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Topic: Parlor/stand-up beginner
Message: Posted by: CJ_Magic205 (Nov 3, 2015 10:38AM)
Hi everyone,

I've been doing magic for a while now, and am pretty comfortable doing close-up to friends and family. But I've recently become much more interested in performing stand-up/stage type magic, and was wondering where was a good place to start performing these kinds of shows. I would eventually like to get into the corporate and college type shows (not necessarily corporate or college, just to give you an idea of size of audience/type of audience), and these shows can't really be done in front of 6 family members, at least not that I'm aware of. So my question is where would be the best place to 'get my feet wet' in this kind of performing? Would it be senior centers? kids shows? Or do I try to go for the target market right away? I put it in this section of the Café because I feel like charity work (where I don't necessarily face the same pressure as if the client was paying me) was a good place to start something completely new to me.

Any help you guys could offer would be much appreciated!

Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Nov 3, 2015 06:05PM)
You're wise to ask for advice. There are many people around here who can give you lots more than I can, but here's some...

Do NOT aim for your target audience yet, you're not ready. Keep performing everywhere and anywhere else. Senior centers are great, if you have an act. Do you? Kids parties are great too, again, if you have an act. You can volunteer to do these first shows for free. It gives you a place to get better and people get to be entertained. But first...

Put together a parlor show and practice it many times, then perform this new style for friends and family. Offer to do some free shows for friends that have children for their birthday.

You can also look into volunteering at a local hospital. I have done volunteer work at my local VA and the Children's hospital. It's another great place to improve. These volunteer venues are pretty forgiving so if you mess up you will learn how to recover and persevere.

And don't forget! Close up is a good way to do corporate events too, depending on the size of the function. You can stroll or do a formal close up show. You may want to try some formal close up children's shows, they're tons of fun and you get experience! In fact- close up is my favorite way to do children's parties. You get to get everyone involved and really connect with them. This will also teach you audience management.

Another thing you can do is try to get a restaurant gig doing table hopping. You get used to pocket management, meeting and performing for many new people and many of these people will begin to ask YOU, "Do you do corporate parties?"

That's when you can take the plunge and go for it! Hand them the business card you've been dying to hand out and there you are!

That's what I did anyway, and it's working out pretty well! :)

Welcome to the addiction Chris!


Message: Posted by: CJ_Magic205 (Nov 3, 2015 07:45PM)

Thank you so much for the wonderful advice! I have the bare bones of a parlor act that I'm beginning to assemble, and my thinking was along the lines of your first & second paragraphs, about doing kids shows and senior centers for free, since it gives me experience and they get to be entertained, which is a plus! The only thing deterring me was I one time had someone tell me not to do kids shows unless that's where I plan on going with my career, rather shoot for the target market right away, but that never made much sense to me.

Your comments about doing formal close-up and strolling at restaurants was something I had entirely overlooked, never thought about people asking ME if I did corporate parties (you're right, I'm already dying to hand out a business card, haha).

(Hopefully) I'll follow this template closely and it works out for me as well as it did for you!

Thanks again for the help!
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Nov 3, 2015 08:17PM)
You're welcome! Keep us posted on your progress!

Not doing a certain type of magic when you're first starting out?- It doesn't make much sense to me either. I think it's good to try as many types of magic as you can. That way you might discover something you never knew you liked and it broadens your horizons, gives you more experience and makes you a better over-all performer.

For instance- I'm still embarrassed about a post I made here years ago stating why I supposedly didn't like mentalism. I mean, it's okay to not like certain things, but I was way too new to magic to be making this assessment. I actually like and perform some mentalism stuff now after seeing the REACTIONS from the audience. So try it all and have fun!

Another for instance- I never thought I'd do balloon twisting, but I have some walk around gigs coming up in the spring and I'm starting to learn twisting now for those gigs. It can be a lucrative addition to a magic act, depending on the venue.

Take care!

Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (Nov 8, 2015 03:10PM)
I'm going to take a different tack and say that if your goal is college and corporate audiences then performing for kid's parties will not take you there. Yes, there are some transferable skills: putting a logical set together; managing the logistics of handling props before, during, and after shows; dealing with a potentially tough crowd.

But standing in front of 25 8-year-olds will not prepare you fully for standing on a stage in front of 500 college students. How will you know what that crowd responds to? How will you understand the dynamics of winning over that age group? How will you learn the interaction and connect those people respect? Not from elementary school kids.

Go to a local college or civic group and offer your services. Find a good cause - our local community college is fund-raising for their non-profit radio station, and a local school was helping a girl with cancer - that will put you in front of your target market. While you are making a name for yourself as a magician and a good guy, you are also learning how to stand in front of the people you want to perform for.

Just my thoughts.
Message: Posted by: DaveGripenwaldt (Nov 11, 2015 01:37PM)
I second Ed's comment on kids shows. Yes you should perform as much as possible, but kids shows are a different beast.

Volunteering is the way to go and getting those gigs is also about networking. Ask all your family and freinds if they have an entre to an appropriate audience group for you. Many people are involved with church groups, volunteer organizations, job relate associations, etc., and you won't know who and where until you ask. And though "cold calling" someplace is fine, if you have someone who knows you putting a good word in for you it's easier to get your foot in the door of a given venue.
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Nov 13, 2015 06:38PM)
Chris- I'm going to stand by my above comments and suggest kid shows for some of your first gigs for several reasons.

In your own words, you don't really have an act yet. The last thing you want to do is offer your services to local college groups or other organizations with ZERO experience other than close up for family and friends and no act. You need to do some kid shows for people you know so you can get your feet wet in the parlor/stand up/stage-like arena. You need to learn how to do a magic show, how to fail and overcome, how to practice and script, etc. You don't want to do this in front of the people you eventually want as your targeted, paying audience.

There are two reasons for this: 1. You suck, I'm not saying, "You suck," what I mean is, let's say you get an opportunity at a local college group or some other adult venue and you have no experience ever doing a magic show and worst case scenario- you suck. Not a good impression to make on your target audience. Can you see the people saying, "Hey remember that crap magician we had here last year, let's have him back!" This would also be a crushing experience for you- better to fail in a small group setting for friends and kids and learn from that. And- this failure hurts not just you and the people who suffer through it, but any other magicians in your area that are trying to get gigs and have to break through the barrier of people who have seen bad magicians. And, reason 2. You don't suck- this could be worse! Let's say you do really well, miraculously, at this great opportunity gig and you just kill. Well now you've marketed yourself as "Chris, the Free Magician!" Then, when you go back in the future and try to get a paying gig this network of people remember you doing it for free in the past. Just a thought, because you WILL want to volunteer for some of these groups later, after you get some basic experience.

The main reason I suggested kid shows for you is so you can just get your feet wet doing a magic show, period. My other suggestions will also help you learn to approach strangers, handle yourself, get over failure, handle a crowd, etc. Kid shows are not the avenue you eventually want to stick with for your target audience; of course, you want to move on to adult venues and volunteer opportunities, but it's a good place to start to learn how to be a magician. If you can control and entertain kids that is pretty much magic in itself! :)

Just get some more experience first in being a magician and then start the more adult/volunteer/college group/corporate searches. You can take your show experience and transfer it to more mature effects and scripting, but you are now comfortable in front of an audience. (But keep that close up in mind too! :) )

And start to think about the business side and marketing NOW when you're first starting, that is a big part of what you want to do successfully in the future.

Message: Posted by: CJ_Magic205 (Nov 14, 2015 03:10PM)
Hi Everyone,

Sorry I'm a bit late in my reply, but thank you everyone for the wise words! You've given me a lot to think about, I'm going to certainly have to go back and re-read this thread multiple times to digest it fully. While I see really strong merits in both points, Theodore is right, I don't even really have an act yet. I guess at this point my intended course of action is to figure out what material I want to be including in a stand-up show (something entirely new to me) and then performing it wherever I can. Going off of Ed and Dave's comments, if I weren't to do kids shows, would busking be a relevant avenue to start performing my act? (I'm not necessarily overly concerned with collecting a large hat, just honing an act here) so I was thinking I could perhaps try that avenue, learn what works and what doesn't, and fail (I know I will, a lot!), without a whole lot at stake.

I'm interested also in performing at a local senior center, its something that was brought up to me by a family member who doesn't do magic, and it seemed like a good idea. I was thinking of maybe volunteering there for family shows (kids included), just to get some performing experience. That way, if someone in the crowd happens to be in the corporate market (a parent, for instance), they may be potentially interested in having me do some corporate work.

Just my train of thought so far, again its all new to me, and I'm very eager to hear what you all have to say as I really would love as much advice as I can get!

Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (Nov 15, 2015 02:25PM)
"Senior center" can be a broad definition. Is this a senior day-care, non-care resident apartments, assisted living, nursing home, ???? I did a nursing home Friday - most residents in wheel chairs, some with varying degrees of dementia - very little interaction or response. Not much different than practicing in my room.

Thinking again about Theodore's comments - you can get experience with creating an act and some other aspects of a show, so it's not all bad. But to get a sense of satisfaction from a job well done, you'll need to invest time in those routines and audience management as fits that audience. Not a bad thing, and most skills are transferable. Busking isn't bad (I've seen good buskers, but never done it) - you've got to have an out-there unafraid persona.

Message: Posted by: CJ_Magic205 (Nov 19, 2015 08:42PM)
In this case, "Senior Center" is a sort of community center where seniors go to stay active in the community, and shows are frequently held there for family-type entertainment. It gets pretty busy, especially during the holidays, and I was thinking that this was a great time to get some performing experience under my belt.

Message: Posted by: charliemartin (Dec 15, 2015 01:55PM)
Consider a local shelter or mental hospital. Colleges? As a veteran of this market, you need a solid act of over an hour before you consider this market.