The Show from Hell

About 25 years ago, somebody gave me the following letter, which is one of the funniest I’ve read in the industry. Can anybody tell me who wrote it, or where it was first published?  JRR

Mr. Paul Begosh, Producer
Brightstar Productions
73040 La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angles, CA 90023

Dear Paul:

First, thank you for engaging us to provide AV Rental services for the recent meeting of your client, the Acme Corporation.

I am writing this letter in some haste, in order that you will receive it before you form your own preconceived opinions based upon hysterical calls from the Acme Corporation, for I am certain that they will tend to overdramatise the affair.

I should report to you that the show went flawlessly through the opening module.  At that time, the President of Acme was cued by our stage manager to step to the lectern.  Due to some oversight by the hotel, the entry was incorrectly marked and the President stepped off the stage.

In his surprise, the President unwisely grabbed the drapery, as he was off balance.  You would think the President of a large corporation to have more presence of mind.  Due to our sturdy  construction, the screen did not collapse at this time, although several drapery poles were badly damaged when they hit the lectern.

The stage manager, seeing that the lectern could be easily repaired, called out for a “roll of tape”. Unfortunately, his headset was open, and the sound and video operators quite naturally misinterpreted this command.  This resulted in both walkout music and the slide show track being played at rather high volume.

We did investigate the power problem, and found that a drapery pole, while overturning, had severed the ground connection on the primary power service.  This explains the rather nasty “tickle” experienced by the President when he reached out to adjust the microphone.  When will these people learn not to fiddle with things? Apparently he is nervous around electricity, for he recoiled upstage fairly quickly.  It was this action which caused the screen to fall.

At this point, we believe, the projectionist attempted to arrest the downward motion of the screen onto the projection tower.  This, in my opinion showed great presence of mind.  The screen was probably and momentarily confused him, which would account for his fall.  We plan to ask him when he can have visitors.

Luckily, his fall only knocked off the two center stacks of projectors.  The two side stacks were apparently knocked off by the screen itself.  Locking rings on the carousel trays probably would have helped keep the slides in order, but these were left off due to the client’s insistence on last minute drop-ins.  I wish these people would understand the difficulties this causes us professionals.

The multi-image operator was not injured when the platform overturned.  I fear,  however, that the cable did incur some damage when the stage right stacker fell upon it.  Those projections are heavier than they look.

Up to now, the confusion was largely limited to the backstage area.  We have determined that much of the ensuing excitement was due to the sound man, who was the roommate of the projectionist, a man named Charlie Fryer.

I am frequently amazed by the actions of otherwise clear-headed corporate managers during moments of minor uncertainty.  Seeing the activity backstage, the sound man began calling “Fryer” in order to ascertain the whereabouts of his roommate.  The audience, who should know better than to engage in such mischievous sport, began screaming “FIRE”.

This was clearly in error, as the fire had not yet occurred.  Many members of the audience apparently chose this time to leave the room, presumably to get coffee or use the restroom.  One of them (the paramedics have his name) was both in a hurry and extremely clumsy, for he caught his foot on a lighting cable which was neatly taped across a doorway.

The lighting tree which fell did in fact strike the V.P. of Marketing, but only a glancing blow.  Since the lights were on at the time (after all, we were doing a show) the hot glass on the carpet and drapes apparently contributed to the resulting fire.

I believe your insurance company should get in touch with the hotel, as my crew assures me that extinguisher locations were not clearly marked.  The fire department arrived quickly, once called, but it was through their actions that most of the water damage accrued.

In closing, I want to point out that most  of the unpleasantness associated with this event could have been avoided if the President had maintained his composure.  Even while helping to clean up the disorder, the President subjected our crew to significant verbal abuse.

I am enclosing our invoice for services rendered, as well as an additional invoice for damage suffered due to the negligence of your client.


John Smith
Event Coordinator
Chicago, IL.