A couple of days ago via an agent I work with I got a late-notice request from a client looking for entertainment for a golf club season's opening dinner, which was to take place tonight. They wanted a mime, I was told. Had I ever done any mime?
That's one of those questions you answer very carefully.
Yes, I told them, but I'm not actually a mime.
Never mind, came the reply. Do what you can.
It was to be a strolling gig, interacting with guests during the cocktail hour before dinner.
Trying to get an idea of what they wanted, I asked if they had a theme, or even if they knew what kind of character they wanted. 'You decide,' they said.
So I decided on a cross between a Tim Burton character and Mr Bean. It won't become a regular part of my repertoire but for a one-off event, it worked. A chance to be delightfully, innocently, inadvertently creepy. And you'd be surprised how many older women will not only happily let their husbands trail behind as a ghoulish figure in a frock coat offers his arm and leads them away, but will flirt like Armageddon is scheduled for the following morning.
I got my copy of the Calgary Magic Circle newsletter a couple of days ago - a newsletter published 'Whenever we feel like it', according to the byline.
It included an article about the 2010 Regional Competition that took place about six weeks ago. Bear in mind that, having been back in Canada for barely three years now, my experience with this competition is limited, but in those three years it's always been good.
The last paragraph in the article reads:
"The audience turnout was the largest in the history of the competition. Over 120 spectators came to watch 13 competitors compete for $100 grand prize and trophies - an incredible turnout considering that just 5 short years ago this competition was held in a small room with 4~5 magicians, no spectators, competing for a troll doll nailed to a plank."
I had a gig on the weekend in a small town in south-central Alberta, which is probably a lot like south-central L.A. but withouth the people or the buildings. Or the climate. And with a greater life-expectancy.
Actually, it's nothing at all like south-central L.A.
It doesn't take long once you get past the foothills to reach a landscape sometimes affectionately (and other times not-so-affectionately) referred to as 'bald-ass prairie'. Yes, but early in the morning it's gorgeous. On the drive home I passed a coyote, some deer and two hawks all within ten minutes. Oh - and geese. Yup. Geese too.
And the gig? Good. It was held in the town's one and only bar and, as I had been told it would be, it was virtually dead until 10pm. Ten p.m. - the witching hour. The place began to fill up and we ended up having a great time. It's probably a good thing the place had been quiet until then - if they'd had three hours to drink before my show, they might not have followed ANYTHING I was doing.
Easter weekend - always a good time for gigs and despite the potential of facing a mob of sugared-up kiddie widdies, they've always proved me wrong on the day. This time it was two days at the Calgary Zoo, next to the elephant enclosure. Wisely the stage was not too close. Not that there's any physical danger, of course, but if you have to compete for an audience's attention, a 160-lb magician is no match for a 15-ton troupe of pachyderms, even without microphones.
Then Chateau Lake Louise on Sunday. Yes, it's a bit of a drive but if you have to do a 5-hour commute for work it may as well be on a sunny holiday through the Rockies.
The hotel may be known for its stellar location and panoramic view of the lake and its bowl of surrounding mountains, or its almost-fairy-tale architecture, or simply the fact that it's pretty swish overall, but for me the selling point is that they have a resident Golden Retriever to greet people in the front lobby.
Frankly I suspect she's part of their plan for dealing with disgruntled guests. Complainants are probably told to sit with the dog while they fetch the manager because, let's face it, it's hard to get angry when your hands are full of retriever.