|Topic: How to make your magic different Part 2|
#2- The courage to try stuff thing. This was frankly the tough part for me. I have never had a problem coming up with my own material. My problem was in believing in it just enough to give it a try! In talking to folks over the years I think that this is probably the biggest hurdle for most.
Here's my approach and it's worked pretty good for about 35 years. Let's say you are working at "making a routine your own". You've come up with what you think is a great patter story. You have added some bits of business, etc. to the routine and you've practiced and rehearsed it. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.....you try it. There are a lot of things that could happen, but basically it comes down to three:
1- The darn thing just rocks. You nailed it! Your audience's reaction tells you everything you need to know. Not only did it rock the first time, but it rocked the second and third. You take in the info offered by your adoring fans and tune that baby until it's as good as it gets. End of story.
2- More likely scenario is that it's just so-so. It's not great, but it's not terrible. It's just kinda blah, but it works. THIS IS WHERE A LOT .... LOT... OF MAGICIANS LET IT STAY!!! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Don't do it. Try for number 1 above. Ah, but you say...tell us Obi-wan...how doth we do it?
Here is where the work comes in. First, you HAVE to watch your audience. You HAVE to learn to listen to what they TELL you about your performance. WHAT are they telling you? Where did they react positively? Where overtly negatively? Where did you seem to lose them?
Look, don't look at a bad or so-so performance as a, well, BAD thing. It's not bad or good. It just IS. But, every performance is filled with information. You have to learn...and it takes practice and ATTENTION....to read the audience. To hear what they have to say to you.
(Note: Mr. Townsend on the Café has suggested that one get a 'director'. Someone to critique and guide you, etc. KILLER idea IF you can find some one. IF you have the money if money is needed, etc. Wonderful idea and I mean that! This essay is for those that just can't do that. Or, it for the time UNTIL you CAN do that!)
In other words YOU are going to be your director. O.k., you have listened. Maybe you have taped your show either just audio or video also. Wonderful. Now, TEAR yourself apart. Look, what you are going to do it problem solve. It's kind of like doing a computer program. You write it. You test it. You trouble shoot it. Well, you did the show and the routine or trick went so-so. WHY??????
Try to figure out WHY? Once you 'think' you have the problem spots located? Now, try to come up with solutions. Make the changes. Do the routine again. Well, get the idea?
Let's assume for the moment that the routine REALLY is strong. You know it. Others have done it and gotten great response. Or, it's so old no one knows anything about it and you're the only one doing it. But...you know that it have good, solid provenience. It should be a great trick, etc.
Just stick with it for a while. Keep working at it.
Now, what happens if you really do give it a try and you just can't get it to show strong enough that you want to keep doing it? Easy. Set it aside and go on to something else. Look, not everything is going to work for you. Most well. But, believe me, you can get a trick that for whatever reason...just doesn't click. Don't keep banging your head against the wall. Let it go....and, maybe just maybe in a month a year, whatever something will jell for you and BANG! You will pick up that problem trick again and WOW it works.
Just think of coming up with your own original material as a 'problem' solving situation. EXPECT that things will take time and work. It's trite, but true that if it was easy ANYONE could do it, but it need not be as hard as some folks would make it.
Have a plan and work the plan.
Now, sit down...select a trick....come up with 10 totally different 'story' ideas for that trick.
Got 'em? Now, select ANY one, but one that you like the least. Now, write out a whole patter story using that idea. Try it out on someone that won't hate you for experimenting on them, but who will, hopefully, offer an almost true reaction. See what happens.
Go forth and knock 'em dead. (Not literally.)