I guess at some point in our lives we’ve all had a distant wish we could lead the bohemian life of a stage performer (except perhaps without all the hungry bits!), so I was all ears when a friend stopped past for coffee recently and told me one of the more out-there stories I’ve heard in this area.
Clayton Sinclair is an entrepreneur and entertainer that I’ve known for quite a few years now, and is very much a kind and sincere gentleman. His story took me a long way away from my normal activities that day, so I thought I’d share it here.
I mentioned to Clayton that I’ve been reading the ‘The Click Moment’ by Frans Johansson, and in response he told me that years ago he was asked by an entertainer friend as a desperate favour to stand in as MC for a rock eisteddfod event in Perth.
He said that he had two day’s notice and was very unsure about whether it was a good idea, but in ‘Click Moment’ style said to himself – ‘you just never know what good might come out of it’. (Thanks very much to Ryan Jeffery of Passionate About OSS for the original The Click Moment reference!)
Clayton said that he got there on the Friday and asked for the program, which they didn’t have available – apparently they were too busy to even spend some time with him. He did finally get a sheet of band/performer names just before the show start on Saturday evening, although there were still no details about timings or any other supporting info.
He said that the time came, and he simply had to start the show – fortunately though he’d managed to find a chair and a light to have by the side of the stage where he could at least read the list he’d been given while off-stage.
Clayton is a song, dance & jokes guy from way back and can slip naturally into many different accents & impersonations, so I wasn’t surprised when he said he made it through the first hour easily (I wish I could do that!) By the end of the second hour he said he was starting to run out of gags, and by the end of the third hour he said he was seizing at any opportunity for quips – targeting people getting up & going to the bathroom, what they were wearing, hands up who was from the east or west etc. He said that things got to the stage where he was reprising songs and dance moves from the various performances, not to mention singing standards including from the Sound of Music, and then requesting ‘serious critique’ from the crowd.
Clayton is a very good natured person and knows how to navigate without offending people, all the same I was thinking that as a relatively unknown guy from the east (in the context of a Perth rock event), he was certainly putting himself out there.
Apparently there were between five and ten minutes of tear down and setup time between each act, during which the curtain would fall and it was Clayton up there alone with more than five hundred people in the auditorium – also TV cameras rolling (I think he said think for a community channel), and no ‘organisers’ in sight anywhere.
He told the story and said that when it was all finished (after five hours !!), he’d lost any doubt about whether he was capable of getting past his fear boundaries.
After Clayton left I wondered whether perhaps the punters may have been happy with just a few words and silence between bands? Maybe the sound guys could have thrown in some canned music? (But surely they would have told him in advance?!)
In the moment though, Clayton decided to go into professional mode and turn it into something that was up to his own expectations.
It definitely sounds like Perth got the full ‘Claytonesque’ experience that night (Clayton’s company name on LinkedIn).
I understand that a seasoned MC can stand in with little or no notice, particularly in a context that they’re well suited to. In the ICT world I’ve seen some incredibly good presentations over the years that looked effortless – ones that I’d very much like to be able to match.
Hopefully though in unexpected or less than comfortable circumstances, any of us would attempt to respond like Clayton and just keep going all the way.
Sometimes stories like this don’t get heard, I thought that this one was worth the time – thanks very much again Clayton for a great story!
With each blog entry I’m attempting to include some kind of interesting reference material that may or may not be related to B/OSS – in this entry I’m already way off track, so I might as well keep going. Talking about performers, I thought I’d list a number of very talented ‘Stevens’ that I’ve come across here in Australia. Each of these guys has a unique and interesting story of their own that comes through in their music – here are some quick teasers in case you haven’t heard of them:
(Sorry – looks like I wound up with four!)