I was up at the crack of dawn today as the jet lag just won’t give up. Our hotel is now full of guests and the heat has been turned on so I took a warm shower and headed down for another delicious English Breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised to find Obie O’brien and Joan Caesar in the breakfast room and had a great chat before dining on some eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, toast and fried tomato!
I decide to drop by the Vendor booth and see if anyone was really interested in visiting me. Wow! What a fun day it was hanging out at the booth. I am really happy to have the booth as so many people came by to compliment me on my lecture and to purchase lecture packages. Most had wanted to buy them the night before but had been shoved out of the room by security. I spent most of the morning in the booth. I have never had a booth before so the idea of demonstrating my magic and selling it was really quite foreign to me. My friend, Simon, on the other hand is quite the sales man and basically did everything for me while I just hung out and played! Fun!
In the afternoon I was expected to perform for a VIP close up show. This time someone actually came to talk to me about the show and I really wish I had gotten his name as he was super nice. In the room I met Bob Wooding who was a gracious host and made me feel very comfortable before my performance. The room was large and so was the crowd but with the aid of the video and a microphone it was a great show. I was especially pleased and surprised by the rapturous round of applause at the commencement of my act. All in all the best event I had at the convention as it was without incident. But there was still the evening show and that was “Craptacular”!
I spent a bit more time in the booth and then headed back to “Chez Gresham” to prepare for the evening gala/competition of the UK vs the World. As I had said early in this blog if I had know it was going to be billed as a contest I would never have agreed to perform. But I am a man of my word so I loaded up my gear to present “Shape of my Heart”.
Had I known what and ass Stu Francis was going be as the compere (master of ceremonies) for the evening I would have never have even gone to the show let alone be a part of a 4 and half hour production! I can only say that I knew it was not going well when I indicated to the gentleman that the act on stage, Raphael, was ending and it was time for him to “take off the act” and he responded by running over to a grand piano off far stage left and proceeded to change his shirt! Yes, change his shirt! By the time he had done his quick change the act had already left the stage to no farewell bow … what a joke. I had noticed earlier how he was presenting acts so I had already taken time to direct him on how to introduce me and my act. I think it is rather simple to just say “Please welcome 3 time FISM award winner from Canada … Shawn Farquhar”. Go ahead try it … I’ll wait. No really try it! See it wasn’t hard at all was it? Well Mr. “it’s all about me” Francis went out on the stage and started chatting up my Wife on stage and then forgot what to say so he returned to stage left and asked Lori what he was supposed to say. Yes you read that right. Then came the crowning moment for me that told me just how much I was loved … he introduced me as Derrick … then corrected himself and called me David!
I was so embarrassed and angry at the same time. Who hired this unprofessional clown to host a gala at the world’s largest magic convention? What were they thinking? I did my act but to be honest I just wasn’t “in the moment” and just went through the actions and I am sure many of the 3500 audience members would agree. I am so sorry I could not shake the feeling … I just have never been treated like this before … anywhere.
For a full review of the show you can visit Naquada’s blog or Tim Ellis’s blog which has been written by Craig Mitchell of the College of Magic in Capetown, South Africa.
Well I didn’t get to my vendors booth all day. I had some fun trying to get registered for the convention. Turns out the organizers mailed the package to my house in Canada. Those of you who know me, know my house is not exactly the place I often visit! So without a package I asked the charming ladies of the registration counter to perhaps get me a badge and tickets so I could start enjoying the convention. They were very nice and tried their best to find out anything but after an hour of waiting I went in search of additional help.
I headed over to the VIP desk, but they told me I was just a performer and the other desk would look after me. Back I went to meet Arthur Casson, the convention registration chairman. I told him my name was Shawn Farquhar and that they did not seem to have a package for me. His reply was that the package was mailed and if I didn’t have it then I would most likely be without tickets to the Sunday Gala. He gave me tickets to the Saturday Gala and I told him I wouldn’t need those as it was my understanding I was on the Saturday evening show. His reply, “oh you’re performing here?”. I have never felt so much love. Now with badge in hand I headed off to the hotel to take a nap as the event up to now had been quite stressful and I had just a few hours before I had to lecture.
I was an hour into my “jet lag” induced nap when the front desk called my room to tell me I was late for my “stage act rehearsal” in the Opera House. I am never late for a rehearsal and besides he show isn’t until tomorrow night so why would they need to rehearse today? Turns out I was late for a rehearsal. I was later to find out someone just left a note on the chair of my vendors booth earlier in the day with a schedule of rehearsals …
The rehearsal was quick and to the point and the crew of the theatre and club members backstage were outstanding. I was less than totally coherent during the run through as I was still half asleep. I did however get the understanding that the Saturday Gala was billed as a competition of the UK vs the World. What an odd idea for a gala. If I had known it was going to be billed as a competition I would not have agreed to perform.
Now with that out of the way I headed back to the fabulous Gresham Hotel to prepare for my evening lecture. I was even more thrilled to hear my event was up against the British Close Up Championship. This I felt meant I would have a very small audience and not much exposure for my magic.
I was so wrong… My lecture was standing room only with people out in the hall ways looking in to see what all the fuss was about. I was only given an hour to lecture and the traditional 30 minutes to sell following. I had a great group of tech working for me and the video projector they set up made the lecture perfect. I always travel with my own projector and camera but having professional working their own made it “Easy”. My lecture last 1 hour and one minute and they really seemed to like the stuff. I wish I could have done everything and explained things better but I just didn’t have enough time. I think the organizers should seriously consider extending lecture to 90 minutes to allow for better explanations and more material to be covered. As I said my thanks and left the stage the table where Lori and Simon were standing was mobbed and my effects were being snatched up very fast. I tried to make my way to the crowd and got stuck signing autographs and taking photo’s. I love this part of my job. That people like my magic is the true mark of my success. I would love to have basked in the moment but 10 minutes into it the security guard started shouting that everyone had to leave now. Within 13 minutes of finishing my lecture everyone was out of the hall and I was even in the hallway with out my lecture material. I explained I needed to get back in to get my stuff and the security guard was annoyed as he was in a hurry to be done. What a glorious way to end my first day at the Blackpool Convention.
Another persons opinon of my lecture can be found at this blog by Naquada. Don’t be thrown off that he begins by calling me Steve. Calling me names other than Shawn became a theme of this convention ….