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PhotobucketHere’s a conundrum: as a magician, do you prefer to follow a good act or perform ahead of it?

If you follow a lackluster act, here’s the advantage: when you kill the audience with your show, the contrast between you and the performer you followed is so sharp you would look like a superstar. The disadvantage: you’ll be performing for a crowd left cold by the other performer. You will be fighting an uphill battle from the start just to rouse the audience from a catatonic state.

On the other hand, if you follow a good act, the disadvantage is this: you will look inferior compared to the act before you. The audience will notice that your act has less laughter, less applause, less audience rapport, and less entertainment as opposed to the previous performer’s. The advantage is that you start your act with a red-hot audience, and you don’t need anymore to warm them up. In fact, they’re probably so warmed up that you don’t have to do something special to blow them away.

PhotobucketIn the birthday party circuit, I find the Golden Show difficult to follow. He always holds the audience in suspense with his daredevil act while at the same time putting them in stitches with his comedic skills. I almost have the same goal with the Golden Show—which is to rack up as many laughs per minute while showing my wares. When we perform at the same event, the Golden Show and I have a running gag of pretending to have a serious meeting backstage to decide who comes on stage first.

PhotobucketGlenn Angeles (Yoyomaster Glenn) is another tough act to follow. He is just so skillful at what he does it is impossible not to be mesmerized by his act. I always quake in my pants when I perform after him, fearing the audience will make the comparison and find my act short of their needs. My only consolation is that Glenn’s act is so different from mine that the audience sees the contrast. Because of this, my act usually escapes unscathed from any comparison.

alex-1Alex Lagula is hard to follow, too. He loves comedy magic and can rock the house with his funny antics. I’m just lucky that most time when we perform at the same party (unless the birthday mom requests otherwise), he packs his magic wands away and concentrates on just emceeing the party. When time comes for me to perform, the audience is already prepped up, and performing my show becomes a cakewalk.

However in theater shows, I, being the director, would put Alex as far from my number as possible. He goes to the first part of the show, and I go to the second part. In that way, we are able to harvest our fair shares of laughter without draining the well, so to speak.

PhotobucketKent Estrada is another act that a performer would not like to follow. With his big illusions and a bevy of beautiful girls as assistants (I think their name is Miss Directions, because they have this uncanny ability to misdirect audience attention), following his elegant and spellbinding act is like committing artistic suicide. I survived our Teatrino and Davao full-evening shows only because our performing styles are so different the audience is not inclined to compare us with each other. Besides, being blessed by the handsome genes of Mel Gibson, I always attract the audience with my good looks.

PhotobucketLou Hilario is arguably the toughest act to follow. I can’t imagine what I would do if I found myself booked in the same party with him. This is not going to happen, though, because he has another market niche and I have another. I don’t expect to bump into him in the same show any time soon. However, in the unlikely event we perform at the same party, I might opt not to do magic. Instead, I will perform my other talent—belly dancing.

Now I’m mentioning all this to you because recently I followed an act I never thought would imperil mine. But it did. Twice.

That’s right. Two times in the recent past months, I performed at a huge party (like guests numbering 1,500 or more) where I followed singer Darius Razon onstage.

PhotobucketIn his spiel, Darius claimed he would turn 60 years old next year. I doubt it, though, because his face still looks fresh and so good looking no 60-year-old can have a face like that except Leodini at 18.

His voice is still beautiful. His soulful rendition of Tagalog songs always brings back nostalgic memories of the ’70s.

But these were not the reasons why he surprised me. He not only looked and sounded good, but he also had the improbable ability to make people laugh.

I said “improbable” because all along, I thought Darius was a serious performer. He sings sentimental ballads, doesn’t he? But between those sad ballads, he drops one-liners and throws around repartee that bring the house down. As in crashing down.

You should have seen me nurse my nervousness backstage, while watching him kill the audience just minutes away from mounting the same stage.

That’s right, Darius Razon killed the audience. No, he did something more. He did not just kill. He committed audience genocide. To my consternation, everybody willingly lapped up his jokes.

PhotobucketAt last when it’s time for me to come on stage, I had an uphill battle. I felt like a German soldier fighting my way through thick thickets in Stalingrad during World War II. And to think there were no thick thickets in Stalingrad during World War II.

I was only able to recover from my dose of shock-and-awe after about 15 minutes, when I brought two respectable guests (a congressman and a councilor) onstage to put me in a straitjacket.

Next time, in a big event, watch out for the surprise performer who will make your life miserable onstage by rocking the house before you are given the first chance to do so.

Stay magical,