Cruise ship material

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Postby Guest » 08/19/02 02:28 PM

I'm in the middle of putting together a cruise-ship promo videotape. Recently, I read elsewhere on this BB that mentalism is considered by the cruise ships to be cheesy.

Most of my show is magic, but I was planning on putting a couple of mentalism effects in the middle of the tape. Should I just flush the whole mentalism section? Anybody have any more insight into this subject?
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Postby Robert Kane » 08/19/02 03:10 PM

Dear David:

Ron Wilson would be one of the best persons to comment on this since he is one of the top talent agents booking magicians for cruise line work.

You should also consider contacting cruise ship greats like Mark Haslem, Harry Maurer, Fred Becker & Johnny Thompson to get their thoughts. They have a deep understanding of what works well on cruise ships as opposed to what works in the rest of the world.

However, having worked in the Entertainment side of the cruise industry as well as the operational management side, I can say that in general most Entertainment Managers/Directors that I worked with tended to shy away from mentalism acts because they were seen as tedious, boring and yes, cheezy.

Most cruise ship guests want very lively, somewhat flashy, positive "Happy Smiles" entertainment. Very few mentalists fit that description. Indeed, most of the mental acts I have seen are a bit slow and would not work well in the cruise ship environment. Hypnotists were also avoided like the plague...at least by the two cruise lines for which I worked for 14 years.

Certainly, many of the top magic performers who sailed with us used a few mental magic/mentalism bits (I particulary remember the fine work of Johnny Thompson and Vic Kirk), but no act was completely devoted to mentalism/mental magic.

I would not flush the whole mentalism section, but I would make sure it was lively, well-paced, mysterious and very entertaining. Also, avoid any piece that would potentially embarrass or upset a guest. One serious complaint from a guest and you are finished...typically industry wide. Also, never use any jokes or bits that comment or make light of race, sexual orientation, religion or politics. I remember a few acts that were blacklisted for using such things.

The above comments are simply my opinion based on my experience. The cruise industry is big and I am sure that there other good folks with different and equally valid opinions on the subject.

Hope mine helps. Regards, Robert :)
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Postby Pete Biro » 08/21/02 08:17 AM

Take out the mentalism and do "Topsy Turvy Life Rafts." :D
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Postby David Acer » 08/21/02 09:10 PM

Cruise ship work always struck me as being a bit of a double-edged sword. The money is nice, and of course, its regular work, but I imagine its hard to whitewash your act so completely that no single part of it could possibly offend anyone (and you would be astonished at where people can find "offense") without losing a degree of edge that is required for an entertainer to actually affect an audience. I concede, of course, that cruise ship audiences arent there to be "affected," but Ive always felt that one would have to sell at least a little bit of ones soul to be successful in the medium, and I wonder if the price isnt too high?
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Postby Guest » 08/22/02 01:07 AM

Originally posted by David Acer:
Cruise ship work always struck me as being a bit of a double-edged sword....I imagine its hard to whitewash your act so completely that no single part of it could possibly offend anyone ....Ive always felt that one would have to sell at least a little bit of ones soul to be successful in the medium, and I wonder if the price isnt too high?
I concede there's a degree of truth to what you say, but I think that depends on what your edge is.

I've seen your brilliant act, and I have never forgotten how wholeheartedly and aggressively you hugged that staid 55-year-old man in the front row. I have rarely laughed so hard in my life.

However, I do think that there's quite a bit more transgression in your persona than there is in mine. That's a lot of what makes you so damned funny.

What makes me funny, entertaining, and likable is something else entirely.

I do agree that cruise ships require lots of consensus, but then, what about the tyranny of the corporate and trade-show market? What about the tyranny of working for Disney World? I witnessed firsthand the multitudinous ways in which one could offend on Amtrak, since I worked 65 four-day Amtrak trips over four years.

If you work comedy clubs, which I suspect you do, that probably gives you the most latitude of any venue except, perhaps, the street.

I currently work the street five days a week, though, and I hardly need any of that latitude! How might I insult? Sometimes, I say: "Kids, if your parents don't put a couple dollars into the hat, that means they don't love you!" But recently, I've begun cutting that out because it doesn't fit my persona.

Some of us need latitude and some of us don't.
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Postby David Acer » 08/22/02 11:24 AM

Hi David,

First of all, thank you for the extremely kind words, and secondly, thanks for the alternate perspective. What you say makes a lot of sense.
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