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Topic: Becoming Self Aware
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Jul 20, 2004 07:32PM)
Among other children’s entertainers I have seen performing, I have met some that had bad body odor or very stinky breath. I have seen one performer that was quite camp, although not gay he was camp to the extent it gave people a slightly creepy feeling. I have even seen a performer that wore an outfit that tended to flash his testicles whenever he sat down.

In each case the performers were likely totally unaware that they were creating a bad impression of themselves. This got me thinking, what if I was doing something like that, something I was unaware of. There are certain negative things we could do that people would be far too polite to ever tell us.

As another example I heard of a mentalist that used to pronounce a particular word incorrectly and used that word in his act for many years before someone told him.

I guess this sort of thing is a reminder that sometimes we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and maybe look for things we don’t expect to see. Has anyone an experience they would like to share of discovering negative things about their act that they had been unaware of.

I am a strong believer in the importance of video taping your act and watching it yourself. The simple act of watching yourself perform on video can be one of the best things you can do to improve your performance. Last Christmas was the last time I had my show recorded. I was looking for tweaks that could improve the show, so I sent copies of the recording to several friends from the Café here and asked them to make some directors notes of how my show could be improved. Everyone provide valuable feedback (except for Nicholas Johnson who apparently has a couple of pages of critique notes I have not seen yet. I guess he still has to get a Round Tuit). The feedback I did receive was awesome and led to many small improvements that I would never have picked up without the video.

When I first saw the video I thought it was fantastic. Now I cringe every time I see it because all the mistakes appear so obvious to me now.

This is a process I would highly recommend to anyone that has not done if before. In fact if you consider yourself a professional performer, it is probably something you should do on a regular basis.
Message: Posted by: PROFED (Jul 20, 2004 08:24PM)
Great Post. I was fortunate to have a good teacher, who became a mentor and good friend. He would work with me on various parts of my act at the time but the days of enlightenment came when he reviewed the video tapes of several performances. He then would go over his notes and observations of my timing, blocking and use of spectators as well as adlibs in response events in the show. I didn't like him or me for a while afterwards. But My act sure improved. Like you if I look at some of those types now, I cringe.
Message: Posted by: rsummer27 (Jul 20, 2004 09:38PM)
My girlfriend likes to point out everything I do wrong. She tells me if she doesn't like my hair, if there is a problem with my make-up, if she doesn't like the colors that I picked out for my new clown costume, if she doesn't like a joke I use in my act. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jul 20, 2004 11:47PM)
Hey Andy!
I thought I sent you the notes!

Sorry! I'll email them

Or post them here so everyone can see what I think....;)

I find it very hard to take criticism, even from myself. I HATE watching videos of myself and only did it recently so I could edit a promo video.

However, we SHOULD do it, because no audience member is going to say, you smell (I have a smellevision so I can smell myself on video) or your shoes need a shine or your hair cut looks stupid or any of the LITTLE things that need to be fixed!
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Jul 21, 2004 03:41PM)
When my first son was 5 in 1990 he shared a party with another kid who's dad had a video business, so the whole thing was done from start to finish. I was both pleased and embarrassed at myself really. Pleased at just how hard I worked and the command and control I exercised. Embarrassed because I thought certain use of voice and mannerisms slightly camp. Now 14 years later, deeper voice, probably slightly intimidating looking when not working - who cares! Cleanliness very, very important though. Done two shows today (Wed.) Very hot day here. Complete change of clothes, hair wash etc. in between.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Dec 14, 2004 10:57AM)
Also be aware of hair -- nose, ear, eyebrows. The older we get, the more this creeps up on people. I once had a guy do a vanishing dime that reappeared in his old, hairy ear! Well-manicured hands are also essential.

Videotaping is an excellent idea. I have a show of myself on a telethon back in college. I was just transferring all my tapes to DVD and watched it again. AAAHHHHH! It was terrible ... but there was also hope as I know how far I have come over the years.

I once met a Vegas close-up guy, very well respected, now deceased. He was the house magician at a Vegas hotel for many, many years. When I met him I almost dropped ... his breath smelled like wild ape dung. To think he was entertaining people during dinner! Yuk ....

As an aside, apparently "camp" means something different in the UK than here in the states? You're implying it means "gay" there?
Message: Posted by: Avrakdavra (Dec 14, 2004 12:12PM)
I think the American usage most clearly matches this definition: "...providing sophisticated amusement by virtue of having artificially (and vulgarly) mannered or banal or sentimental qualities." It is often, though not exclusively, associated with aspects of gay culture. When male performers play something "camp," that association is particularly strong.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 14, 2004 07:34PM)
Great topic. As a magician we often spend so much energy on our show and getting every bit correct that we forget about the overall impression we make goes FAR beyond the tricks and the show we perform.

We have to not only have a great show but we also must be aware that impressions and the impression you make on any client goes beyond the show.

You must look your best and be professional in your attire. Look professional, be clean, wear a good outfit for the ocassion. If you are changing into your outfit at a later time, make sure that what you wear to the show before getting changed, is also nice.

This sounds silly, but make sure you shave and wash before a show. Put on some cologne or perfume a bit and make yourself presentable.

Even the way you speak and handle yourself when you get to the event makes an impression. Greet them with a smile and a handshake and be pleasant. Treat everyone as if every person at that event is the client.

Some people just are not aware of how they look or appear when doing a performance. If this is the case, as mentioned, get in the habit of video taping yourself. Then be critical of how you looked and how you reacted . You can learn a lot that way.

Also, do NOT be afriad to ask people you care and trust to come to see your show. Ask them to be looking for the impression you are presenting and be very open and honest about it. These will all help you be a better performer on and off the stage.

Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Dec 14, 2004 08:38PM)
Great post Andy. I try my best to have video of all my shows, whether is it for promo video or for self-evaluation.

My illusionist friend told me that if you begin to dislike your latest show on your video, it means that you have improved.

P.S. Body odor... Hmm... I always have a deodorant in my performance case. :)
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Dec 14, 2004 10:54PM)
Yes, video, video, video, and don't let those tapes gather dust!

I recently saw a 15-year-old tape of the same birthday show I do today - I sell it the same way and describe the same features. But who was that guy in the tape? Where did he get all that energy? How did those really great funny bits get replaced ... some of them by far less funny bits?
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Dec 15, 2004 02:16AM)
<<<How did those really great funny bits get replaced ... some of them by far less funny bits?>>>

Ahh is that your opinion or the kids? it sounds like your show has naturally evolved in reaction to the audience.

kids often find things funny which we don't, that's why it's imposssible to totaly script a routine at home. Even the same gag can get a different reaction in a different routine.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 15, 2004 06:45PM)
Clive is 100% right on this. You can never totally script a routine at home. Every time you think you will get a laugh, you may not. Or you may get laughs at points you never realized. The best way is to simply try the routine out and see the repsonses you get.

By video taping it, you really can study it a lot more and find out why situations happened in the routine. How can I get those laughs every time and how can I fix problem areas.

You also need to learn to adapt the routine. By this, you will realize that not every performance and audience is ever the same. You need to be able to adapt the script of the routine depending upon how it is going over with that particular audience. This certainly comes with time and just being out there a lot.

Message: Posted by: RonCalhoun (Dec 15, 2004 10:45PM)
On 2004-07-20 22:38, rsummer27 wrote:
She tells me... if there is a problem with my make-up.

Now that's something a man doesn't hear everyday.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Dec 16, 2004 12:18AM)
After a few days of having a very dicky tummy, I'm very aware of inpending personal disaster before /during/ and after a show, and the odourous effect it could have on my rep.

We have two guy's round here who stink, not the unfortunate temporary problem plagueing me at the moment, but BO, and one guy who's a vegitarion, who doesn't use toothpaste, his breath smells like he's been drinking Rum and has just thrown up.

they only seem to work for people once.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 16, 2004 07:02AM)
Clive makes a good point. We need to be able to self-evaluate ourself and our appearance and be concious of how we act and how we look etc. when we are out in public at a performance etc.

Take care in looking your best, brushing your teeth etc. All the little things we often take for granted can really be important on the impression you are making or not making with the client.