(Close Window)
Topic: What do you do on a regular basis to make your show better?
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Aug 26, 2012 08:57PM)
Buy better tricks?
Learn/practice a musical instrument to add to your act?
Push ups?
Dancing lessons?
Add corny jokes because we know everybody loves a good corny joke?

What do you to do improve your act?
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Aug 26, 2012 09:13PM)
Since I'm just starting out:

Write scripts
Ask you guys lots of questions
Steal your jokes
Think about ways to link effects into routines
Review and think about my performances and try to eliminate dead space and increase audience involvement
Message: Posted by: MichaelCGM (Aug 26, 2012 09:13PM)
Add bits based on input from audiences - not limited to just jokes. Things one audience does makes the show better for other audiences. Does that make sense?
Message: Posted by: danfreed (Aug 26, 2012 09:19PM)
Yeah Michael, that does make sense for sure. I try to pay attention to what works and doesn't for each show so I know what to keep or drop. I read this forum for ideas and inspiration. No dance lessons for me! I try to add new tricks because I keep running into kids that have seen me at almost every gig.
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Aug 26, 2012 10:14PM)
I've added some new material in the last few months, which of course involves writing, prop. management and more.

I've made some changes to my table and prop arrangement to make things easier to get to (still a work in progress).

I've asked my mentor and some friends for suggestions to make my performance stronger.

I've tried to make my booking interactions with clients more professional and reassuring.
I think the clients impression of me before I arrive has a lot to do with how they frame the show (or more how I frame the show).

I've tried to streamline my set up and teardown because I've been feeling that I look a bit scattered.

I'm smiling more (after seeing some frowning video).

-Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Aug 26, 2012 10:55PM)
It's not a matter of what I like. I'm being paid by the audience.

Many years ago, (The statute of limitations has long gone by) when we first started doing illusion shows, I hid a tape recorder in the rear of the venue. On the way back from every show the L&S man drove our truck and the other assistants sat in the van with me. We listened to the comments the paying public said - and that's how we decided what to keep and not keep.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Aug 27, 2012 05:14AM)
I find that the more stories I add, the stronger my show becomes. So turning every routine into a story is what works for me. No story, no place in the show.
Message: Posted by: kimmo (Aug 27, 2012 07:29AM)
I do the opposite of Jay and never ever try to 'give the audience what they want'. I believe that it's my job to put myself and my personality up on stage and show people what I believe to be funny. I trust that the audience will come along for the ride. I'm not suggesting Jay's approach is wrong though, there are many ways to skin a cat.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 27, 2012 08:09AM)
1. Listen more...both on and off stage
2. Watch good entertainers that are not magicians
3. Balance solid routines with true improv
4. Make solid lines seem like true improv
5. Put more me into my programs
6. Use other characters...with or without hats, wigs, glasses, accents...

Though not directly related...
1. Yes I am currently taking dancing lessons(Ballroom...my wife wants to learn 2 step next...)
2. Signed up and use a gym/health club
3. Jam with professional and other musicians
4. Listen to feedback from those I trust
5. Read books other than magic
(currently reading The Book Thief)
6. Pushups...used to do them on a regular basis...(up to 90 in a row..these days every once in a while...40-60)..more likely to do situps and jump rope...though I am not doing 1500-2000 reps anymore....

Message: Posted by: TommyJ (Aug 27, 2012 09:24AM)
I keep trying to add comedy to my performances. I'm never satisfied. I want as many laughs per minute as I can get. Along with strong routines. Smooth transitions from routine to routine. That is what I strive for.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 27, 2012 09:30AM)
A performer I like commented about my LPM.

Though I do love comedy, I am not afraid to go for other emotions during my program.

I call my self a Laughologist these days.(and not a comedian...because it is not all funny)

Message: Posted by: Leland (Aug 27, 2012 11:12AM)
Whenever I can I have someone in the audience video my performance and I review it. Sometimes I'm happy with what I see and sometimes I have to force myself through it. But I always find something that I can change to make it better.

After the first few times I reviewed my show I had no idea how often I gave my back to the audience, so I knew that placement of my props had to be re-arranged. It's the little things that make the difference.
Message: Posted by: The Mighty Fool (Aug 27, 2012 12:44PM)
On 2012-08-26 23:55, jay leslie wrote:
I hid a tape recorder in the rear of the venue. We listened to the comments the paying public said - and that's how we decided what to keep and not keep.

Sneeeeeaky!!!! I LIKE!

As for moi, recently I've tried to add more visual "ooh & aah" effects like the snowstorm, throw-streamers, gypsy-balloon (with a cool pyro-climax) and a bubblestorm, all to music. These increase my cost, because they have to be refilled, but the increased reactions I've gotten are worth it I'd say. I just wish I'd heard about Jay's recorder-trick earlier so I could compare!
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Aug 27, 2012 02:32PM)
I am always working on new stuff, and experimenting with the old stuff. There is nothing in my show that I do exactly like I did it 5 years ago.

Is this a trick question?
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Aug 27, 2012 02:53PM)
Nope. Not a trick question.

I do a lot of the things listed above.

I've even gone as far as swapping out the containers that hold my props for certain specific reasons.
The audience never knows the difference but if it reduces how much I have to think about props and placement and how to get them in and out of my act, my show will benefit.

Like Jay, I'm very interested in feedback (tho I've never used a recorder) but like Kimmo, I trust my instincts and create a show that's "all me" and what I think is funny/entertaining, and I just hope the audiences (as Kimmo says) "come along for the ride". I've found this to be the most influential thing I've done in terms of improving my show.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Aug 27, 2012 04:21PM)
I must say Kimmo's approach is the top in my book! Confidence - it shows.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Aug 27, 2012 04:28PM)
I'm with Kimmo too the audience has no idea what they are talking about, and I know what works by listening to the laughs, and the applause night after night. I have had many audience members compliment me for doing tricks I have never done.
Message: Posted by: MichaelDouglas (Aug 27, 2012 04:29PM)
This likely happens to all of us, but there are generally a few kids hovering around me as I repack my gear after a show. 1) I've developed the habit of asking them what they liked best about the show. Sometimes the things that I don't give much thought to are mentioned as a favorite.

2) Frank mentioned swapping out prop containers. I've been tinkering with containers and prop stands/cases for the last 3 years. I've gone through about 5 variations on my prop stand/table/case. I've finally settled on a setup that works very well for me. I've still a little more tinkering to do with my banner on the front of my table/case. Economy of size and weight, plus ease of access during my show are the objectives.

3) I used to video all of my shows and send a feedback form after every show. I only do that now when I've changed something in the show or want feedback, aka a quote or soundbyte, from an influential client.

4) I've been working on adding sound to my show.....like forever. That's just waaaaay hard for me. I forget to press the button on my remote at the right time, or whatever. I just need to rehearse that a bit more for an even more professional presentation.
Message: Posted by: ColinDymond (Aug 27, 2012 05:06PM)
I wonder how well skinning a cat goes down in a kids show?
Message: Posted by: Tamariz (Aug 27, 2012 06:51PM)
Perform, reflect, imagine and try some new ideas with old routines, take theatre workshops, perform some more, perform in different environments, seek professional feedback, perform more, rest and repeat.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Aug 27, 2012 07:09PM)
Since I work out of a briefcase, space is a premium.
One of my tricks uses 3 large silks and a dye tube. Instead of just keeping it all just tossed in the case, I put all of it into a cups and balls bag.
Then I just pull everything out before the show starts.

I used it that way for a long time. Then one day when rummaging around, I found a similar size bag with a zipper along one of the long sides.

I immediately switched to that bag and it made a huge difference in "getting ready".

Now, when I unzip that bag, I have easy access to everything and I don't have to take anything out to "get ready". Anyone peeking into my case, should that happen, sees nothing because everything is still inside the zipper bag. With the cups bag, I had to remove everything and set the bag on top of it all to cover the items that were in there.

I also have a small red zipper case that holds all the items I need to put on my person before my show starts.
If the bag is empty... I'm ready.
That idea also reduced a lot of pre-show stress.

Nothing feels so great as when I'm watching the act before mine from the audience as a spectator instead of pacing backstage, wondering if I'm ready or not.
Message: Posted by: gadfly3d (Aug 27, 2012 07:21PM)
Work in front of a live audience
Message: Posted by: magicpro12 (Aug 27, 2012 09:23PM)
Write down your ideas. Sometimes you may have a random thought that crosses your mind. Write it down. That thought will often lead to new ideas for the show. For example, while performing a finger chopper effect last night, I had used a line I had never used before. It made the routine a huge hit. I wrote it down and it will now be a refular part of the routine.
Message: Posted by: The Mighty Fool (Aug 28, 2012 12:38AM)
On 2012-08-27 18:06, ColinDymond wrote:
I wonder how well skinning a cat goes down in a kids show?

Well, I'D pay to see it!
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 28, 2012 06:37AM)
Take risks.
Message: Posted by: magic4children (Aug 28, 2012 07:01AM)
Add one new routine per month, (and archive one) so that yearly repeat bookings get a different show.
Message: Posted by: TommyJ (Aug 28, 2012 07:09AM)
On 2012-08-28 07:37, magicgeorge wrote:
Take risks.

Message: Posted by: TRUMPETMAN (Aug 28, 2012 09:49AM)
I try to talk to my mentor on a fairly regular basis, and also seek out more mentors for inspiration.

I also try to read everyday, and write down every crazy idea that comes into my head.
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (Aug 28, 2012 10:50AM)
sometimes it takes YEARS to develop a new routine.. to trade out magic on a monthly basis is not only robbing you of REALLY learning a routine.. but robbing your audience of seeing a flushed out routine. I hate to say this.. but 90% of your audience probably couldn't name more than one trick you did your show... and if you repeat the one they remember.. it means it was good enough to rememeber and that they'd like to see it again.

I think that video of EVERY show.. new old or indifferent is important. David Copperfield and many other top acts tape EVERY show.. you never know when you're going to have that GEM of an improve joke that you want to keep... or when you've changed over time and something doesn't look as good as it could
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Aug 28, 2012 12:23PM)
On 2012-08-28 08:01, magic4children wrote:
Add one new routine per month, (and archive one) so that yearly repeat bookings get a different show.

I agree with the post above. This is NOT a good way to try to improve your act.
In fact, after 6 months, you're doing 6 tricks that you've barely ever done in front of a live audience.
Your entire act is basically JUST getting started, at all times.
Message: Posted by: Leland (Aug 28, 2012 01:36PM)
I have to agree, I have new routines that I've added that I thought wouldn't make the cut but after a few months of performing it and making adjustments I found that it improved and now fits into my act.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 28, 2012 01:48PM)
I have a puppet that I just started adding to my shows. I started this in May. I have had the puppet on my thinking table since 2003.

The last month, I have taken out my lead puppet. Though those who have seen Nigel, ask and miss him, it is great to see Papa Charlies character shine before a live audience.

On the other hand my spring animal routine has been in my show for over 10 years. A short run of puppet workshops added 3 new bits with him.

I find teaching and holding workshops makes my regular shows stronger. These workshops are either for other Christian entertainers or 7th grade(middle school) drama classes.


Message: Posted by: billappleton (Aug 28, 2012 02:00PM)
I try to build most of my own equipment, and I often upgrade long standing routines with better props or improved handling. I like gradual improvements.

most recently I rebuilt my zombie routine with new music, a disapearing ball move, a better mime sequence, and now this transitions into Jeff McBride's Butterfly Blizzard, which is entirely new.

Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Aug 28, 2012 02:32PM)

I like the base

Now guess my age. I bought a new six foot dragon silk (Like the one in your picture but a 6 footer ) for a grand total of either 22.50 or 27.50, new. I can't remember, it was a while ago.

I still use it in my Kuma Tubes
Message: Posted by: billappleton (Aug 28, 2012 04:13PM)
Hi Jay,

The base is made out of a different pieces of an upside down Toro Lawn Sprinkler with part of a plastic cup on top.

I see those 6 foot dragon silks for about $150 now, although I doubt the new ones are as nice as yours. The inflation calculator estimates that would have been worth $25 back in 1972. Sound about right?

The Kuma Tubes are super cool! Do you still perform them?

Best, Bill
Message: Posted by: kimmo (Aug 28, 2012 07:15PM)
On 2012-08-28 08:09, TommyJ wrote:
On 2012-08-28 07:37, magicgeorge wrote:
Take risks.



I'll also add - don't beat yourself though up if you try something new and it fails.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 29, 2012 07:35AM)
Yes, something going "wrong" has many times taught me more than my A ++++ stuff.

In the past wrong...led to fear..and the show going "south". Now it can lead to something wonderful.

Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 29, 2012 09:20AM)
This morning I got to see several puppet programs put on by students who attended my workshops.

It was great to see them use the elements they learned.

Message: Posted by: The Mighty Fool (Aug 29, 2012 12:57PM)
On 2012-08-28 08:01, magic4children wrote:
Add one new routine per month, (and archive one) so that yearly repeat bookings get a different show.

Well, I don't know about adding a new routine EVERY month...that sounds a bit trying. I do regularly come across new effects which I fiddle with, and some are good, so they get routined, and make it into the act, shouldering something else aside......but that happens I'd say mabye 3-5 times a year on average.
Message: Posted by: Steve Burton (Aug 30, 2012 03:23PM)
On a regular basis I paint, sew and clean. It's a constant battle to keep everything looking good.