Performing for Obnoxious Twats
I read a while back that Michael MacIntyre cancelled a gig when he found out he was supposed to be performing for a firm of debt-collectors.
Now, to be honest I don’t find him very funny. But I did respect that he cancelled a £28K gig because he remembered all too well what it was like to be in financial difficulties.
He put his integrity over his business.
When I read this, I asked myself: where would I draw the line?
What bookings -if any- would I turn down on grounds of conscience?
How do I even know what my client’s beliefs are?
Performing For Political Parties
First, and easiest, somebody from a party organization wants to book me.
If the local Labour or Conservative party made enquiries for their Christmas party, I would know their perspective on economic and social issue.
I have my own political beliefs and am a member of a political party.
So, would I work for the oppo?
Probably not, as I might find the prolonged contact with people with diametrically opposed views to mine too much to handle.
But, let’s face it everybody has their price and for the right fee I could be persuaded!
Of course, if the sole purpose of the political party is fostering prejudice, hate and discrimination, under no circumstances would I take a booking.
Performing for Pressure Groups
Then there are political groups that are not party political. This covers pressure groups such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, for example.
If I felt in favour or neutral about their campaign, I would be happy to entertain.
If it was campaigning for something, I profoundly disagreed with eg restoring the death penalty (which I abhor) then I couldn’t take the job and still look my face in the mirror.
Performing for Religious Groups
Next are religious groups. I am an atheist but have no quarrel with those who are believers. I know some people may the blame of many of the world’s woes at the feet of religion. And it must bear some responsibility. However, religion has provided solace and inspiration to mankind through history.
So, yes, I would be happy to entertain at a function organised by a religious group. Indeed, I have performed at parties celebrating religious events such as Bar Mitzvahs and Christenings.
Actually, as it happens, my first paid booking was a Bar Mitzvah.
Performing for Obnoxious Twats
But what about situations where guests that I am entertaining say things that are unkind, be it about race, creed, gender or sexual orientation?
Luckily, this hasn’t happened to me so far.
But thinking about how I would (should) react, well I feel I just have to hold my peace.
One of the reasons I give for booking a magician in the first place is that we enhance the smooth running of the party and the guests’ entertainment. My job is to make parties work well, so any conflict with a guest is a ‘no no’ for me. I don’t need by booker needing to intervene in a stand-up row about gay marriage.
How could I deal with it?
Catch the eye of the other guests and hope they challenge the behaviour.
Just finish the trick as quickly as possible and then move on to other guests.
Break my cardinal rule of never embarrassing a guest and perform a trick in a way that makes them look foolish.
Or maybe, at least in my daydreams, take the high moral route, confront the guest and bugger the consequences .
A bit like Woody Allen, facing a choice between betraying a friend or going to gaol does so magnificently:
Fellas… I don’t recognize the right of this committee to ask me these kind of questions. And furthermore, you can all go fuck yourselves.
You can watch it HERE.
Who hasn’t dreamt of saying that to a difficult client or boss?