Monday, December 20, 2010

Project 365 (353/365): On Being As Good As Your Last Show

.:353/365: On Being As Good As Your Last Show:.

A jock I know told me a long time ago: you’re only as good as your last boardwork.

In a lot of things, that holds true. So let me tell you about my last show, but before that, let me tell you about my worst one...

I still remember my worst one, because it’s the one show that made me stop from taking host-magician gigs for about half a year before I worked my confidence back up to a level where I felt I was capable of performing and worth the amount I’m charging.

It happened about three years ago, if I’m not mistaken. I had a show in a restaurant where, on the second floor, another party was also happening. Our sound systems were overlapping, and from the start, that was a sign of trouble to come.

The audience I had to work with numbed me to the core. It was an audience that I was having the hardest time working with, because it was a bunch of kids who simply could not be restrained and would give nightmares to any performer, but at the time, I was unprepared to deal with them, so instead of yours truly running the show, they ran the show, and that made sure things were headed south and fast.

Meanwhile, the other host-magician upstairs was getting miffed not just because of our overlapping sound systems, but also because he felt that I was disrespecting him for some unknown reason. Who knows? It’s magic.

To top it all off, a performer for the other party assumed that my party was where he was supposed to perform. And with no fanfare and introduction, he just went in and did his stuff. It was amazing. It was an awesome spectacle to behold. But he was not booked on the first floor, where I was. This meant that the second floor was technically robbed of their performer, and this performer was furious that the host (That would be me.) did not even so much as welcome him or introduce him. Well, how could I? He wasn’t in the program at all, and I was still fixing up the games for after the mealtime.

This was an unmitigated disaster in every sense of the word. To be honest, on hindsight, if I could’ve refused payment for that show, I would’ve, because I did so horribly at it, and I realized it only after a few weeks after the fact just how horrible it really was, and let’s face it: as I had a long lull before I had more shows to do, for a while, the only show of mine that my contemporaries talked about was that abortion of a performance. Only after doing damage control did I manage to salvage my good standing and being a professional as is required of all of us, I offered no excuses and apologized with no reservations to both the other host-magician and the performer, despite it all being a massive misunderstanding.

Only six months later did I do a stage show again, and it was because the lady who booked me told me explicitly, “I believe you will do a great job.” And I did. And that was also when I met sir Ony Carcamo, so overall, that was a great experience that helped me shake off the blues.

Let’s contrast that with my show last Thursday in Aruba...

Admittedly, I have an easier time working with adults, but there were some unique challenges presented to me by this night, not the least of them the fact that I was going to compete with food throughout the evening. The party had a buffet setting, and any magician worth their salt will tell you that it’s a losing battle to try to win the audience’s support while they’re eating. On top of that, the lady who booked found me online, and since she’s based in Singapore, she had no idea who I actually was, nor any idea what half my list of previous shows actually meant in terms of my range of experience and clientele. She was very attractive, though. :P

Anyways, I got to Aruba and lined up my stuff. I see the audience trickling in slowly as my client started getting them to put in the songs they want to sing for the evening’s talent showcase. Before the show, I was tasked with finding 20 or so instrumental songs that the audience members could sing, and the moment I knew singing would be involved, I had a really good feeling about the whole night.

So I did my comedy/magic/mentalism show, and I made sure to involve as much of the audience as possible, as I did some of my surefire crowd pleasers (About three years ago when I had my dismal show, I was still groping around to find what my standard set would be. I now have one where I mix and match about a dozen or two other rotating acts to have some variety of sorts.) and had the crowd primed for the rest of the night’s festivities.

Well, after I did a bit of table-hopping to complement the stage show, it was time for the piece de resistance: they were going to take centerstage and sing their lungs out in hopes of winning the audience over. With songs ranging from “Billionaire” to “Buloy”, it was a hurly-burly night that had people rolling in their seats and just enjoying the festivities for the great spectacle that it was.

I feel that the biggest difference between then and now was that I knew how to take control of the show this time. When I felt that the “Pinoy Idol” show was lacking a certain something, I asked for chairs to be brought closer to the stage for the judges to sit down and give their comments after each performer. I didn’t let the organizer of the event dictate to me the pacing of the show, instead allowing my instinct to tell me where the audience was and what they were looking for at any given point.

Needless to say, if I never did a show again after this one, I’d have gone out with a pretty good reputation, as my client was all smiles at the end of the night, and told me that if I ever went to Singapore, she’d be happy to show me around – an offer I’d surely be taking up sometime next year.

You’re really only as good as your last show. You may have a reputation that precedes you, but it’s always the last thing you ever did before you hit the stage again that people will tend to remember best, and good or bad, that is what you will be judged against. For your own sake, keep on doing good shows, or at least, working towards them. You never know if it’d be the last show you’d ever do, after all.

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