However, if I’m invited to attend it to perform magic for the guests while they are feasting for hours on a dozen courses of meal, then I’d dread it.
I thought I was the only performer who abhorred grand banquets, where glorious foods are served for hours on end. I’ve talked to other novelty artists (jugglers, balancers, etc.), and they too confessed to their strong dislike for this type of event.
As a magician in the Philippines, I always go to great lengths to make sure a successful performance. This goal requires not only an excellent program and an outstanding performance, but also a reasonable control over the performing environment.
To gun for a superb performance, I always stack the odds in my favor. I use only dependable audio equipment, so the audience can hear be clearly. I make sure no obstacles stand between me and the people watching me, such as a swimming pool or a large dance floor separating me from the audience. And most of all, if the client would allow me to have my way, I’d prefer to perform my show when the guests are done eating.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize a no-brainer, awful fact: performing for an audience partaking of their meal is a recipe for failure, if not disaster. It often guarantees that the show flops. It ensures the performer bombs.
While eating, an audience cannot and would not give the action onstage their undivided attention. They are too distracted by the multiple choices of sumptuous food on the table.
They don’t have the inclination, nor the motivation, to leave their seats (and their unfinished food) when I call them onstage to take part in my well-rehearsed, drop-their-jaws-on-the-floor Professor’s Nightmare.
So what normally happens, in situations like this, is that I’m marooned onstage, surrounded by hundreds of people who show no appreciation to my magic.
There are lots of people keeping an eye on me, but they are all unspeaking, unreacting zombies who are busy gobbling, munching and devouring their glorious meal.
Performing for them always envelops me with a terrible, sinking feeling. Really. You ought to try it one of these days to understand what I mean.
So when I’m in a party or a banquet that serves a 12-course meal, there’s no way I could have my ideal performing condition—that is, going onstage after the guests have eaten. If I insisted on that requirement, I’d have to wait for at least two-hours for the feast to run its entire course. Not a practical strategy when there’s another engagement in another part of Metro Manila waiting to be fulfilled.
Lately, I have been thinking to make a pre-requisite for accepting bookings. I will impose that the meal served at the event should not be more than five courses. But then that would be a foolhardy strategem, because the 12-course banquets pay well. Like you, I need money too. So I think it is all right for my artistic pride to take a beating at this type of event.
- Can an Unfunny Magician be Taught How to be Funny? (innermagicclub.wordpress.com)