Funny that I noticed this phenomenon only during the last Yuletide season. I’m sure it’s been entrenched in the culture and norms of the Filipino society for some time now. I must have become so jaded about it that I noticed it only recently.
If you are wondering what I’m talking about, well, let me explain the phenomenon by citing some of my Christmas parties last December.
In one corporate show, an official looking lady sidled up to me backstage while I was setting up my stuff before the program started. In a conspiratorial tone, she told me, “See those tables in front of the stage?”
“Uh huh,” I said, not knowing where exactly she’s going with her table-pointing act.
“Table 20 and 21 are where the family owners of this company are seated.”
“So…?” I asked, barely able to contain my curiosity.
“So…they are sooo off limits to you,” she said. “Don’t bring any of them on the stage to take part in any of your routines. Also, don’t throw your jokes at them. Let them watch the show, but don’t involve them.”
“Good thing you warned me,” I told her. “I was already eyeing the members of tables 20 and 21. They look like perfect volunteers for a funny act. I’m sure they will have a great time if I bring them on stage and horse around with them. Anyway, this is a Christmas party. It’s time everybody hangs his hair down and forget the troubles of workaday life.”
“Don’t ever do that…” she said.
And so it came to pass that I didn’t involve tables 20 and 21 in the show, even though I saw the people there laughing hard the entire time I was on stage.
The above exchange with the lady event coordinator is just a representative of the exchanges I had with coordinators at other Christmas parties where I was also told not to involve in the show the CEO of the company.
As I said earlier, I didn’t notice this phenomenon, until I got the chance to perform at a Christmas party where the highest CEO of the land—namely, the President of the Philippines—was in the audience,
Just before I mounted the stage, the emcee came up to me and said, “Let me give you an orientation…”
By this time I knew what was coming…as I heard this “orientation” a couple of times before. “No political jokes…and no jokes about his love life. And of course, don’t bring him on stage.”
Okay, I get the part that there are protocols to observe when performing for the highest official of the land. These are no brainer to me.
But hey, owners of the company to be handled gingerly (or not at all) in Christmas party? It is still a teaser for me.
Specially when after the show, one member of table 21 rose and gushed all over me backstage. She said, “My mom thoroughly enjoyed the show she wants you to have this…” She then pressed a huge tip into my palm and gushed all over again.
We magicians need not understand why some bigwig clients want to hide inside the cocoon of protocols. It doesn’t make sense, but it pays to follow instructions and leave them be, untouched by our jokes but still spellbound by our magic.