Monday, March 16, 2009

Split Decision on Fator

The morning paper featured an interesting contrast on the Terry Fator premiere on Saturday. On the front page, the Review-Journal's Doug Elfman offered a baffling declaration of the consensus of the "elite" crowd in attendance that the show was a knockout. Baffling, that is, because he and I were in the same room and I heard largely uneven responses. I would never pretend to speak for an entire audience -- especially one biased by free tickets and booze -- but Elfman chose to do so.

Elfman's sample was also tainted by natural human behavior. I've always found if you encounter a friend effusively happy about a performance, you tend not to want to disabuse them of their pleasure. It's awkward. Why would anyone want to take away another person's satisfaction? I had precisely that experience on Saturday with my friend Dave Berns, host of KNPR's "State of Nevada," who started the discussion with something like, "Wasn't that great?" Because I have no reflex for being polite, the best I could answer was, "Uh, it was OK." I recovered quickly by saying Fator fits a viable demographic of which I am not a member, a statement I do believe.

But an opening-night party didn't feel like an appropriate forum to start a debate over the merits of different bits I disliked so I, like some Elfman may have chatted up, chose not to expound on how hackneyed the Michael Jackson stuff was or how out of place the Obama attacks seemed. Most people stifle their own displeasure altogether and respond to those who enjoyed themselves with a smile and something like, "Yes, he's very talented." (Note to Berns: It could be some interesting radio to bring me and Elfman on KNPR to debate the show. Could be a fun regular segment when new shows open.)

It's also clear Elfman does not count me or Las Vegas Sun reviewer Joe Brown among the "elites." Brown's review was more mixed and hit many of the same points I did in my VegasHappensHere.Com post yesterday. It's one of those funny RJ-Sun moments when the front page says "Everyone who matters loves it!" and the Sun's headline says, "Mixed impressions!"

One thing everyone agreed about and felt the need to state -- including me yesterday -- is that Fator is a swell fellow who has been incredibly engaging to the media. And that approach has earned him an inclination among even those of us who had criticism to make some allowances and give him a chance.

And so, a thought: How might the Criss Angel experience have gone differently had he come across as friendly, humble and accessible rather than the Second Coming of Harry Houdini? If he seemed sincerely earnest to answer questions from the public's proxies as honestly as possible rather than threatening local columnists with violence or using his dating life as a fame-enhancer? How might it have gone had he not been given to outlandish, easily disproved boasts about his greatness, innovation and boffo sales? Would we have been more forgiving or patient when his show finally opened?


Brian Fey said...

I'll be seeing both of these shows, in a few weeks. I've heard mostly good about Fator, but many, many mixed reviews on Believe, in fact. I'm not even sure I've heard much mixed, most people say Believe is just plain bad. I am not a Criss Angel fan, but I am a fan of CDS and magic shows. I never trust a review, and want to go experience both of them, so I can make up my own mind. I am trying to go into both with a blank and open mind. I'm very excited to see both.

Anonymous said...

Even before Criss Angel starting making enemies all over town, I sensed "Cirque fatigue" in the air. The biggest applause on Bette Midler's opening night came when she said of her supporting cast, "Not one of them is a French-Canadian circus performer!" Cirque was overdue for a flop and C.F. Angel merely amplified the "Thud!", IMO.

David McKee

H.Peter said...

Re.: Criss Angel. An old saying in Europe: "Arrogance is a shield for sensitive people",
Maybe not the best excuse for his attitude, but a small window out to explain himself? After the train crash.

Anonymous said...

The BEST part is Holly Madison is out of Vegas doing her Dancing w/the D-List Stars CRAP - so we don't have to sit through NIGHT AFTER NIGHT of Criss mentioning her in his show - it was soooooo boring!

The WORST part is - I don't believe these 2 are "broken up" for a second - she is TEMPORARILY out of Vegas, doing her D-list dancing show, but she WILL be back in Vegas, hanging all over Criss' -MARK MY WORDS! There will be some "OH WE COULDN'T LIVE WITHOUT EACH OTHER CRAP" printed - and bam, they will be back on!

Don't forget, he IS a mindfreak!