A review of a San Diego eatery complains about the strolling magician and talks about his good nature as he was encouraged to leave the table alone.
"My biggest complaint? ...I really just want to eat dinner and have a conversation with my companions when I go out to eat. I don't need table-side entertainment," says the review. "...Ours wandered up to our table, like some overly nonchalant Jehovah's Witness, innocently asking about the Pimm's Cup I was hiding behind. Fortunately, he was a good sport about us taunting and shooing him away."
The review was followed by a letter to the editor from someone who enjoys the restaurant's magic. "I specifically go to the O'Bistro to see him perform," says the patron. "I understand that Jenny may not like table-side entertainment. But how can she slam the poor guy without even watching his performance? All she had to do was turn around and see the next people he engaged. He amazes nearly everyone there and brings many smiles to many faces."
Rejection is an inherent part of performing in restaurants, and this is regardless of how entertaining or good you are. The magician took the tack that I would have in not pursuing a table that did not appear to be interested. I see both sides. Some parties, as was the reviewer's, are at a restaurant for the conversation and don't care for intrusions. But I sense from the tone that the reviewer doesn't care for magic and/or thinks it's only for unsophisticated audiences.
I know that in an evening of performing, I can create a memorable moment for a party. Groups come back later, sometimes after a couple of years, and tell me how much fun they had and can even tell me what tricks I did (which helps me to do other items the second time around). However, it's not unusual to encounter groups who won't allow the opportunity to sample a bit of magic.
Generally, I think that those who don't want to see magic fall into three groups (this is beyond being involved in a serious conversation): 1) those who have seen a horrible magician and classify all magicians as bad; 2) those who have been abused and insulted by a magician or witnessed someone being humiliated by a magician and want no part of it and 3) religious types who assume for some reason that I am in league with the devil (I have actually had a patron say that she was going to pray for my soul).
I'm not whining here. It's simply the way things are. At each table, I only ask for the privilege of an open mind and an opportunity to perform, and I know from experience that I can often leave a magic-skeptical group laughing, amazed and entertained.
I'd like to know the magician who performs at O'Bistro in San Diego. If you know, please email me. Perhaps I can do an interesting follow-up, one restaurant worker to another (and I've been in his shoes, "shooed" away as well).
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