Magicians are really dare devils. They take chances all the time. They work with liquids that can spill, live animals that might not co-operate, assistants that may get it wrong, equipment that can fail, and the list goes on.
Of course faux pas are not exclusive to magicians. As I mentioned before Phil Matlin, owner of Perfect Magic is a professional musician, who has directed musical plays in his younger days and now is a well known nostalgia and ragtime piano player. He does shows all the time. He entertains at parties, fundraisers, gala shows, senior citizens groups and the people all love him. About 10 or 15 years ago he was asked for the first time to play at the Ragtime-Jasstime Festival that takes place every year in Alexandra Bay in 1000 Islands, New York. He was all excited about it as it was an honor to be asked. There are 2 venues in the hotel. One is a formal setting with tables and chairs like a night club with a big stage. The other venue is more a saloon type setting. Both are going at the same time. The saloon is more fun and people love to sing along. Each entertainer gets to play 20 minute sets 6 times during the week-end.
The first time Phil sat down to play, it was in the saloon. Everything was going well and then for some reason he got completely lost. Piano players make mistakes now and then, but they glide right over it, as Phil usually does , but not this time. He was totally lost and after evident struggling he found his way back and finished the song, which he knows inside out and backwards by the way! When he finished he got a polite applause. You know the kind, everyone was feeling so bad for him, including me. He leaned over into the microphone and said, “In case you’re wondering, I learnt that song from a broken record! He brought the house down and it was clear sailing after that! He broke the tension.
As I wrote the above paragraph it dawned on me that some of you younger people may not know what a record is. It was a round flat disc made of vinyl on which most of the music was recorded in the 20th Century and if you scratched it, it would play the same line over and over again.
Many years ago we went to the Place des Arts to see Benny Goodman, the King of Swing! At one point he started playing with his group and after a little while he made them stop in the middle of the piece and said, “Sorry, I didn’t like that. We’ll start over!” Nobody minded.
Romaine, Monarch of Manipulators, who has performed all over the world and is a pro in every sense of the word, did a Halloween show last year and was doing a rope trick and he has a standard line, ” I cut the white and not the pink because the pink fingers.” He uses very sharp scissors and has done this trick hundreds of times but this time, on Halloween, he did indeed start to bleed. He didn’t even know he cut himself and there was blood everywhere. The audience thought it was part of the show. It was Halloween after all. He said, “Anyone got a band-aid? ” His wife Joan rushed over with paper towels and he did mostly vent after that as he couldn’t use his hand very well.
And then there was the time that Phil and Romaine were performing their Vaudeville show, Back In Time. Romaine was doing his manipulation act and Phil was playing the music for it on the piano. Romaine lit a piece of flash paper, unbeknownst to him that the smoke detector was right above him and the alarm went off, both on stage and at the fire station. They went on with the show. Phil continued to play piano although the alarm kept ringing. In a few minutes the fire men came marching in, in full dress with their hoses at the ready. They turned off the alarm and left, but what excitement! We have a good laugh every time we talk about it.
Stuff happens! Care to share your experiences with us? Our readers would love to hear about it.