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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Step right up! » » Pitching in Character kinda like buskers do..? (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Frosty
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Texas
139 Posts

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I was out working a small wild hog festival this Saturday... Paid only 40 bucks for privilege and did much better than expected for a small venue and it was over even before it got dark! Next day on Sunday I was arriving to another venue that I hit often and as I was driving in, low and behold there was Jimmy Talksalot having a smoke in the backlot... I quickly pulled over and called him out.. We crossed a few words as I told him about the festival I worked the day before. Our conversation was very short then Jimmy"s last words was "Let's go make some money!" And that we did as we both went our own ways... I'm sure most here know who Jimmy Talksalot is right..? Well if ya don't., Let me tell ya in a bit..!

 I quickly set up my joint then started pitching my wares and had some decent tips and turns most of the day but did a little less than the day before... later during the day I heard some banging at a short distance. There was Jimmy banging his wand on the ground and in no time a huge crowd appeared as if by magic..!

Now here I am working my tip using 2 PA speakers and a large 8 foot banner and my joint to help me build a tip and this guy was able to build a huge tip using no flash and no PA speakers and not even a table plus all his props were in what appears to be a very small bag.. Ok, he did have a sign that said magic show but it was a small sheet of paper or board...

Now I've worked plenty festival and events and I have seen many performers build huge tips but they all used amplification, a table, fire, or large props or something... but Jimmy did this way different! He did this with almost nothing... Just truly AMAZING!

I wasn't able to stay for long cuz I had to get back to working my joint but I did take a few pics...

I know Jimmy is a living legend at busking but I was determined to learn why his method of building a tip worked so well. I mean common, he had no flash and not much of anyything else right..? Well this kept bugging my head all day and then a light bulb turned on from inside my little brain...!

I GOT IT...!

HE HIMSELF IS THE FLASH! Yup! I also do understand he used the sound he created with the wand and his speil but just look at him.. his character sticks out like a flame in the dark, and you clearly know something amazing is gonna come out from him...! He is super skilled at busking but I believe his look is also an addition to his success... He wears a hat and clothing that appears he just travelled through time from the past... JUST AMAZING!

Anyways I  know most pitchmen don't dress up in character mode... Just take a look at Don Driver, David Walker and many others..

But I was thinking it might be great to add flash to yourself by dressing up as a character while pitching magic tricks .. Take a look at Warpo and his attire... he looks really slick! And it works great for him.. Also many old pitchmen did dress up back in them days at least with a vintage looking hat even after the general public weren't using them hat's anymore...

What do y'all think? Any experiences, thoughts, advice or? I know I'm going little to long on this post but wanna hear what others think and also would wanna know where do these buskers buy their attire, hat's and so on...?
I'm not trying to copy anyone's style just wanna create a character of my own that fits myself... I'm having thoughts of giving it a try!

Oh! BTW...! Most here don't know but Jimmy Talksalot also used ta pitch slum tricks back in them days with the best of the best of them..
Yup! I'm pretty sure he can run circles around me if he got the itch to try it again.. LOL!

He truly is amazing! This is the second time we have run into each other...

So the question is TO BE OR NOT TO BE dressing up in character...?
LeoH
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Hi Frosty!

If I am booked to perform our flea circus at an event, I'll be in costume when pitching the decks (I try to negotiate a free or marked down fee for the vendor space when we are finalizing the fee); This allows me to do a "BOR sales pitch" at the close of the circus and invite people to our booth to see a demo of the deck.

If we are pitching only, I wear regular street clothes. I asked Don about this. He told me that you wanted to appear to be a "regular Joe", that if you dressed like an entertainer/magician, the public would think you could do the tricks because you were a "magician" and that they would not be able to work the deck like you do. Of course, you could give it a go and see what happens and make a decision based on sales.

Congrats on your early season success! I'll be at the area "flea" next month, then our 1st outdoor event the first weekend in May. Can't wait!
sethb
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The Jersey Shore
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I think I agree with Leo about this. Jimmy's costume works because he is selling himself as a magician, and his money comes as tips for his magic show. But when someone is pitching decks or worms, they are selling tricks, which is a whole different ball game. In a pitch, you need to convey the idea that the specs can do the trick. That's why it's always important to say things like "the deck does all the work for you." Otherwise, they may be reluctant to buy.

While it's very important to have the pitch down pat, and be graceful and smooth with your demos, its' also true that you want to look like a regular person, and not like a skilled magician. About the only thing I'd suggest to embellish your appearance is to roll your sleeves up to about the mid-forearm. This focuses attention on your hands, without saying anything or making a big deal out of it. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Frosty
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Texas
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Thanks for your feedback Seth and Leo...! I think you guys are right! I too remember reading an old post where Don Driver said to be a pitchman and not a magician.. I might still try just using a fedora hat or something (if I can find one that I like) just to look a little sharper.. I have never dressed up for pitching in costume.. I just wear jeans and a shirt with my sleeves rolled up just like Seth mentioned..
Frosty
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Texas
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Hey LeoH, thanks for the congrats!

I've always wanted to see a real life flea circus.. I've read about them, seen them on videos and have been to events where they've had them but I have never been able actually witness one... Anyways best to you on your circus and pitches!

Please let us know how your pitch went being all dressed up..
Frosty
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Texas
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Here's a pic of Jimmy I took last year... you can kinda see his small sign on the ground with his bag behind it.. (I had to resize to a smaller file to upload here so it's kinda blury..)

The pics I took last weekend were actually a video clip which lasted only around 30 seconds.. and in it he had them laughing, screaming, and clapping most of the time... If I can only figure out how to upload video here.. LOL!

Click here to view attached image.
The Cardfather
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Long Beach, CA
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I agree, Don posted a video of a guy feet from the gutter doing the magic mouse pitch dressed like a slob and doing quite well. That's when it first hit me, the tip would think "if he can do it then I could too."
ringmaster
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Memphis, Down in Dixie
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Do your best imitation of Jimmy.
Remember, slightly less than two present of all UFO sightings turn out to be actual extraterrestrial craft.
Borrow three wide brimmed felt hats from the audience.
Dr. Harlan Tarbell
Frosty
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Texas
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2 weeks ago I wore a bowler hat while pitching for one day at a country fair and on the next day I pitched dressed normal without a hat...

I didn't see any difference in sales..
Riley
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Darlington UK
872 Posts

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I wear a "pork pie" hat, and when performing with the worm I remove the hat, throw the worm into it and let it run around by revolving the hat... Smile

(thank you Mark Lewis)
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