Fly, My Dove! Fly!
EVERY PERFORMER HOPES to “kill ‘em” while on stage, but it is inevitable that some nights they will “die.” EVERY performer dies at some time. Those that say they have never died onstage, are liars. This is about a particularly lethal night onstage. Let me explain.
It was a corporate gig in San Jose. A Dot Com company was celebrating something or other and had rented the Ballroom of a large hotel and hired a bunch of performers to entertain. There were Musicians, Comedians, a Magician, and an Improv Group. I was there as part of “Anchovi Daiquiri,” an Improvisation Comedy Act.
All of the performers were penned up in a couple of hotel rooms to dress and prepare to go onstage. We could watch the show on a large monitor in one room.
Every performer was experienced and had a polished act. The only newbie was the “Lovely Assistant” being used by the magician. Her job was to look good onstage and to help the magician with all of his illusions. Part of that involved stuffing his costume jacket with all of the items that he would later magically pull out of thin air – scarves, flowers, balls, flaming torches, and a flock of doves.
The singers went on first, then a couple of comedians, to be followed by the magician. We were to be the closing act. We were going to construct a 45 minute show from audience suggestions and be the highlight of the evening. It didn’t work out that way.
The new “Lovely Assistant” hired by the magician had done her job. She filled up his costume jacket and then got dressed in her outfit, ready to hit the stage. We all watched them on the monitor. They were doing well. The scarves, bouquets and other junk flew out of the jacket and the audience cheered and applauded. When he got to the climax of his act – well, that was when things didn’t go so well.
The magician waved his magic wand, said the magic words and launched one of his doves into the spotlight. It didn’t stay there very long.
It soon became apparent to everyone, and I mean everyone, that his training of the new “Lovely Assistant” was not as thorough as it should have been.
The magician had failed to tell her that, when loading the doves into his jacket, it was important – no, vital, that they be inserted tail first.
When he tossed that dove into the air it fell straight down and hit the stage with a sickening thump. The magician was working quickly and started flinging doves left and right. The audience fell silent as he threw one dead bird after another into the air.
What can you do when your act is laying dead on the stage in front of you? The magician chose to scream and chase his, now crying, Lovely Assistant from the stage, threatening to kill her just like she had killed his doves by loading them head first into his jacket.
Backstage we were trying hard to not laugh as they came into the room. The magician had to be restrained. Onstage, with the audience murmuring, someone was picking up the dead birds.
We were now supposed to go out and make the audience laugh. Thanks a bunch.
We went on. We did our job, but it was like trying to crack mother-in-law jokes at the scene of a domestic murder-suicide.
I do have to admit that it was the first time I ever saw an act both “kill” and “die” at the same time.
What? And give up Showbiz?