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Inner circle
Kalamazoo, Mi.
2537 Posts

Profile of Jaxon
I think what I'm about to go over is a very common mistake magicians make. I know I'm guilty of overlooking this aspect of being an entertainer until I finally learned my lesson. So I thought I'd share this with you all because it's an area of being an entertainer that's so often overlooked and not discussed as much as it should be.

To try and give an example of what I'm talking about. Picture any well known stage entertainer. Anyone who performs on stage and talks to their audiences. For example a comedian, magician, singer, etc... Now, if this entertainer is well known they can just walk out and start talking to their audience. They'll often get a standing ovation just for being introduces. This is because they are already established with their audience. They all know who they are and what they are about because he/she is the reason they came to the show in the first place.

Very few magicians are that well established in main stream. Today we have a small hand full of them such as Copperfield, Angel and Siegfried and Roy (I know S&R aren't currently performing but they are still established and would get that standing ovation if they are introduced in public today).

This also applies to magicians who are "Famous" among magicians. If you are at a magicians gathering such as a convention. Some magicians can get that standing ovation just for being introduced because the audience is almost all magicians. They are established within the magic community. But even those magicians aren't usually all that known in main stream and wouldn't get as warm a welcome with a non-magician audience.

This means that most of us magicians should put some thought into establishing ourselves with our audiences. They may have seen that fancy advertisement for your show, or a flyer/poster with your picture. They may have even read articles about us. But they still haven't seen or experienced what we do. Until they have then we really aren't established in their minds as something they'd enjoy.

Here's what I think happens to a lot of magicians (Myself included until I learned my lesson). We plan out a show and while thinking about it it's impossible for your mind to not have small glimpses of other performers we've seen. Most likely another magician who is famous (Either in main stream or among magicians). So they'll plan their act like they've seen others do. They picture themselves walking out, making a long dialog and the audience is laughing at what is being said. But then when the show actually happens and they present that long opening dialog the audience is bored stiff. Why? because unless you're an expert story teller the audience will have a hard time connecting with that long dialog because the magician hasn't yet established themselves. They came to see a magician after all and that means they expect to experience things that are amazing, funny, puzzling, exciting, mysterious.

Now let's look at an act in which the magician has established themselves properly. They came out and did something that cause the audience to react. The audience laughed, gasped, cried. What kind of reaction doesn't really matter but the performer did do something to cause them to react. Now, the magician is established and if a long dialog is needed for a routine then the audience is more likely to be interested in what the magician has to say because they now have an opinion of them.

So when planning your show my suggestion is to think about this. What do you want your audience to think of you? What do you want your act to be known for. IF you want them to laugh as much as possible then make them laugh right away. If you want them to see you as a very mysterious performer then present yourself as that from the very beginning. Once this is established then you have more freedom in your show. The sooner you establish yourself the better the rest of your show will be.

Ron Jaxon

After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
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Eternal Order
11209 Posts

Profile of JamesTong
Thanks for sharing, Ron. Really great and valuable info magicians should read and pay attention to.
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Inner circle
NJ, U.S.
6112 Posts

Profile of Jaz
That's something I too have thought about.

Most of who you mention already have a reputation so the audiences are already in an enthusiastic state of mind.

I agree when you say, "What do you want your audience to think of you?" and that's fine. That's where you can begin to establish yourself as a A-list performer.
It takes time to build a reputation.
So where do you go from there in order to become "established"?
Ads, billboards, radio and TV announcements?
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Inner circle
Harrisburg, PA
1432 Posts

Profile of mmreed
Becoming connected with your crowd and having them like you is the key trait in successful street busking... this same principle applies to pretty much any type of performing.

The audience needs to see you as someone they connect with - not just a guy up there making cards appear in his hands... so many magicians do the "LOOK AT ME...LOOK AT WHAT I CAN DO" approach... and it doesn't work...

You need to think "Look at this, wow, you and I are seeing something great..." and you need to make them laugh... people want to laugh and forget about things in real life... serious magic only holds them for a short time... laughter can keep them all night....

Make them like you
Make them laugh
Make them not want to leave your show...
Mark Reed
Wedding and Event Entertainment
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Elite user
Boston area
462 Posts

Profile of rgranville
On his great video set Nothing (completely mismarketed by L&L, but that's another post...), Max Maven said that when he sees a magician, he asks himself three questions:

1. Who is this person?
2. What story is he telling?
3. Why is it worth my time?

If you're not answering these questions as soon as you're in front of your audience, then you've answered the third.

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Inner circle
Yuma, AZ
2290 Posts

Profile of Ed_Millis
On 2008-12-15 09:45, rgranville wrote:
1. Who is this person?
2. What story is he telling?
3. Why is it worth my time?

If you're not answering these questions as soon as you're in front of your audience, then you've answered the third.

*wurf!* That's a big bite to chew on!!

For No. 1, ~I~ have to know who I am on that stage if I am going to communicate that to the audience. So before you've ever had the chance to wow them with a trick, your audience is going to like you or not based on the character that stands up in front of them - and probably just about that quick, too!

For No. 2, I need more than "pick a card - here it is!" I've got to have a routine that engages the audience - or more correctly makes them want to give me their attention. Just being up there with a wand or cards or my chicken does not entitle me to their respect and attention.

There's more to work on here than a false shuffle! Thanks, Ron, for something to think deeply about.

Allan Bright
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Regular user
134 Posts

Profile of Allan Bright
As usual Ron, your insights are very interesting.

Thanks for sharing.
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Elite user
Boston area
462 Posts

Profile of rgranville
For No. 1, ~I~ have to know who I am on that stage if I am going to communicate that to the audience.

Yes, Ed, you've got it! If you haven't answered these questions for yourself, there is no way you can answer them for the audience.

Father Photius
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Grammar Host
El Paso, TX (Formerly Amarillo)
17198 Posts

Profile of Father Photius
Excellent and very insightful, Ron. Without a connection to the audience you are like an appliance that isn't plugged in, just a non functioning dust collector.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
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Regular user
182 Posts

Profile of kendavis
Jaxon, thanks for the reminder. Due to a major booking from a big corporation, I just did 6 Christmas shows 5 days in a row (2 on the last day). That is an unusual pace for me. I was tired especially after changing a flat tire on thy way to the last and biggest show. I walked out and reversed my usual start. I started to introduce myself when I got blank stares from the audience. I didn't know why until I realized what I had done....forgot to do the opening trick! I thought I was the only person who could make such a foolish mistake.

No matter how experienced we may be, a review trip to the beginners forum will do us all well from time to time.
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Eternal Order
24107 Posts

Profile of Dynamike
Well said, Ron.

I also like how Lesson 20 "How to Please Your Audience" of Book 2 in Tarbell Course In Magic reads.
Steven True
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Special user
Bonney Lake,WA
765 Posts

Profile of Steven True
Something that we all need and is overlooked so often. I am really going to re think my, "who I am" ideas. As usual something here at the Café' that all of us can learn from. Thank you Ron.

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