Lately, more than one person has asked how come I don’t run an events company or consider working in one, seeing as I’ve got the network and the skill at bullshitting.
I did work at an events company. It was an events company that was also a talent agency. I liked some bits of the work, and didn’t like some others. And tonight, I found this which I wrote a while ago:
Very early into my job at the company, I was tasked with the menial chore of compiling on the computer the information from all business cards of all the journalists that one of the directors of the company had met. No mean feat despite the fact that there aren’t that many publications around. Bleary eyed and plugging away, I overheard (speak softly and you tend to be a good eavesdropper) a loud, low but grating voice talking about ‘The Merchant of Venice’. It was a ‘business contact’ talking to one of the directors about the possibility of adapting the play into a local film tentatively (but frightfully) entitled ‘The Merchant of Venice of the East’. The voice continued to speak of the merits of such a project, given the alleged ‘similarities between Jewish and Chinese merchants’. Such a project, he said, would then ‘also sell Singapore as a tourist destination’, and we could thus also ask the Tourism Board for funding.
What amazed me was that my company director entertained this idea and sounded genuinely interested in participating. I should have resigned on the spot, but even more amazingly chose instead to give the company the benefit of doubt.
On hindsight (you can see forever), I realise now that there have been many more dud ideas that don’t even reach half-baked status. Sure there’s a sucker born every minute, but the alarming regularity at which these ideas conceived by the company are actually sold to clients defies comprehension. Take the ‘Shopping King and Queen’ promotion at the Causeway Point Shopping Centre. We ‘conceptualised’ a shopping ‘king and queen’ contest and publicised it over several weekends using ‘silver-painted human statues’ that rode on crowded MRT carriages, inadvertently smearing sweaty silver paint all over trains and commuters alike. Seeing as most carriages are painted silver already, the commuters were the ones that came off second best.
The ‘event’, as the company calls these projects, culminated in a twenty minute ‘stand-up comedy performance’ which, for mine, seemed rather more stand-up than comic, by one of the company directors who happened to also be a ‘celebrity’. What happened was really one snafu after another. The stage area was supposed to be ringed by sets of ‘human statues’ (which, by the way, was meant to symbolise the ‘kings and queens’, although I cannot comprehend why people would use ‘human statues’ instead of statue statues, since the latter can keep still without much effort) before the comedy performance began. Obviously, no one foresaw the delays caused by weekend crowds on the MRT, and that it would take at least an hour for a round trip on the trains from Orchard to Boon Lay and back to Woodlands, whether or not you were a silver painted statue in a silver toga and silver pvc cape.
So, the comedian/director was on stage performing the usual inane prattle to a crowd more interested in the free gifts than in whatever she was saying, and one by one, the zombified statues, looking worse for wear and staining all and sundry silver, dragged themselves to the stage area, where they promptly went into statue mode, and, I swear, started dozing off while standing up. One of the models/statues woke up just in time or he would have fallen on his face and left a silver silhouette print of himself on the floor. He then absent-mindedly rubbed his eyes with his silver painted fingers and blinded himself, but to his credit, still managed to maintain some composure, albeit with tears streaming down his face and threatening his make-up. (I thought it added to the authenticity of the statue, what with the tears looking as if a bird had defecated on his face, something that real statues have to put up with).
Unforeseen (and this should be the company motto) by all in charge of the ‘event’, most of the models/statues were Muslim, and it was halfway through Puasa, and this had to be the hottest afternoon that month. The poor statues were dehydrated, exhausted and famished, and worse, had their collective dignities stripped bare and painted silver.
(The ‘event’ ended in chaos when a member of the audience was hit in the head by a flying free gift thrown by the comedian/director, but that’s another story.)
Philosophers Stone from the album “Wonder Boys [Soundtrack]” by Van Morrison