Sunday, January 15, 2006

Worst Chrtistmas Show Ever Part 4.

Part one can be found at
Part two can be found at
Part three can be found at

Part 4.

… I had a quick check of my watch and noticed … I was running way fast.
You see I had the show timed so that by the end of, say, the third trick a certain amount of time had passed.  Not a set amount of time, but at this point I should have between this amount of time and that amount of time passed.
This way, when I check my watch and I see, for example, that I may be running fast then I can slow down a bit, maybe tell a joke to spread the time out.  Now I had been fast before, but at this point I was way fast, in fact if I had continued at this speed I might have shaved a good ten minutes off the show.
So I stalled.  I used the magic of “Knock Knock Jokes.”  That’s right; to kill time I tell knock knock jokes.  As adults we think these jokes are corny but kids love them, and they all know a few so I start out by telling a couple of my favorites then ask “Does anyone else know a good knock knock joke?”
Let me tell you something you may not know.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands of knock knock jokes out there, but kids only know two, and one of them they never get right.
The two jokes end with the punch lines “No need to cry, it’s only a joke.” and “Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana?”
Guess which one they never get right.
So, two jokes from me, two jokes from the kids, a Quick check of my watch and I am now only five minutes fast.  Now all I have to do is slow down the delivery of the last couple of tricks and all shall be fine.
This is the part where I open my mouth to speak and nothing comes out.
I try again and once again nothing.
I can feel that my throat is dry, a problem that pops up during winter, which is why I always keep a bottle or two of water in my case.  I had a quick sip and tried again.  This time a sound came out, a kind of squeak.  Another sip and another squeak.
Dear God I had lost my voice!
Now let me tell you I have theater training.  I have been performing in theater since I was nine years old.  Over the years I have learned many ways to warm up your voice before a performance, and I always use some of them before any show, so I should not be loosing my voice.
And yet I was.
I think this is a good time to let you know some of my inner thoughts.  At this time I was thinking “AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!”
So what did I do?  I did whatever I could do.  Using my voice at normal levels wasn’t working so I started to yell, that gave me a voice that was almost loud enough to get by, but I know it wasn’t going to last so I gave up on time and went right to my last trick.
Big Mistake!
While I figured it was a good idea at the time I had forgotten that my last trick, “The Scary, Scary Trick of Doom” was a good eight minutes long, while I could have gone for a different trick that was only three minutes long.
It didn’t matter; I was knee deep into the trick before I realized it was a stupid mistake on my part.  By the end of the trick I didn’t even pretend to be speaking, I just mimed everything and hoped it worked.

There, the show was over.  Now all I had to do was give each and every kid a balloon animal, collect my pay and get out of there.  Now today I no longer do balloon animals after my shows, but back then I did one for each child and, because kids are kids, would usually end up either re-twisting or making new one’s for about a third of the kids.  
When making balloon animals I take the time to chat up the kids and see what they liked about the show and what they didn’t like.  On this day I kept my mouth shut.  All I would say (in a squeaky voice) is “And what animal would you like?” and then do it.  No chit chat.
Now my show usually takes about forty-five minutes, balloon animals usually take about the same amount of time.  (Which is part of the reason I don’t do them anymore.)  After the show I looked around to find “Gail” and spotted her across the cafetorium.  During the balloon animal portion I would occasionally take a peek at Gail, and each time she caught my eye she would look at her watch and sigh.
Fine, she wanted me gone and I wanted to go, so I twisted as fast as I could, packed up my show and took all my stuff outside the door to the cafetorium.  Now all I had to do was get paid and I could go home and rest my poor voice.
And wouldn’t you know it, when it was time to pay Gail was nowhere to be found.  I looked high and low, and couldn’t find her.  I even asked someone where she was and got this bit of advice “Well, I’m sure she’s busy.  Why don’t you leave your address and I’m sure she’ll mail your pay.”
Yeah, right!
Sop I got sneaky.  I stood at the entrance, looked around (noticing the woman I had talked to was watching me), gathered my things and went to put them in the car.  At the car I waited for a few minutes (Just enough time to let them think I had left for good) then went back in.  Wouldn’t you know it, Gail and that other woman were chatting.  (I wonder about what?)  I went over to them and cleared my throat.  They both seemed a little shocked at seeing me, but I said (As best I could) that the show was over and if I could just get paid I’d be out of their hair.
Gail said “Of course, let me just find the treasurer and I’ll get you a check.”  And disappeared for another ten minutes.
But I stood my ground.  I wasn’t going to leave until I got paid so, even though people were leaving, I stayed.
Eventually Gail had no choice.  She rushed across the room, shoved a hand written personal check into my hand and said, “Ok, well, goodbye.”
I should note here that no magician would, in his right mind, accept a personal check.  I thought about complaining that our arrangement was either cash of a company check, but I knew I wouldn’t get either so I just smiled and left.
My next stop was the closest Royal Bank, where I deposited the check immediately.  (It cleared, by the way.)

So, what lessons were learned by this experience?  Only one.  No matter how well planned you think you are, there is always the chance that someone will screw it all up for you.  It is the one thing you cannot plan for.

So there it is, the worst Christmas show ever.  It took over a month to get it out and I hope it was worth it.  (I doubt it was.)  This would be a good time to mention that I have not done a Christmas (Or Holiday) show in two years and I do not miss it.  There is a belief that, as a magician Christmas shows are a must.  A necessary evil if you will.  I don’t believe that.  As a middle-aged man I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. (Outside of work or eating my wife’s cooking.)
You say I have to do Christmas shows, I say if you have to do them then you are doing them for the wrong reason.  You should do them because you want to and, since I don’t want to and since if I did them I would be doing them only for the money, then I opt out.
I have a good job, it pay’s well.  If I want money I’ll do overtime.  If I want to perform I’ll do that as well, not just for the money but because I want to perform.  (Of course I wouldn’t perform for free, that would just be silly, but money would not be the only factor.)

There is one other reason I don’t do Christmas shows anymore.  It’s because I believe I want to do a show that I want to do.  A stage show.  A dream show.  It is where my energy’s are right now and it is where I believe my fate (if you believe in that sort of thing) is leading me.  It’s a lot of work, it’s also a lot of money, but in the end it will be worth my while because, even if I fail, I can at least say I tried.  With all my heart and soul I tried.
And that is what is worth it!  (Bad sentence structure and all!)

Next Post:  The Penultimate Worst Christmas Show Ever.  Part 1 of 352.


Blogger Billp said...

Brutal experiance dude. This "Gail" of whom you speak sounds nightmarish. I mean, seriously, there should have been a printed and signed cheque already done, ready to hand you as soon as you finished your show.

Some day I'll tell you about doing Shakespeare in BC, and how much it cost me (and my fellow actors) and how much we got paid...


12:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home