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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » The Audience Went To Sleep! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Leland Stone
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Well, okay, only part of 'em nodded off at yesterday afternoon's show. And they were up past their nap time. AND the ones that thought the show was a snooze were 80 years old or so...it WAS in a retirement home, after all.

But I have to admit that this was a new development for which I was not quite prepared.
Overall, the gig was quite satisfying, and I'd do another. Comments? Suggestions? Ridicule? Smile

Leland
Al Angello
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Leland
You not only put them to sleep, but nursing homes are famous for low pay, so you probibly did it for 1/2 what you usually get. My mom died of ALZ in a nursing home, and I think of her when I accept those low pay jobs. Always remember that if you are lucky you will live that long. My dad lives in a facility where there are 100 apartments, but only 5 men, my dad is an 89 year old chick magnet.
He's a lucky ducky
Al Angello
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JackScratch
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If you live that long you "might" be lucky. I'm not looking to hit 40 and die of a heart attack, but I know plenty of people who have regreted outliving all of their friends and their ability to enjoy life. Be careful what you wish for.
Darius666
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That brings back memories of my worst ever show. It was in a retirement home, where everyone was over 70.

When they booked me (and it was cheap pay) they forgot to tell me that most of them were sadly mentally ill and could not really understand what was happening.

The ones that where ok mentaly, were blind! Which I only found out when I asked someone to pick a card!

It certainly was an experience. Still, at least I got paid.
RandyStewart
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Yes I have a comment. If it were me in that rest home I'd appreciate a magician or any form of occasional entertainment far more than you realize.

Very noble of you to share your time and talents as you did.

I've never performed in that setting but I once sat in an audience of elderly at a retirement home! Yep. An old aunt of mine was a resident and we were visiting when they rushed her off to the rec room for the show. We followed closely. Hey, not matter where I am, I'm always game for a magic show.

The performer was good and no stranger to the setting. His own mother was a resident and in the audience. She had Alzheimer’s disease.

Halfway through the 30 min. show, a loud resident, descriptively using his hands, said to his neighbor "No, no, no...He made the scarf disappear and it reappeared between the other two!"

His friend nodding his head, smartly crossing his arms, leaned back in his chair and said "Ah! I see, I see, I see!".

Only problem with that was it was eight tricks ago! LOL!

Of course I'm in the rear laughing like the psych resident nut.

Following the show the magician spent time with everyone. I can tell ya they like him a lot and I can see why.
drwilson
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I've done some volunteer work in a nursing home setting in a VA hospital, mostly strolling from room to room. One thing that really worked well for me was starting with something very simple, no magic involved. I have an antique Roller Organ, circa 1880-1890. When old folks see me treating this antique with respect and talking about how they don't make things to last anymore, they are very warm to me about how a young guy like me (hardly!) is interested in old things, and by extension, in old people. Some of them are a bit out of it but they like the music. If they are more alert, I go on to magic. If not, I wish them a good day and move on.

It's harder when there are a lot of them in one room, but usually those folks are more alert and active than the ones who won't leave their rooms. Savor the satisfaction of these engagements, and know that you have made a huge difference for some of them.

Besides, Leland, it wasn't a setup to bust you! I am still trying to get over that story!

Yours,

Paul
Leland Stone
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Smile

Good points, Magi!

No, I wasn't facing a crowd that was armed, I did get paid, it was another opportunity to perform (thus feeding my inner "ham"), they seemed to like the show...and yeah, maybe there was something a little more at work than strictly a commercial transaction.

And, oh boy, was it fun to see the sweet little resident cocker spaniel pooch turn Cujo when he got a load of my fedora Smile


Thanks for the input, guys!
magic4u02
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One thing people sometimes forget is that falling asleep or dozing off may not always be seen as such a bad thing by us magicians. I was performing with a friend in a similar situation and we noticed a few folks drifting off during the performance. We were sort of taken back by the situation as we felt the show was pretty good and customized for them.

It was not until after the show that we realized (from one of the nurse staff) that many of the folks have high anxiety about life at that age and some have experienced quite some scarey things with their health that past year that many of them simply could not sleep at night. She told us that the only time some of them can get to sleep or rest is when they are in a total state of relaxtion and calmness.

So what we took as a negative really became a positive for us. In a way they were engaged in the show enough to be enjoying it that they relaxed their minds and were able to rest when they often times could not.

I am certainly not saying this is always the case, but sometimes what I see as a bad thing in many ways may not be a bad thing at all.

In other ways, some of these folks can not often express the joy and happiness that we often want in regards to applause and such. Their bodies may just not allow them do what they want to do or to express how much they like your show. However, trust me when I say they do enjoy it and it does make a difference. Simply by you being there and giving of your time to entertain them, they will be grateful.

I just thought I would share the story since it is very similar to what you experienced yourself.

Kyle
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The Village Idiots
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I always say, "They have laughed and clapped enought in their life, that doesn't mean they don't enjoy the show."

I'm not long winded, and often my posts are ignored. I'm starting to feel like that audience. What I have to say just doesn't matter. Why do I bother? Perhpaps I should spend more of my time looking at porn.
Some are born idiots.

Some are made idiots.

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magic4u02
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You are not ignored. lol I actually think what you said makes a lot of sense. They do not always have to clap or shout to tell you they appreciate what you do. If you look many of them will be smiling and such. That is a great way of saying thank you in my book.

Kyle
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Tony S
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I've got to say, I've never performed in a nursing home before. You are all making me want to try it. It sounds like it could be a nice, uplifting experience.....even if the audience does fall asleep!
We are all about as successful as we choose to be.



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RandyStewart
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Quote:
On 2006-01-28 23:27, The Village Idiots wrote:
I'm not long winded,


It's no bigee. If it's not the genes it's probably something in the water you drink.

Quote:
and often my posts are ignored. I'm starting to feel like that audience. What I have to say just doesn't matter. Why do I bother?


I've enjoyed your posts though! In fact I've read and followed your journal regarding your experiences performing on cruise ships. Followed that craziness since day one when you arrived (forget the port) at the first gig with no one to pick you up. Remember that? Of course you do.

Good stories from a couple of working pros on the life of cruise ship entertainment. Thanks.

And you thought they weren't watching.
Bill Scarlett
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Performing for elderly folks may not be as rewarding as being in front of a group of howling ten year olds, but it does have its benefits.

I have done many shows for older people and, yes, some have dozed off and others have talked loudly with their neighbors. Usually they say in a loud voice, "What did he say?" or something along those lines.

Magic is a gift that we have that can be given to people freely, or at a reduced rate and I believe that old folks need and benefit from our talents. I haven't made as much money at nursing homes, but the comments and seeing them brighten up even for a few moments are priceless.

Of course I love the compliments I recieve such as "You ought to be on Mike Douglass or Johnny Carson." I don't have the heart to tell them that they aren't on the air any longer. Overall, it's well worth the effort.
The Village Idiots
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Wow, thanks Randy. I was in a sensitive mood that day and sometimes I feel like cellophane man around here.

I'm amazed you have followed the journal. It's just gotten crazier. There have been many times no one was there to pick us up. We have learned how to make it on our own now. Have you read about the lost luggage? That was a trip. We substituted 6 zucchinis for knives. The show must go on. So, I suppose I'll keep posting.

Bill reminded me of something...
My first payed gig was not a birthday party it was a retirement community. I was 12. For many years I would do a few of them a year. Not much pay but very rewarding. After the show the folks would all tell me how much they enjoyed the show and that I reminded them of Johnny Carson. I don't resemble him at all but they knew he did magic so it was their connection to what I do. I remember being stunned with the complements as they were so quite during the show. That's when I decided the elderly had made enough noise in there life and now just wanted to sit back and enjoy.

The saddest was a convalescent center show. They are the people too sick to be in retirement homes. I had a gentleman pass away during my show. The orderlies came in and took him out, while waving me on to continue. I just thought he was asleep but found out later what had happened. I had to sit down for a while and soak it in.

I suppose when my time is up it wouldn't be a bad thing to go while watching a show. I just hope it's a better one than mine.
Some are born idiots.

Some are made idiots.

Some have idiocy thrust upon them.
Steven Steele
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I perform once a year for a local home. I set up in the afternoon and perform after dinner. They provide me a dinner and I meet the greatest people. Last year I met a woman who had been an English professor in literature at UCLA. She was fascinating and we talked for a half an hour. I always perform for free, because I know they can't afford it, but mainly because I have so much fun with the residents.

As for volunteers, one of my conditions for performing is to have as much staff there to help out. The residents love seeing the staff assisting the magician...and the staff loves it as they become celebrities for the night.

You might remember that sometimes these people fall asleep because of their medication. Not many of them remember the show, but that only means I can do the same one next year. I think it's very rewarding, but different.

As for payment, as I said, I do this one for free. At the first of each year I write letters to a few charities that I believe in and support. I offer my services to them for free. Then when I get called by someone who wants me to perform for free, I simply tell them that I have my charities already lined up for the year that I donate my services to. Makes life much simpler.
rikbrooks
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I like to perform for a nursing home on Grandparent Day. The ones with incipent dementia can be, well, interesting. I was doing a Zombie routine, practicing keeping the ball still in space while the hands move all around it when this tiny lady got out of her seat in the front row, walked up to the performance area, and as she walked past me simply took my Zombie AND the foulard! I was left there waving a wire and a cork around! She ambled off to her room and fell asleep. The nurses retrieved the Zombie for me.

Then there was the lady that kept yelling, "He'p me!He'p me!He'p me!". I stopped and asked her what I could do for her. She looked at me like I was crazy. I simply smiled at her and walked away. When I got about 20 feet away I heard, "He'p me!He'p me!He'p me!"
Al Angello
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I had dinner with my mother-in-law at the home recently where I always do tricks for the residents, and staff. An old gentleman asked me to do a trick for him and his wife. I asked the woman if we ever met, she said no, so I did stargazer for her. When I gave her the star shaped rubber band she was shocked, and told me "I found one of these rubber bands on my bureau yesterday. Did you put it in my bed room". Her husband assured her that I gave it to her last week.
Al Angello
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jgravelle
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Years ago, while dressed as Santa, I passed through the nursing ward on my way from a children's benefit at a local hospital.

A nurse grabbed my arm and asked if I'd come into a room. An elderly lady in the latter stages of dementia had spoken for the first time in weeks upon seeing me. The patient took my hand and kept saying "I know you... I know you..."

I told her it was wonderful seeing her "again", and smiled, making the smallest of small talk until she released my hand and relaxed back into her semi-catatonic state.

Don't assume your audience is unappreciative. Their naps may be filled with memories of carnival magicians from their childhood that you inspired. Behind that blank stare may be smiles you can't see, and applause you can't hear.

There are plenty of venues that pay better, but few that are more rewarding. I admire and commend you for taking that job, and encourage everybody who is able to follow your lead.


Regards,

-jjg
Leland Stone
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<<<<<<<<<there's a mook made humble and thoughtful upon reading your responses, Magi
Doug Higley
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I had originally posted this Jul of 04 but I think it belongs here at this point...

In the late 60's I had an act I was doing at parties, showcases etc...Stage Magic and Escapes. There was this old folks home in Staten Island NY and I got the bright idea to put on a Variety show for them.
The date was set...I had talked 2 other performers into coming the long trip from NY City to lend their talents...a juggler (great act but I forget the name) and a musician/clown (also forget) any way...the day came...we had the hall...we set up and about 30 minutes before show time the RAIN came down like I have never seen (even to this day!)...a huge storm. Well showtime passed and NOBODY was in the seats. The juggler was getting really ticked off and began to pack up...then...as if in a Spielberg movie...I looked out the window and here they came...in the heavy rain...walking...limping...being pushed in their wheel chairs...with canes...a mob of them...coming over the hill. Suddenly behind them came a gaggle of attendents running with towels! Eventually busses with more old folks.

Seems the director of the home had canceled the show! And stopped the loading of the busses! (Didn't bother to tell us though!) BUT, there was no way these folks were going to miss their show! Not this day!

The auditorium wound up packed and SRO with the most responsive audience I ever had. When I called for a volunteer for the Guilloteen an ancient lady came up and went through the business and was very funny and perfect with all the cues I had given her. Turns out she had been the assistant to a big time Illusionist.

Needless to say, we made their day...maybe their year and they made ours. Later...working in front of half attentive (at best) night club crowds, this always stuck with me as the highlight of a spotty career.

To those of you who work the Old Folks Homes doing a free show know what I'm talking about.
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