What a dreary, unimaginative opening line for a blog entry that purports to be about something strange.
I mused over that line for a few minutes, trying all my might to embellish it with elegant language, but I drew blank. Then it hit me. The line is ordinary because it speaks of a workaday truth.
For us magicians, the ringing of a telephone is an ordinary daily occurrence. It is, to paraphrase Dale Carnegie, the sweetest sound in the world.
A phone ring sounds sweet to a magician’s ears, because it means a prospect may be calling. Prospects are difficult to find, so when they call, the marketing process becomes shorter and the sales pitches more successful.
So back to the opening line, dreary though it may be. A prospect called me on the phone asking about my availability on a certain date.
I checked my calendar and told her the date is already taken.
A short silence from her end. And then she said, “Can you recommend an alternate magician?”
I said I’d ask around to see who among my colleagues have open dates.
She then said something that unsettled me. Her exact words, “You can recommend any magician, provided he doesn’t bore us.”
She was not looking for a good, better or great magician. She was just looking for someone who is not boring. Meaning, someone who knows how to entertain.
But why? Isn’t “entertaining” the default quality of all live acts, including magic?
If a prospect is scouting for a singer, she would look for someone with a good voice, who can sing standard songs, or ballads, or rock-and-roll. The prospect would never say, “The singer should be entertaining,” because it is a given fact that singers are entertaining.
If a prospect is looking for a dancer, she would narrow down her choice by the type of dance the talent does—whether he or she does ballroom dancing, ballet, hip hop, etc. The prospect would not say, “The dancer should not bore us,” because it is an accepted knowledge that dancers are entertaining.
Not so with magicians. Apart from his awesome sleight-of-hand, beautiful manipulation, dazzling illusions, big props, dancing girls in skimpy dresses, a magician must be entertaining. He must not bore his audience.
Why this requirement? Does it mean that magicians, unlike singers and dancers, lack the reputation of being entertaining?
Or to put it another way, have magicians built up a reputation for being boring?
Answer that question for me, please. I don’t have the nerve to know the truth.
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