Auditioning acts for Television had a success rate of about 300 to 1. Not every session could produce a Shona Laing or Bulldogs All Star Goodtime Band, and although my musical director and I treated everyone with courtesy, our patience was pretty stretched by day’s or week’s end!
However, occasionally an act walked through the door, and though unsuccessful as television talent, was never forgotten.
It was a disappointing and painful afternoon in Christchurch when a middle-aged man fronted up looking extremely nervous and not carrying any instrument. He told us he had driven from the West Coast and had never before performed in public.
“And what do you do?” I asked.
He didn’t answer but pulled from his pocket a carrot hollowed out with finger holes and a sax mouthpiece jammed in one end. He began playing and I glanced over to my MD (Garth Young) whose face betrayed this act was adding to his experience of 35 years as a professional musician.
I should have known better – or perhaps just felt sorry for him – but I made the mistake of enquiring if he had another number?
From his other pocket he produced a parsnip. Struggling with mirth I almost burst but there was more. He put both the carrot and the parsnip in his mouth and ‘played’ the melody on one ‘instrument’ and the harmony on the other.
Now many of you reading this would argue he deserved to be seen on Television, and perhaps you are right. But I didn’t give him a chance, and the decision in part was due to me noticing what looked like a stick of celery in his back pocket and I would have been unable to talk having collapsed hysterically on the floor!!
“THERE”S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS”