Earlier this week I was the emcee of a fundraiser.
Like many fundraisers, it was an assembly of hundreds of exceedingly nice people, paying dearly to spend their evening wearing nice clothes in a public celebration of a good organization. That’s so nice.
Anyway, halfway through the program, it was time for the Liturgical Dance. That’s what my script said. So I mispronounced a long list of dancers names and out they came, taking their places at the front of the room.
Then: nothing. No music, no dance.
After about 25 seconds, which in this type of situation feels much, much longer, the audience turned to me. Up until this moment, I’d been an affable and helpful emcee.
I turned my head to look backstage. I saw professionals messing with the sound system. So, I knew that music was on its way.
But, still: nothing. Dancers frozen in place. Lots of people looking at the guy in the bow tie. Awkward.
So, I stepped forward and tried to resolve the awkwardness. I said: “Perhaps now is a good time to remember Marcel Marceau.”
Funny, huh? Apparently not. Crickets. One guy in back laughed. That means that everyone heard it and only one guy laughed. Aye-yi-yi.
[Technical explanation for joke: Marcel Marceau is the world’s most famous mime. Mime is based on silent performance. Marceau died this week. Remembering Marceau now would normally be appropriate, because most people have seen his picture or read his obituary this week. The lack of sound for the Liturgical Dance might make any reference to Marcel Marceau funny.]
I slunk back, saying, “Maybe not.”
The reaction was as loud as Marcel Marceau’s mime act.
Eventually, the music came on and the dancers were fabulous.
By the way, there is an email going around with his obituary on it. Someone has added a false last sentence: “Marceau died of asphyxiation when he was trapped in a small, invisible box.” That’s not true and probably not tasteful, but it is funny. [I refuse to explain it.]