the national prize. The NBGA gives £250 to the regional winner and £500 plus an all expenses trip to America for you and your partner for being the ultimate champ! Looking at in black and white and it seems to me like the NBGA one rocks in terms of prizes and prestige!
But look a bit deeper and you find out why the Gala comp is preferred by the majority of Gala callers. Gala prides themselves on having a pool of professional callers. They even have a calling school and a rising scale of calling qualifications from green card (qualified) to specialist and then to training caller (the top level) The Gala caller of the year competiton is basically a celebration of this. You are judged purely on your calling abilities, your appearance and your professionalism. This is what attracts the Gala callers!
The NBGA in comparison is looking for more than just a caller. Its an ambassador for the bingo industry that they want. You are judged via a interview which assesses your bingo knowledge/and how you would deal with the media, and you have to ‘entertain’ the crowd for 3 minutes before you are also assessed on your calling abilities.
I can understand that in terms of difficulty the Gala one is the easiest comp to go for as all you have to do is do what you do every day in club whereas the NBGA one wants you to know your legislation and see you dance/sing/do magic (whatever!) This seems to be the major stumbling block for my Gala colleagues:
I don’t sing/dance/entertain at work so why should I for the NBGA comp? The gala one doesn’t do that!’
This is what I am hearing constantly. The thing is this is a misinterpretation of the rules of the NBGA. You are required to ‘entertain’ the crowd for 3 minutes but there is absolutely no mention of singing/telling jokes or otherwise! All you have to do is to engage the players: and that is what you should be doing every time you go up on stage anyway! The entertainment section equates to less than 10% of the total marks (a paltry amount: you get marked more on your general appearance-around 20%) and I know from a judges perspective that all they are looking for is someone who can get a rapport with the crowd without going over the allotted time whether it be by singing or by telling a story; this guarantees you at least 7out of 10 marks in my opinion.
Out of the two competitions the NBGA contest is the more revered because of the media responsibilities you will endure. In my tenure as COTY I had to attend numerous radio interviews and local TV appearances not to mention perform at special events (see earlier posts for more on that, including eggheads and calling for celebrities)
After speaking to former Gala callers of the year you are very rarely used for anything PR related upon winning the Gala accolade! Actually the gala caller of the year title is nothing more than just that: a title. You might get the opportunity to call the big link games and you will get an audition for GTV but that is about it!
And if you think that the Gala caller is more professional than cast your minds back to the last 2 winners. Michael Farley did the splits on stage and the current champ Michael Edwards sang all the way up to the podium! Now is that something that happens every day in the club?! Even neutral watchers of last years final agreed that the winner won because he “stood out” from the other 10(?!?!?!?) finalists and showed some personality whereas the others were too similar. Maybe that is what is going wrong with the Gala competition: because of the success of the calling schools you are actually producing clones of what a caller should be at the detriment of why players love callers in the first place-there personality and individuality. What am i harping on about?! Why is this an issue? Am I just bitter because I never won the Gala competition?
Maybe! But the one thing that i can advise is why limit yourself? Enter as many competitions as you can if you think you are the best. I have been called arrogant on numerous occasions but I feel you need to have self-belief to do the job that you are doing! I am not an arrogant person in real life: I just know what I am capable of and I am competitive. I’m annoyed that because I now work predominantly on GTV that I am ineligible to enter either competition (and I could do with another trip to Las Vegas!)
If you are a hungry caller you would be thinking right now:
‘great…….thats one less bingo caller to worry about! The title is mine!’
So what are you waiting for? DO IT!!
(Good luck to all the regional finalist’s in this years Gala competition. Keep me posted on it all via this or any other media)