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Profile of MagicKev
I'll be performing a 45 minute comedy/magic act during the awards dinner at my company's annual client conference in two weeks. There will be 750 people attending the event. I'm not a professional magician, but I've had some experience performing in front of previous large audiences (up to 120 people), but never this large.

Because I work for one of the largest online marketing companies in the country, there will be lots of industry bloggers/writers in attendance. Needless to say, I'm somewhat nervous, but even more excited.

Does anyone have any advice for me?

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Landrum, S.C. by way of Chicago
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Profile of Stanyon
Start drinking heavily!

But seriously, if you know your material cold just try to relax and enjoy yourself.

Cheers! (Break a leg!)

aka Steve Taylor

"Every move a move!"

"If you've enjoyed my performance half as much as I've enjoyed performing for you, then you've enjoyed it twice as much as me!"
Andy the cardician
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A street named after my dad
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Profile of Andy the cardician
First of all - congrats for getting such a nice opportunity - so enjoy it, no matter what you do.

As you have a very large audience, you need some very visual tricks that play big. Torn and restored newspaper, silk production etc.

Will there be a screen for the audience?

Cards never lie
Ace of $pades
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Profile of Ace of $pades
Do you have a lot of money? What about an assistant? If so... DO METAMORPHOSIS. Escapes are great for large audiences.
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Profile of wardini
I'm panicking for you already.

It does sound like a great opportunity though. I have never done anything more than about 80 so I can't give you any great pearls of wisdom but I'd start with something either self working or that you are %200 comfortable with. Then just enjoy.

Please do let us know what you end up doing and how it all goes.
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Profile of jimhlou
Hi MagicKev:

Forget about the audience and just have fun. You'll be great.

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Profile of MagicKev
Thanks for the words of encouragement.

I'm performing a variation on two separate routines that I've performed before for large audiences (about 100+). In a previous performance I came up with the title of "Drunken Magic," which I'll be using again. I perform with a martini in my hand for much of the act, and open with quite a few jokes around the secret "principle of magic" that I reveal to the audience - "Intoxication enhances one's powers of prestidigitation. Of course, I'm not referring to my intoxication."

I then go on to set up a prediction routine using a jumbo invisible deck and a crystal ball that involves everyone in the audience thinking of a card, and then me throwing beach balls into the crowd to select the card. I set up the trick, have everyone think of a card, and then seal the unopened deck inside a clear plastic case, which I set on a stand throughout the rest of the act, until the end when I select the card and reveal my "prediction."

I then peform a variation on "Bank Night" in which I claim to be able to "control people's minds." It involves bringing up five people from the audience, whom I have randomly selected by passing out custom created chocolate bars that contain the name of my company on the label. Inside five of the bars are five "golden tickets." The finders of the tickets join me up on stage.

I'll then run off stage and do a quick change off-stage (from a full tuxedo to jeans and a t-shirt) , returning in less than 30 seconds to complete the rest of the invisible deck routine. I'll claim that I "forgot" about finishing up the card trick ("Blame it on the booze!"), and was just changing to head to the "after-party" to take advantage of the "open bar."

Throughout the act I tell jokes, accompanied by about 15 different music tracks.

I'm very confident that the magic part of the act will go well. I guess I'm more concerned at this point about remembering my "script" and the logistics of passing out the 750 chocolate bars and doing the quick change.

I will heed your advice and try to relax and enjoy the moment.

It really is a chance of a lifetime for someone who grew up idolizing Copperfield and Henning. At the risk of sounding corny, it really feels like a dream is coming true for me. At forty years old I'm getting an opportunity to be a professional magician.
Noel M
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San Rafael. CA
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Profile of Noel M
I've done a lot of public speaking unrelated to magic and I think large crowds are easier than small. Because it's less intimate you have a greater protective barrier from the audience than if it was a smaller setting. Comedy works better in a large group. There is truth to the notion that laughter is infectious. Once you get some people laughing more will join in. I use the 10% formula, that is, 10% of a group will laugh at almost anything remotely humorous. If their are 10 people the less than on is laughing; not so good. Out of 100, 10 will laugh causing others to join in; better. At 750, you'll have 75 minimum, and assuming you really are funny, you'll be rolling!

I always tell people who have stage fright (I'm not suggesting that you do,) that contrary to what we may think, an audience isn't they enemy; it wants you to succeed. They want to have fun they're with you from the start. So you can relax and have fun too.
jay leslie
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Profile of jay leslie
It is always a thought to add something new to the act right before your next big performance.

Try to resist that urge with every fiber in your body. Perform what you already know and add or change your show one aspect at a time.

Also. Get out the video camera and practice in front or it from three angles. Many people are amazed at how they percieve themselves and how they actually look.

Call ahead to the venue and talk to the manager about your requirements.
The last thing you want, is to show up and they tell you to start performing while people eating, while on the middle of the dance floor with people surronding you, while the music is blairing from the overhead speakers, where there is no light, and with 10 foot tall mirrors behind them.

You may need to change your arangements, based on the phone call, including possibly not performing stand up and switching to close-up (which happens occasionally) but you want the best performance for the client and yourself. You know what you need and you are the only one who will speak up for yourself.

Finally, If you are nerviou. have the boss introduce you as a coworker who loves to perform magic and this is the first time he will be in front of so many people.
If you get that introduction then the audience will be completely on your side, even if you catch someone on fire, and you will be accecpted as someone with the ability to get uo in front of a group of people.

The biggest fear people have is the fear of heights, The second is public speaking. The audience will appreciate anything you do because they can't imagine themselves up on the stage.

Without bursting any bubbles, a costume change shoyld be performed in two seconds. If you leave the stage for 20 or 30 seconds you might as well call it a day. I would cut that part out. Consider 12 minutes. The shorter the better - leave them wanting more.
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Profile of MagicKev
Thanks for all of the great advice.

I've performed part of the act for some of the people who will be attending, so I know they will definitely laugh at the jokes. I'm also counting on the fact that many of the people who are attending know me, so will naturally be on my side. The open bar before and during dinner should help to loosen everyone up as well. My appearance is a surprise to all but a few of the people attending the conference, so that should help as well - no one will be expecting to see me come out an do stand-up and magic.

I'm also presenting that afternoon at a "straight" educational session at the conference in front of about 200-300 people (I did so last year as well), so that should help to put me at ease the day of the performance.

I've been on communication with the person organizing the event, and I've attended the dinner three times in the past, so I'm very familiar with the setting.

30 Seconds might seem like a long time for the costume change, but I should have clarified that someone will be following immediately after me on stage to hand out our client awards, so my returning to "wrap things up" won't need to happen so quickly. In fact, it will be funnier if I come back and interrupt to "finish my act."

I've been practicing everyday for weeks and will do a run through with some colleagues next week. I'm determined not to be nervous and just enjoy the moment. From experience, I know that as soon as I hear them laughing I'll know that "I have them" and I'll be in control. I'm a major type A person, so as long aas I feel in control I'll be fine.

I'll let you all know how it turns out.

Thanks again for the kind words of support!
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Profile of RJE
Hi MagicKev

Hope this is a great success for you!

On the slightly down side though, I would also agree with Jay about the time of the quick change. If you are off stage for 30 seconds, then it is no longer a quick change. The audience may, or may not, notice or at least appreciate the work you have done to accomodate the change.

Perhaps you would want to consider an alternative presentation that incorporates the quick change and the interruption you desire? If it is a 30 second (+) change, perhaps consider returning to the stage in some sort of a more outrageous costume, like pajama bottoms and t-shirt or superhero costume or ... This can fit your "drunken" persona and the incongruity can provide the laugh.

Just a thought. Whatever you decide (it is your show) best of luck and hope it is a great one!

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South African in Taiwan
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Profile of abc
Don't think of it as a quick costume change and don't sell it as that. Think of it as a normal costume change and part of the show. A quick change should e done in less than 10 seconds (2 is a little rough b ut very close to the truth) so just stroll back on stage (that is the impression I am getting in any case) and finish of what you started. It sounds great so best of luck.
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Profile of kendavis
I have been in your shoes and I felt the same way. I went from performing for an average of 75 people to doing a motivational show for a local insurance company. The audience was well over 800. Jay offers excellent advice. Many of us have had to learn the hard way!

Just one more thing. If you make a mistake in the earlier show don't let it get you down for your big performance. Pass it off as "better now then later".

You are not alone if you get nervous and excited. Talk to the super stars and most will tell you they still get rush before performing! It goes away in a few minutes after starting your routine.

"Professional" can mean many different things. I have a hunch that you perform equally as well or better than many so called professionals!

Best of luck!
Justin Style
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Profile of Justin Style
Good Luck.
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south of atlanta
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Profile of HowaboutBob
45 minutes can seem like an eternity for you and them if you're not prepared and ready. So go out and nail it. Rehearse and rehearse some more.

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Profile of Aldinuin
Best of luck to you, my friend! Remember, just have fun with it!
Justin Style
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Profile of Justin Style
May I ad, if you only have 22 minutes of good stuff, better to do that and get off the stage than stretch out something just to fill the time.
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Profile of MagicKev
Thanks again for all of the feedback and advice.

I've been practicing everyday, so I've pretty much got the act down pat.

The act I'm doing is actually a combination of 2 different routines that I've performed in the past a few times (including earlier this summer for audiences of about 50 people). I'm confident that the material is good - it always gets lots of laughs. There is also enough audience participation throughout to keep everyone engaged. For example, early on I ask everyone to think of a card, and announce that anyone could be chosen later in the show to reveal their card. I also pass out chocolate bars to everyone (all 750+) and have them open them to find the "golden tickets." Finally, I end with two beach balls being tossed through the audience to find two people to reveal the cards they were asked to think of earlier.

I just found out today that they might have a video screen set up and videotape the performance. If they do I'll post a portion of it on YouTube so you all can see it.

I'll keep you posted - the big night is just one week from Monday.
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