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Topic: Where to Start?
Message: Posted by: latentimage (Nov 16, 2013 03:46AM)
It seems that there are many knowledgeable magicians who regularly read this section of the forum, so I thought I would post this question here. It's going to sound quite similar to some other posts that have been made here already in a few ways, but near as I can find, none of them really answer my question. If I am asking something that has been covered before, I apologize. I would also like to make it clear that I'm not trying to avoid starting at the bottom of the "ladder of success", looking around for short cuts, or trying to seek out people to say things I want to hear. Now that that's out of the way, I need to give a little background about myself for this to make sense...

I am a magician returning to the art after several years off. By several, I mean about eight years. I have some clippings and what not from newspapers and such from things that I did back then, but they are irrelevant now. Even if they weren't, jumping right back into working again where I left off wouldn't be possible since I need lots of real world practice again before that becomes a possibility. Basically, I am trying to figure out some kind of a venue where I can reacquire my skills of doing a high quality live show that actually flows naturally and is something that people want to come see. The problem I'm having though, is that I have always been a stage magician. When I was younger, I did many birthday parties, high schools and middle schools and elementary schools. I never liked it very much, though. Children are not my thing. A few years ago I got back into the business a bit doing walk around to try that out. People liked it and my employers were happy, but that's not me either.

Prior to that, what I was successful at doing, and really enjoyed, was what I have now learned (from reading here) is the whole "four wall" thing. I worked with another magician, and we would put up our money to rent out theaters, halls, community centers and the like and sell our own tickets. We would do between an hour to an hour and a half show, and for some reason we did very well. We did all of our own advertising, but it was really only ads in the paper and flyers. I have no idea how we ended up actually getting people in the seats, but we did. We weren't selling out stadiums or anything, but we would have no problems getting over 100 plus people to come out to a show in a theater that seated 150. I think it was probably just luck in combination with being young and not thinking it was possible to fail. Each show had someone running lights, sound etc., and everything was scripted and on cue to music. We had probably about 4 or 5 people working for us in one way or another too, which helped.

I want to get back into doing shows like these, because it's all I know and all I have any desire to do. Putting together the show and finding the people to help me run it isn't as big of a problem as the fact that I need to find venues where working my way back up to the four wall thing is possible. We are loaded with small theaters in my area that can be rented, but people don't know me in the area I live in now, and I know very well I can't fill even half of a 100 person theater. On top of that, the entire act is going to need blocked, with music and lighting cues worked out, in addition to working pieces in and out of the show. I'm taking my time getting everything ready to go again, and I am not rushing things. Some days though, it's just difficult to get myself motivated because I am afraid when I work out all the pieces I would like to do to a level that I find acceptable, that I won't have any place to perform. I'm not concerned about making money right now. I just need to find experience.

So, If anyone can offer some insight on where I can re-hone my skills, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm sorry for the long post by the way.

Best,
Allen
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 16, 2013 04:30AM)
You hone your skills with practice and rehearsals. You really answered your own questions, except the part about taking your time, why? If you don't have the desire, drive and motivation, then you will fail. "I would like to" is much different then I have to, or need to, and nothing else means anything to me. When you call all your friends together, how are you going to get them excited about your need to perform, if you are not excited.

Get your local radio stations to give some tickets away for mentioning your event. Use the theaters you have available. This is the time of year, where you have people in the holiday season spirit. This is your best time to put on a show or shows. But a lot depends on your city and area in the country. If you are not in a vacation city or town, then you have to travel from city to city and set up shows in other small theaters, otherwise, you can only do one show a year, and they have to change to get people to come back for a "new" show experience.
Message: Posted by: latentimage (Nov 16, 2013 04:57AM)
Thanks Bill, that makes a lot of sense. I guess I may just have to get to the point where I am ready and go for it. I really like the idea about the radio stations. That would work perfectly in my area I think.

When I said take my time, I meant making sure I am where I want to be artistically and professionally again after so many years off from performing. I am still working on writing the show right now, and then I will have to make sure the crew is on the same page as well. I just want to make sure it's 100% before renting out a theater. I figured maybe there was some sort of venue I wasn't thinking of that might take variety acts or something as a way of getting out and performing stage magic again before doing a full evening show. I suppose times have changed though, and I'm probably looking for something that's no longer in existence and hasn't been since the 50's.

Thanks again,

Allen
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Nov 16, 2013 06:42AM)
Allen,

I understand kid shows and restaurant work are not your thing. However, I would suggest that those venues are the perfect way to hone your skills. Kids, although difficult, are honest and will tell you if something needs improvement in their wonderful charming way. :) Restaurant work forces you to perform over and over. I realize that some skills you may not use in your stage show, but some you will, and you will definitely use the skill of performing in front of people in various types of situations.

Also, you could build your base of customers this way send them all an email blast when you have your ‘four wall’ type of events.

Good Luck!
Message: Posted by: Robin4Kids (Nov 16, 2013 06:54AM)
If you have any dinner theaters in your area, they are sometimes looking for shows to fill in between their scheduled plays. If none are available, you may want to talk with a full service hotel about going in with you to put on a dinner theatre.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 16, 2013 09:09AM)
First thing to do is learn math. Seriously.

Even if you sold out a 100 seat theater with 5 people working for you and advertising on your own and then splitting the money with someone else how much could you possibly make?

Before you go too far and spend a ton of time and money make sure you set clear realistic goals.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Nov 16, 2013 10:10AM)
Starting at the top sounds like a great idea, and I think that it is unrealistic expectations though. I wish you the best my friend, and after you have successfully started at the top come back and let us know how you secceeded to do the impossible.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Nov 16, 2013 10:45AM)
Funny, I too thought the whole dollars and cents thing didn't make much sense.

There are several things to address here that you mentioned. If you are a stage performer who is your target audiences. Since adults rarely go out to see a magic show, it should be family audiences - kids and adults, three generations.

if you are just looking for a "slot" a variety show at theme parks, casinos, or schools could work. My preference would be to create your own venues either for just yourself and your act or combined with other acts I the form of a variety or talent show.

If you are doing a family stage show, and initially money is not important but rather a place to workout your show, improve it, tweak it, record it, review it, get comfortable performing it, get tight with your crew, and most of all simultaneously be putting together your marketing, promotion and business plan and materials, there are many of places where you can do this quite easily. The key is that you aren't seeking profit, only to cover expenses in the name of "pre-production" for your going public for profit with your Four-Walling.

There are many places that would welcome such an arrangement with open arms in the form of a fundraiser or family event outing. The typical problem is finding places that are profitable. If, during this pre-production phase profiting isn't crucial, find venues best suited with your needs and formally (with a promotional one-sheet and proposal outline) approach them, give them your available dates/time-table and window, and schedule as many as you need possible. This is a great way to rehearse before a paying audience with paying expectations, develop relationships with venues that could be profitable later when you are ready for the Four-Wall phase, and you could help some people, businesses, etc. in the process.

Schools, churches, community theaters, charity events, community centers, fraternal or social clubs, sports and recreational centers, etc. - anywhere that has a stage and the requirements for your show. Especially if they can profit from this, you should have no problem getting them on board. Only offer one date per venue, charity or business. Don't let them take advantage of you and don't allow yourself to become known for doing this.

I once went and saw Cheap Trick do a small 150 people club date as part of rehearsal and pre-production for their greatest hits concert tour. They offered to play a club because it had the large needed stage and sound capabilities. They were creating a win-win with the venue. The venue understood and accepted this as a rare, unique opportunity.

One of the other greatest elements to doing this is it can not only be good for the practice and rehearsal of your show, but it can actually be great "practice" and "rehearsal" for four-walling. Learning the ropes, knowing how and what need to be done and how to make all of the many elements and facets come together as needed to create the formula necessary for four-walling to work.

All of this is a process and this can offer you assistance and experience in all facets of the process. Actually I wish more interested four-wallers could be able to approach and do it ti this way. It could result in many less four-wall failures. The simple truth is most can't afford to do this.

Self-admittedly you yourself said you don't know how you did it before and got crowds of 100+ in the venue. This can't be left to chance. This is also what needs to be perfected or at least better understood during this process. If it's not I can almost assure you of failure.

The single-most greatest advice I can offer here is to focus on the business part equally if not more than the show part if four-walling and stage shows are where you are heading and want to excel. Education in theater and stage shows is much different to performing for private parties and consumer events.

Radio and media should only come into play when ready and are only a "tool" on your promotional toolbox, and will not fill your seats with butts. Working the media is a skillset of it's own, put can be an important part of the formula when ready.
Message: Posted by: latentimage (Nov 16, 2013 01:07PM)
Wow, these responses have been fantastic. I have a lot to think about, and some excellent options to consider. I am on my way to a real computer right now, so I will reply in greater depth once I get there. The phone is a pain to type on. Specifically, I'll address the money issues.

Thank you all again,

Allen

I just wanted to address these first and get it out of the way.
[quote]
On 2013-11-16 10:09, Dannydoyle wrote:
First thing to do is learn math. Seriously.
[/quote]
It seems unfair to accuse me of not being able to do math, especially since you haven't any idea what I consider to be success. Some people just like to perform, and would consider it a success any time they were able to do a show and come away with anything less than a negative amount of money. I'm not saying this is how I feel, but I think it's a valid point. Also, I haven't provided any calculations here, so I'm not sure how you reached your conclusion. I'll explain how I worked the theater shows and what I meant by being successful in a minute. Your advice to be realistic is great. Perhaps I am reading too much into how you said what you said, and you didn't mean it as an insult. If so, my apologies.
[quote]
On 2013-11-16 11:10, Al Angello wrote:
Starting at the top sounds like a great idea, and I think that it is unrealistic expectations though. I wish you the best my friend, and after you have successfully started at the top come back and let us know how you secceeded to do the impossible.
[/quote]
Thanks for the response, but I'm wondering if you read what I wrote to begin with. I'm not trying to start at the top, and I pretty much stated I am willing to work for free. I think where we differ here is that you must consider "stage magic" to be the pinnacle of the art. I disagree. From my point of view, for example, Ricky Jay is the best magician in the world. Even though he performs close-up magic (mostly, anymore), I don't believe for a second he hasn't made it because he doesn't have a Copperfield-like show. The point of the post was to ask where I could do my act to practice it, and for free if needed. With that in mind, please explain your comments.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 16, 2013 03:43PM)
If you are going to be defensive when people add facts then I am out of here.

Yes each has his own definition of success. I stand corrected.

I reached my conclusion by the size of the venues and what an average no name (Sorry but that is what you are.) who has to rent a theater and pay at least 5 people and advertise. Reaching conclusions is fairly easy when you just look at reality.

But again if somehow mentioning facts is insulting you then I am done.
Message: Posted by: latentimage (Nov 16, 2013 03:58PM)
Ken, Robin and Mindpro...great advice. Thanks very much. I intend to put it all to use while I'm working everything out. It seems everyone is curious about what I meant regarding the shows I used to do and how we could have possibly been successful, so please let me explain.

First, keep in mind this was several years ago, and prices for various things have probably changed. We would generally start by renting some theater or auditorium. This was surprisingly inexpensive, but none of them held too many people, and most were community owned...either community centers, high schools, churches etc. Rental usually ran between 200-300 dollars for the time we needed to do a show. Our main stage hand was the other guys brother. We got lucky there and he always worked for free. The others came from the community theater circuit, really. These were older people who usually did theater work in the area because they loved it, and not for a living. So, we would usually offer one of these people thirty bucks (fifteen-dollars an hour about) for their time to come and read off the cue sheet and hit the buttons. Since he normally did this for free, he though a few dollars and a couple tickets to the show was a pretty good deal. He always did a great job. Like many magicians, musicians or what have you, skill isn't always measured by success or wealth. I have found this to be particularly true with theater people. We dealt with the other workers the same way. A few tickets to the show, and a couple bucks for helping out. Everyone had a great time.

So basically, we were in it right there for about 420.00. We didn't have any trouble selling tickets for about 15 dollars a piece, which put us at about 1350 before costs (allowing room for some free tickets). We did our own advertising for the show and got in the papers, but that never cost anything. We would just call and tell them we were doing something, and they always wanted pictures and info to put in the paper. Otherwise, we just put up lots and lots of fliers. We had one that we used quite a bit that we had some guy draw up in black and white, which he did for free. Black and white copies were five cents at the post office (when the post office still had copy machines) so 100 copies set us back five bucks. I suppose we spent gas money driving around and handing them out, but that was about it. I find it hard to believe people saw a flier and decided to come to the show, but who knows I guess. There may have been other costs I'm not thinking of, so let's say we left with 700 dollars between us, which sounds about right. 350 dollars was ok with me to be doing what I loved to do.

Of course, none of this included the cost of the effects, or taking care of birds, rabbits etc. I realize that, so it's also something to consider. Thinking about it now, most of the people probably showed up because we advertised heavily at the places that we were going to play. So most of the people who ended up seeing the ads were people who went to see stuff at that theater in the first place. The same thing with schools, churches, whatever. When we were going to play there, we asked them to announce it to their people.

Going back to my initial question, I would be working alone this time. That means I can keep more of the profits, but I know I'm not ready to jump into this right now headfirst. I've stated that several times. That's why I was asking about particular venues or approaches that might lead to getting good practice for stage magic. My favorite part of my act was always my doves. I want to be able to do that again someday in it's entirety, so hopefully hard work and dedication will eventually get me there.

Thanks to everyone who answered my question in your responses, and I'm still going through the info. I'm sure the information will eventually help others besides me too, so any additional thoughts would be great.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 16, 2013 04:01PM)
I all you want to do is practice, then get ahold of all the Senior Centers, and retirement homes, and old people homes and facilities. Just be aware that the more convalescent the home, the more they will not be able to do more then hold something in their lap.

Many comedians say they try out material in these kinds of homes. Be aware that the administrator may not treat you very well, as it is free and he/she does not really care. You have to also make sure they will move the people to the party room. I have heard some stories how being it is free, they do not feel it is that important.

No there is actually no where to just go perform a variety act, if there were, wouldn't you think everyone would know about it. That is why no one can name exact places. These days you have to make your own path. Problem is you have to work just as hard and sell, sell, sell, to get them to think your idea will be good for their business.

I once offered a show for a small magic show in their small room with a stage. The director said why should I so an event that only brings in a few hundred dollars, when she could do a Casino Night and make $20,000. Hard to see that any additional revenue brought in would not be enough to here thinking. I really was shocked with here thinking.

Most restaurants believe their food brings in the business. Small Theaters are geared to children plays, thus you have to see if they want to make additional revenue for their theater. You would be surprised how many do not want to stray from putting on children plays.

Dinner Theaters, are hard to get into as well, as in our area, they are closed most to the week, thus there is no available none theater in the round nites. Also trying to show magic in the round is very difficult, as magic is more visual then other arts.

Professional sales hint: People will say, "No" seven to ten times, before they say, "yes". So have a sales pitch ready.

I agree, you are not starting at the top. Funny, how some people think performing parties and banquets is not the Top, but if you want to perform in a theater, it is the Top of theater work.

Copperfield then started at the top on stage in Chicago. Then started at the top on television, as I did not see him do commercial work until after his television specials were aired.
Message: Posted by: latentimage (Nov 16, 2013 04:01PM)
[quote]
On 2013-11-16 16:43, Dannydoyle wrote:
If you are going to be defensive when people add facts then I am out of here.
[/quote]

My inability to do math is a fact? I thanked you for your input, but it looks to me like you are looking for fight. I'm not going to give you one. Sorry.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 16, 2013 04:12PM)
So not agreeing with you is looking to fight?

Your formula will lose you money every time you try it.

How do you plan to replace the free labor? It is a large cost. As you said cost of just doing the show is pretty large animal wise and such.

If you want to do it regularly, you need to scale it up. You need to be able to go into places where you do not have connections, travel and put the show in. Trying to simply point out monumental expense is trying to fight with you somehow?

Sorry reality is so disagreeable to you. Good luck with it. I hope you do well.
Message: Posted by: latentimage (Nov 16, 2013 04:37PM)
[quote]
Sorry reality is so disagreeable to you. Good luck with it. I hope you do well.
[/quote]
I'm not concerned about making money right now. I just need to find experience.

So, If anyone can offer some insight on where I can re-hone my skills, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm sorry for the long post by the way.
[/quote]
It's not about disagreeing. I purposefully asked a question that should not have resulted in this. You answered a question that I didn't even ask because the one I did ask didn't leave you any room for a negative response. It was a simple "does anyone know where I can do a free stage show so I can practice". I think it's clear that I'm not trying to be the next Criss Angel here. I just want to do my thing and go back to putting on a good show. Every single person posting on this thread has more experience than me, and I'm quite certain you do too. You don't have to remind me that I'm a nobody in magic, I never claimed otherwise. The fact that I asked for advice on here in the first place should have been a good indicator of that.

I would still like to hear more input from others, so I can't respond to these anymore. If I do, they will lock the thread I'm sure. To be clear, I have learned quite a bit from your other posts in this section, and know you have good stuff to say. Just because I don't post often doesn't mean I'm not always reading.
[quote]
On 2013-11-16 17:01, Bill Hegbli wrote:
I all you want to do is practice, then get ahold of all the Senior Centers, and retirement homes, and old people homes and facilities. Just be aware that the more convalescent the home, the more they will not be able to do more then hold something in their lap.
[/quote]
This is all great stuff Bill. I am thinking senior centers are going to be the first places I try. I have done one or two shows in similar places a long time ago, and I actually had a pretty decent experience. Seniors seem to appreciate magic in a different way than the younger crowd. I suppose that might be a result of being around for Johnny Carson, Mark Wilson etc. Not to mention the fact that they probably remember variety acts and such.
Message: Posted by: Bazinga (Nov 16, 2013 10:58PM)
[quote]
On 2013-11-16 17:01, Bill Hegbli wrote:
[b]I all you want to do is practice, then get ahold of all the Senior Centers, and retirement homes, and old people homes and facilities.[/b] Just be aware that the more convalescent the home, the more they will not be able to do more then hold something in their lap.

Many comedians say they try out material in these kinds of homes. Be aware that the administrator may not treat you very well, as it is free and he/she does not really care. You have to also make sure they will move the people to the party room. [b]I have heard[/b] some stories how being it is free, they do not feel it is that important.[/quote]

I hate it when people think and treat these as throw-away, and unimportant gigs!

Especially when they have no experience in working them, but rather pass along bullzhit based on stories they "heard."

Bazinga!
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 17, 2013 10:17AM)
I have never met a comedian who does such a thing. Of what use is it to perform for an audience that can barely respond if at all? Comedians specifically need to know feedback from an audience.

But lets be at least clear about what we are speaking. They have 55 and over communitie which is an entire circuit right now. But if you do them it had better be with an actual show.

The fact is that any audience that pays to see you deserves a show worthy of the money and not to watch you rehearse. This is a balance you have to strike between being ready and needing to generate income. Nobody can say when you are ready but an audience. Usually they vote with their dollars.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Nov 17, 2013 11:07AM)
Yeah, I've got to agree here too about the comedians. Of all types of performers, comedians know and understand that their material is usually created and targeted to s specific audience and they are very aware of trying to only perform for their audience. Knowing and having personally booked over 300 comedians I don't know a single one that would try out any material for seniors or senior's facilities.

Today's 55 and older generation (Baby Boomers) is the last generation to be raised on live entertainment, and therefore expect a true "show" and real entertainment not just a performance and anything less they will be able to see through. They are not a throw-away audience or demographic as they are the largest segment of of our population.

Seems only magicians look at seniors as this starved-for-any-type-of-entertainment-while-they-are-sitting-there-in-their-Depends-drooling-and-nodding-off. This is not the case. They also do not want to see your kids show or find it acceptable either. The senior market is and can be a viable market but not in the way most around here seen to perceive it as.
Message: Posted by: Bazinga (Nov 17, 2013 11:56AM)
Dannydoyle and Mindpro,

Thank you gentlemen. True professionals, both of you.

Bazinga!
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Nov 17, 2013 02:53PM)
If you keep moving the goal pasts no one will be able to outsmart you, and being evasive is no way to get help either.
Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Nov 17, 2013 10:59PM)
As I read this I'm confused. You want to put on a show and you want places to perform excuse me places to practice ur show till ur ready to perform it in a venue you will 4 wall!

I guess my confusion is if ur doing free shows in the area as practice and then 4 wall in the same area why would they pay when they just saw you for free.
I realize not everyone would have seen you but you get my point.

The bigger question here is why don't you want to perform for pay. Why not put ur show together and then contact some companies in the area and offer them an introductory rate for booking your "new" show. You get more experience and you get paid.

I would also say that if money is important family audiences is the way to go. Just look at which movies make more money!


Again u. Need to be ready with ur show before you perform it for any one. And yes performing it will allow you to gain experience and knowledge of what works and what does not work.

I too will back up the comedians performing for senior centers. My friend is working his but off in NY and he does it by performing at every comedy club he can get into from some SO so clubs to some high end clubs. When I was performing with him one night at the comedy stop he had 3 more sets in 3 different clubs that night. Comedians real world experience from people you want what they deliver.

Best of luck to u. Find what works for you and run with it. But for now sounds as though you need to script the show decide how it runs and then get ur self out there performing in the real world for a bit before you start 4 walling on your own.

Have fun what ever you do
Oh and blk and white flyers are not the way to go today. When I was performing at the tropicana they used mini full color fliers every day had some one walking on the board walk handing them out. Kind of like what they do in NY where guys stand out there in high volume areas handing out fliers for shows in the area.

U could get full color hand bills made let me rephrase that. U should get full color hand bills made take them to every pizza shop in town and ask them to put one with every delivery. In trade you could offer them free advertisement at your show via a program. Heck there is another way to make money and get advertisement.
Sell space in your program. Get companies to buy tickets in bulk for their employees

Oh there is so much you could do. But first make sure you have a great show people want to pay to see

Sam
Message: Posted by: JoshLondonMagic (Nov 17, 2013 11:43PM)
[quote]
On 2013-11-17 23:59, Sam Sandler wrote:
As I read this I'm confused. You want to put on a show and you want places to perform excuse me places to practice ur show till ur ready to perform it in a venue you will 4 wall!

I guess my confusion is if ur doing free shows in the area as practice and then 4 wall in the same area why would they pay when they just saw you for free.
I realize not everyone would have seen you but you get my point.

[/quote]

This is exactly what I was thinking. If you just want to practice get out and do open mic nights. Also, when you advertise a free show to the public then a few weeks/months later offer the same show but for $15 a ticket I'm not sure you'll have a ton of people knocking at the door. Then if that's the case that means you'll need to travel with this show, which means added costs that will probably exceed the figures you gave.

Is your friend's brother going to go on tour with you for free?

To answer your original question, just get out and perform. Period.

Josh
Message: Posted by: latentimage (Nov 18, 2013 03:58AM)
Sam, I do like the idea of family audiences. That is pretty much the crowds I usually got, and the stuff I do tends to work well with them I think. Let me try to explain what I meant. If a comedian wants to try out a new bit, he goes to an open mic night at a comedy club. If a close up magician wants to try a new bit, he can walk up to someone at a bar, on the street or many other places and ask if they would like to see a trick. My question was where does a stage magician go to try out his material? A full stage show, as you know requires music, lighting and assistants ect. After reading over everything here, I have come to my own answer. 60 years ago, I think the answer would have been to perfect a bit and join a variety show. Now a days, I don't think there is an answer to my question beyond what you are saying, which is a good advice.

I wasn't trying to suggest that I was going to perform something I felt was not ready. The truth is, for me at least, I'm not sure how a bit is going to go over until I see how an audience responds. I think this is probably something comedians face too. I'm not a comedian myself and I don't know any, but I would think they probably go through the same thing. I could be totally wrong.

Josh, as I mentioned above in this post, I wasn't trying to spend the money to do an entire show for free. Also, as I mentioned in one of the other posts, the figures I gave would be radically different now. That was a long time ago, and was in a very different place than I live in now. I would also be doing this all myself now, and wouldn't have anyone to split the risk with. I all but said those shows were a bad idea and we were extremely lucky to fill the seats. The reason I gave that background story was to illustrate the type of performing I enjoyed doing. It was so long ago, the reviews and publicity information I have left is also totally irrelevant. I figured if I told that story, I could avoid people suggesting children's birthday parties or close up etc. I want to make it clear that I don't look down on these things and have done both, but that's not what I enjoy doing most. One is not better than the other, and stage magic is certainly not (in my opinion) the pinnacle of the art. We are all different. When I told the story, it ended up causing people to tell me that basically I couldn't have done that because the numbers didn't add up. I didn't give the numbers to say that's what I expected or was trying to be doing now. I was just sort of trying to defend myself I guess. Looking back on it, I gave way too much information.

Additionally no, my friends brother will not be going on a tour with me and working for free. My wife will be though, so I have the free labour covered for that position at least. She is always very excited to help and much more attractive than him anyway. :)

Posted: Nov 18, 2013 6:02am
Quick clarification. I wasn't trying to "four wall" a show for free, trying to sell tickets and such. I was wanting a place to try out the show (or at least some bits) without that. It would be well worked out and not sloppy or thrown together. I would want to gauge the audiences reactions and possibly get some feedback. Senior Citizens centers are a great answer to my problem, and I enjoy performing for that age group. Perfect solution to try lots of my stuff. The fraternal organization I belong to often has us helping in places like this anyhow. I should have thought of it!
Message: Posted by: JoshLondonMagic (Nov 18, 2013 01:25PM)
Seems like you have it all figured out!

Josh
Message: Posted by: latentimage (Nov 18, 2013 02:21PM)
Well, certainly not all figured out, but the messages here and PM's have given me some great direction. The most important one might be to just perform whenever and wherever, as you mentioned. I think I do know what I need to do to get started now. Big thanks again to everyone who has made suggestion!

Allen
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 18, 2013 02:42PM)
[quote]
On 2013-11-17 11:17, Dannydoyle wrote:
I have never met a comedian who does such a thing. Of what use is it to perform for an audience that can barely respond if at all? Comedians specifically need to know feedback from an audience.

But lets be at least clear about what we are speaking. They have 55 and over communitie which is an entire circuit right now. But if you do them it had better be with an actual show.

The fact is that any audience that pays to see you deserves a show worthy of the money and not to watch you rehearse. This is a balance you have to strike between being ready and needing to generate income. Nobody can say when you are ready but an audience. Usually they vote with their dollars.
[/quote]

Well Mister Know it All, seems you don't know everyone in comedy. As the lady comedian announced this in a television interview. But of course you knew that.

It is not what I heard, I was speaking things I actually experienced. When are you going to get your head out of your ***. Your attitude is worse then anyone on the Café. You just love to attack everyone that wants to do anything. I sincerely hope you do not have children, if you do they have to worthless messes.

Now I would like to see your thousands of dollar contacts with retirement home shows you have performed. You mouth off, but never provide any facts.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 18, 2013 04:11PM)
Wow anger management dude.

First off Bill it was not only me who mentioned it. Why single me out as Josh and Bazinga and mindpro and Sam agreed with me.

Get over yourself.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Nov 18, 2013 04:23PM)
It's more fun when he just singles out you.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 18, 2013 04:29PM)
More fun for whom?

I wasn't the one who was even mean to him. I simply said that it is not a great place to practice comedy is all.

I guess 10 years headlining the comedy club circuit when there was one does not entitle me to an opinion.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Nov 18, 2013 06:25PM)
Bill, Danny is one of the few people here I would listen to. He has actually done the things he comments on -- or at the very least understands the biz -- while most here simply toss about grand ideas and never follow through. I have a very few close friends who are not afraid to tell me when my ideas suck, and if I got angry with them all the time I would have made lots of mistakes. Rather than get mad at Danny, read what he says and learn from it.
Message: Posted by: Bazinga (Nov 19, 2013 12:59AM)
Yes, it was I who first mentioned an opinion on treating nursing home gigs as "throw-aways." I don't care what TV comedian does it, or what any type of entertainer does it, it is NOT professional. And it is terribly disrespectful to those audiences.

I also used the "heard it vs, experienced it" reference because that's what you, Bill, said: "I have heard some stories..." I apologize if I misunderstood. But my point still stands against treating those as throw away gigs.

I was playing banjo for Stonewall Jackson 23 years ago. We did a show in a small town's high school auditorium. It was in December and the weather turned bad and kept the attendence very low (about 2 people I think.) Stonewall's attitude was that those people paid their to see the best show we could do and that's what we did. After the show a meal was provided for us in the school's Caféteria. Since the crowd was small they were all invited. Stonewall insisted we stay and visit and have pictures with everyone who stayed. They got a treat and we had a great time.

My take away lesson from that was every audience deserves nothing less than your best effort. ALL TRUE PROFESSIONALS know that and work that way. Practice at home.

Bazinga!


My apologies to Danny for catching the flack from my post.
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Nov 19, 2013 06:17AM)
Selling tickets for a theatre show

On choosing a venue:

Look for small village halls which have a regular WI group meeting there, and a small stage if possible. Search for that towns WI on the web and have a look at the venue they use as a potential place for you to hire.

You want to check that the venue has at least 100 chairs available before you hire it. Some venues don't come with chairs...

Working plug sockets, heating, a full set of working lights (with no dead bulbs), a decent size car park, a small kitchen and hallway are nice. Most importantly, you don't want the toilet door to be located next to the stage...

Large towns are hard work and the people I find are not as easy to sell to. Small villages or places without regular theatrical entertainment will draw in the crowds more easily.

Also, the cost of the hall hire is ridiculously cheap (the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee per hour). In a large town, theatre hire costs will require you to take out a mortgage.

There may be function rooms above a pub you can hire and I've been to a few shows in these venues. But in those shows I attended, there was a maximum of ten people there and most were just other magicians supporting their friend. The clientele that visit pubs aren't the type to go to the theatre or watch live entertainment. So from what I have seen, I wouldn't go down this route.

You can try splitting the door costs with an organiser like a school, and they do the marketing for you. There are other threads on this type of marketing so I wont go into detail here. Use the search feature.


Selling tickets:

1. Pay if you have to, but put a poster in the post-office window. This is the place everyone in that village has to go to for a variety of reasons, so it is the key place for marketing posters. It will not do magic on its own however, but together with all strategies your going to raise awareness for your show.
You could offer free tickets in return for putting up the poster for free, but you will have to decide if its cheaper to pay the 30p to put the poster up, or give them comp tickets worth £16. At least with the comp tickets, you can be sure at least two people will be at your show.

2. Put a leaflet through everyones door. This will take time and in the cold months it can be less than pleasurable. But in a small village, its entirely possible to spend six hours posting leaflets and reach everyone in there.

3. The village noticeboard (often located near the church) should have your poster upon it.

4. If you are around the day before the show, do a guest spot at the local school / schools. Do a free ten minute set during the assembly and leave a leaflet with all the children their, and a poster on the school wall. The kids that want to see a magic show will drag their parents and siblings to it.

5. If a WI meets there, you can give them all your flyer and they will turn up to your show simply because its a night out, and they will often drag there family to the event also. Its a fast way of selling lots of tickets. The easiest way to let them know about your show is to make sure you have a nice big A4 or A3 poster on the village hall notice board. It also doesn't hurt to give them a phone call or email to let them know about your show as it gives them something to add to the conversation when they meet.

6. Selling to other magicians. Magicians will often go to another magicians show to nick their entire act and jokes. But like everyone else though they will pay to get in, and so it can be profitable to contact the local magic clubs and let them know about your show. You should also let magic websites like magicweek know about the show. Its free advertising and will draw people like me down to see your show.

There are often strategies like radio and TV appearances, newspaper adverts etc. but I don't think they are worth wasting time over. Its fun to do them if they are free for just the pleasure of appearing on them. But as a means for selling tickets, your lucky if the radio host with the free complimentary ticket turns up. Never mind any paying guests.


The show:

Whether you like it or not, your doing a family show with focus on the children. We as magicians may understand the difference between adult magic and children's entertainment. But the lay people don't.
They think all magic is for children, so they will be dragging their kids to the show. That means everything has to be clean, and family friendly. So leave your human blockhead trick at home.

You will need an announcer. Someone to tell people where the fire exits are, to buy raffle tickets, inform people that there will be an interval (so they can plan their dash to the toilet) and introduce you. You can try and do it yourself, but preferably you should have at least one other person there with you (like a family member) to act as such a role, along with selling raffle tickets.

An interval is needed to sell raffle tickets, confectionery and allow a toilet break. A 55 minute first half and 40 minute second half appears to be the norm.

Audience involvement is required, but if you think your ready to do a show like this, then you should already know that...


Ticket prices:

The show I attended on the 15th November 2013 at a small village hall cost:
Adults -£8, Kids £5
There were no family tickets or offers. Those were the set price.
They had a sell-out, filling almost all 100 seats with about 90 people. Some of those people were house staff (like the person who ran the raffle etc.) so not all of them paid, but it was apparently the biggest sell-out the landlord had ever seen.

Another show had tickets priced at adults £8.50, children £5.50 and a family ticket at £25

I prefer keeping the figure to round numbers (rather than half's) as it takes up less space on the marketing and is easier to count at the end etc. the family ticket may be a good idea, bit that depends on where you do your marketing and how many seats you have to fill. If you can predict that a family will turn up whatever the ticket price is, then offering them a discount is only going to cost you money. If you know that you are the only entertainment likely to perform in that village, it be more profitable to sell the tickets are full price.


Other money making tips:

The raffle. I hate raffles and refuse to buy a ticket. But I'm not ignorant to the fact that the rest of the world are addicted to them. It doesn't even matter what the prizes are, people buy tickets at £1 per strip by the bucketload.
So make sure you visit a local charity shop, pick up some cheap prizes and have a raffle. Tickets will be selected at the beginning of the second half.

The sweet and drink table. I would personally just sells cans of pop and sealed chocolate bars for simplicity. But I've seen some serve alcohol which was poured into cheap plastic cups, and others serve tea and coffee which is time consuming in making each cup. Even if you drag your entire family there to prepare the coffee and work the stand, my thoughts are the money it brings in is not worth the effort - especially when you consider the fact that if you didn't offer them a coffee they would have just bought a can of pop instead. So you still get their money with less effort.

Selling of magic sets and books. At the show I saw a few days ago, he was selling A4 12 page colour books at £4 each.
Another show I went to had four black and white A5 16 page books at £3 each or all four for £10.
In both cases the books were only bought out after the show, which the magician gave a quick sales pitch for right before he did his last trick. The magician himself was the one that sold these at the front of the stage.
A key selling tip was that they would 'sign' the book for them. This is an incentive for them to buy the books there are then. So always mention that you will sign the product. In which case, make sure you have a couple of sharpies on you at that time.
The volume of sales of these books varies from show to show. I cannot put a figure on how many you will need or that you will sell.
Ive seen others selling 'stiff ropes' and I've personally sold magic sets at £5 each and sold over 30 of them at the end of the show.
But books I think are the way to go. They are cheap to print and create, easy to store and transport and can be trailered to your means. That may require you to write the book, which will take time. But its a lot of fun selling a product you personally spent the time creating.

Steve