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?