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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The September 2003 entrée: Whit Haydn » » In a Tough Spot » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Scott F. Guinn
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Hypothetical situation, Whit:

Your are the MC for a show at a Magic Convention where the audience is comprised of laymen as well as the attendees of the convention. The show is going well until the "variety" act comes on--about 40 ladies aged 65-102 dressed in full turn of the last century regalia (complete with parosols!), doing almost an hour of "singing" and "dancing" (Swanee River, Bicycle Built for Two, etc). People are walking out, but the ladies seem oblivious.

I know you'll get a chuckle (or maybe a shiver!) remembering this true-life scenario, but I wonder if you could take some time to tell us what, as an MC, you do in situations like this, and what you feel your responsibilities are as far as trying to salvage the show, etc. Hoepfully, none of us will ever have to face THAT situation again, but certainly anyone who has MC'd has run into the problem of a terrible act that runs way long, and I think your advice would be very valuable in this regard.
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Whit Haydn
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Scott:

Thanks so much for reminding me of that fiasco. The worst part of the whole thing, you failed to mention. I had to close the show with my thirty minute act, following the ten minutes (that ended up forty-five) of the thirty ladies with the white hair and "heartfelt" tunes. Not the best situation to deal with for an emcee.

I remember vaguely that I said something deadpan about "that is a hard act to follow..." and went on with my act. This got a great laugh from the crowd.

The organizer of the convention show told me when I first questioned the idea of bringing on such an act, that "variety acts are always the hit of a magic show."

I told him that that is not really the way it works. Occasionally a variety act that is really kick-ass will walk off with a convention show, but the average variety act will die a painful death, usually carrying the rest of the show with it.

This group was such an act. The old ladies were charming, and wonderful in their own way, but when they went on past ten minutes, they lost the audience and killed the show. They were very unprofessional, as should have been expected. They were oblivious to any attempts on my part or the stage manager's to get them to wind things up, and they didn't seem to notice the gradually vanishing audience.

There really isn't a lot that the emcee can do in a situation like this, since he is not the director or producer of the show, and can not make the decisions that he might like to make--"Get the hook." One has to keep a good sense of humor, and stay on the side of the audience.

He should try to keep a sense of the audience's feelings, and both acknowledge and validate what they are thinking about the show, with a sense that things will be getting better very soon. One should never attack the offending act, or put down the show itself, but a humorous take on what has been going on is important, as well as an energetic push to move the show as quickly as possible in a new direction.
Scott F. Guinn
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"Great Scott!" aka "Palms of Putty" & "Poof Daddy G"
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Great advice! I have been in similar situations, but with little girl dance classes. Supposed to have 10-12 minutes and did 57. At least they were CUTE!

In an instance like this, where you closed the show with your own act, did you cut back on it to try to "make up" for the extended act of the ladies, or did you go ahead and do your full 30 minutes? As I recall, there weren't a whole lot of people left at that point!

One of the (tragically) funny things about this act was that there was an ambulance in the parking lot after the show. I asked one of the EMTs if someone was sick or had been hurt. He replied that they were there on call "just in case" for the Choral Belles!
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Whit Haydn
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It was the audience that was more likely to need the ambulance. Actually, I did the full thirty minutes as planned. Much of the audience had gone outside to smoke, do card tricks, get something to eat, etc. When the Choral Belles paraded out, they came back in. So I had a pretty good group of rested spectators. Most of the audience members who stayed for the entire Choral Belle spectacle woke up at some point or another during my performance. A few were still snoring when we turned off the lights.
Scott F. Guinn
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"Great Scott!" aka "Palms of Putty" & "Poof Daddy G"
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Were you there the next night for "the Choral Dumb-Belles?"
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Whit Haydn
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No. Thank, God. Smile
Pete Biro
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I was not MCing, but a company I was working for put on an event for Vintage Race Cars in Palm Springs. They hired a very famous journalist, who had been around forever.

He was (and still is, at 84) a great and funny guy.

However, he was asked to talk a little about his life and the old cars... etc....

Well he went on and on and on and on and... and was up to about 1960....

I was off to the side in the audience. My boss grabbed me and said, "We have to stop him somehow, there is another event starting in a minute in the next room, and the way he's going he'll do another hour."

I told him, "You really want him to stop?" Boss said, "Absolutely."

I just walked backstage, then out onto the stage, walked up to him, put my arm around him leaned into the mike and said, "Folks, isn't Chris great? ... Chris, we have to go to the next event, will you come back next year and finish your story?"

Heheheheh... hey it worked. Smile
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Whit Haydn
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Great story, Pete. But try that with thirty 70 year olds armed with parasols.
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