I'm very specific when I'm booked. Period. Sometimes when you bend to the needs of the venue, you lose all respect that you can have.
I will generally work with people as far as I can, but if I'm booked into a venue, I do my act. At my prices, there is virtually no chance that I will be booked into a situation where I have to perform for an audience that is entirely children, in any case. I don't just qualify my clients for price, I qualify them for audience.
If there is ANY chance that my material is not suitable for their group or venue, I have two other excellent magicians I use for these shows.
There are certain things that I am totally inflexible about.
For example, if I am working a banquet show, I must have a riser 12 feet deep by 18 feet wide, by 2 feet high.
There are to be NO balloon sculptures, potted plants, or other decorations on the front edge of the riser that obstruct the view of the audience.
There are to be NO ice sculptures on the stage.
You might wonder about that one. I was booked to do a show for AT&T several years ago. They had a beautiful ice sculpture in the lobby. The person in charge of the show decided that it looked so good, she wanted it on the riser. So she had the waitstaff bring it on stage. While I was working the tables, the ice sculpture melted and ruined some of the props I had stashed under the table she placed the ice sculpture on.
I added another one after I booked Ted Lesley in for a special benefit for the Parkinson's Foundation. Since most of the time, I arrive at the venue in my performing outfit, unless I am doing the Merlin act, I don't need a dressing room. However, Ted's needs are different.
I was informed that Mr. Lesley could change in the men's room. I replied that Mr. Lesley is an internationally famous performer, who had flown in from Berlin, and he does not change in the men's room.
He got a room.
Regarding the Punch and Judy incident -- Punch and Judy is terribly misunderstood by most people who hire puppeteers. It's a morality play. It's about a man who is so violent and evil that the Devil throws him out of Hell. And in that context, and the context of authenticity, it should not be changed. However, it should not be shown to children who are sitting by themselves in front of the puppet theater. Parents need to be able to explain this show to their kids. It's not a kid show.
When one of the local restaurants decided they wanted to have children's entertainment on Sundays, they asked me to do a magic show for them, followed by a Punch and Judy show. I asked the fellow who owned the place if he had actually SEEN a Punch and Judy show.
"Of course! I want Punch and Judy."
I asked him three times, knowing in my heart of hearts that he wouldn't know a Punch and Judy show from a Mongomery Ward's catalog. So I hired a friend of mine to do the show. He toned it down a bit, but it was still basically a standard P&J show.
We were also supposed to do a second show after a one hour break.
So I did my magic show, and Fred did Punch and Judy. The restaurant owner's eyes got as big as dinner plates. Finally, he rushed out of the place, his face red and steam coming out of his ears.
His assistant manager watched the second show, and looked just as angry.
So, on Tuesday when I came back in to do my regular show there, there was a "go up to the office to see the boss" notice for me. I went upstairs, and there was the boss. He was royally pissed off.
"WHAT WAS THAT CRAP THAT PUPPETEER DID?"
"It was Punch and Judy."
"AND HE DID THE SAME THING ON THE SECOND SHOW!"
"That's right. There's only one Punch and Judy script. It's a morality play. It goes back to the 14th century or maybe before that."
"WHY IN THE HELL DID YOU HAVE HIM DO THAT CRAP?"
"If you will remember, I asked you three times if you knew what a Punch and Judy show was. You said you did. I supplied exactly what you asked for."
"oh...well, I thought it was something like Kukla, Fran and Ollie."
then he added:
"You should have known better. You know what kind of clientele we have here."
"That's true. I do know better. But you insisted that you wanted Punch and Judy. That's why you got it."
"Well, get me a different puppet show for this weekend then."