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Inner circle
Yuma, AZ
2290 Posts

Profile of Ed_Millis
I was recently at an anniversary party for a couple from church. They and many of our friends are Hispanic, and we are about 10 miles from Mexico, so they hired a Mariachi-style karioki singer. He was an excellent performer - had all his music down pat, all his audience interactions, a complete style encompassing his singing, costume, and actions.

Unfortunately, the guy was a bit out of his element. While many in the crowd were Hispanic, only about 25% spoke Spanish. The rest of us had no clue what he was trying to get us to sing! It was obvious he was used to a "looser" or "lubricated" crowd, not a close-knit conservative Christian crowd. Only one or two would sing with him, and only once did he get one of the ladies to dance with him.

In my opinion, whoever hired this performer didn't do a very good job of matching the performer to the venue. And he did not ask enough questions to know what he would be coming into. I asked a friend about one of his songs: "It's giving advice to the man on how to kill his wife to get another girl". Great song, got some laughs, well-sung - wrong act, wrong crowd!

That was one big reason why I stopped doing magic for a while. I was trying to dumb-down adult tricks to do kid's birthday parties. It was indeed trying!! Wrong act, wrong crowd. I'm totally rethinking my magic routines now, as well as really identifying who I need to be performing for - and who not!

Even so, I'm sure there will be times when the best of plans are gone awry, and the venue will not match the performer or the performance I brought with me. I'm developing an act that plays for the whole family, and some routines will fall flat if the adults aren't there, or if the kids are sullen and uncooperative, or 2-3 years younger than expected.

How important is it to you to prevent this? What steps do you take to qualify the venue to match your performance? What do you do when it doesn't match?

Dr. Delusion
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Eugene, Oregon.
728 Posts

Profile of Dr. Delusion
Hi Ed.
I know what you mean about not matching up to the type of event. For the past 3 years we have been hired by a local Hispanic group for a very large outdoor event they have in September. I have a comedy stage show in which I do a lot of talking through out the show. I'm willing to bet that at least 90 % of the crowd speaks and only understands Spanish. My assistant, nor I, speak any Spanish at all. The hour we do is pretty grueling, they politely applaud after the tricks, but that's about it. It can be a challenge having a child, or an adult help out with a trick. We try our best to limit the number of times we need someone to help us on stage. We've spoken with the folks that hire us that maybe they would be better off having someone else perform, but they always say " No, No, everyone loves the show and they want us back next year ". We really don't get that feeling from the crowd, but they pay us and treat us very well and advertise the heck out of our show each year, so we keep going back.
Brad Burt
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Inner circle
2675 Posts

Profile of Brad Burt
This is a fascinating subject. I HEAVILY endorse the concept of observing carefully how a show goes and making notes, etc. In the case right above you have a kind of odd situation in which the performer attempting to be proactive in offering the best possible show and not feeling that he is giving it is at odds with the folks that keep on hiring him back!

Part of the problem is that a crowd that may not speak your language may 'seem' to not be responding in a manner that you are used to, yet they 'are' enjoying the show more than you are aware of. In this case a certain amount of credence must be afforded the agent booking the show once you have done the first one, etc.

It also points out something that a lot of magical entertainers wanting to make a REALLY good living locally should afford themselves: Language lessons. In the Southern US ... Spanish! I was told over and over down here in San Diego that if I would just learn Spanish I could make a small fortune working for Latino audiences and in fact I know that to be true. I know it's true because I finally got some Spanish speaking friends to learn magic and work that sector of the market. That's a side issue to what's being talked about, but there are HUGE markets for magic entertainment ethnically! Most are just not aware that it's there.

As far as material not matching a particular audience....much of that can be taken care of by the careful use of a detailed questionaire. Logic and common sense will allow you over time to develop a good working list of questions to run through with prospective clients. Virtually ALL folks booking a show will be more than willing to go through the process with you. THEY WANT A GOOD...EVEN A GREAT SHOW!!! Anything that looks professional and as working to that end will find favor with people.

Many times you the performer acting as your own agent will may feel shy about asking folks to put too much work into the process of booking you. DON'T. Get all the information you can.

Where will the show be?
Why will the show be?
How many folks will be there?
Will there be a special guest?
Will there be OTHER special folks there that you should know about?
How many children?

That's a tiny sample. Experience will bring to mind many more. Don't be shy about amending the list as time goes on. That's why they invented the word processor.

I also believe that a show can be developed that will have almost universal appeal. But, it takes testing, thought, work. Obviously if you have decided to only work for very young (4-7) children that will demand a very particular type and style of show. But, if you work for adults and children, mixed and adults alone you can certainly put together a show that will appeal to any type of that mix excepting perhaps an entire audience that hates magic and magicians as a matter of whatever it's a matter of. ;-)

Brad Burt
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Profile of Ronald72
It is a fact that children and adults haves a different imagination. Here in Holland often adults say, well if my children have a good time so do i! But that is not what I am trying to achieve. I have differten shows for different age, young children 4/7 and older children 8/12. Then a have a Familyshow and also have a comedy show. But in all my shows my goal is to reach everyone. So if I have a young children birthday party I always have audienceparticipation with a dad, grandpa or mom. In my Familyshow it will be a balanced mix and. I perform for why I am hired, say like a birthdaychild but always connect with the adult. And it is surprising how well young children can take magic for adults.

Jeff McBride has some interesting things about this subject to say when he was visiting the Café. He had the same problem but start to do his magic what he want to do. He´d never speaks of children entertainment but speaks over Family entertainment. He said that the audience always exist of family.
The Burnaby Kid
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Inner circle
St. John's, Canada
3144 Posts

Profile of The Burnaby Kid
On 2009-06-16 11:21, Ed_Millis wrote:
That was one big reason why I stopped doing magic for a while. I was trying to dumb-down adult tricks to do kid's birthday parties. It was indeed trying!! Wrong act, wrong crowd. I'm totally rethinking my magic routines now, as well as really identifying who I need to be performing for - and who not!

I actually used to do magic shows for kids that involved traditionally adult plots... and most of them were card tricks to boot. One thing to keep in mind is that you have to make the connection first, and if you can do that, the magic can follow pretty easily afterwards.

What do they value? What do they find impressive? What do they think is impossible?

You chose a card? Watch this, I'll make the card GREEN!

You chose a card? Watch this, if I cast a mystic hex upon the deck, a symbol will appear, pointing me right to your card.

These are both potential variations on the Chicago Opener plot. The trick itself doesn't have to change all that much -- you just have to figure out what it is that your target audience will find interesting and cater to that. "Dumbing down" doesn't have to enter into it. In fact, I've personally found greatest success dealing with kids by not dumbing down a single thing.
JACK, the Jolly Almanac of Card Knavery, a free card magic resource for beginners.
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Inner circle
old things in new ways - new things in old ways
9125 Posts

Profile of funsway
In the 80's I had the opportunity to be a 'routining consulting' for several professional magicians. I would watch their show three times (at least). The first time I would sit with my back to the performance and observe the audience with a stop watch in hand. With no knowledge of what effects or tricks he was performing, I made notes of 'time-stamped' reactions of the spectators. On the second viewing I would add my own emotional and surprise reaction to the notes and label the effects. The third time I would attempt to break down the effects into specific moves and sleights, even if I could not guess what was actually being done.

Then I would meet with the performer and discuss glitches in the performance based on a comparison of spectator response as a lay audience vs. mine as a magician. Each used this information to add or eliminate tricks, or re-order his patter or timing. I never had to suggest any actual effect of my own preference (which were many).

In all three case the performer developed a couple 'back-up' effects or alternate story lines in case the audience just wasn't 'being engaged." Thus, my greatest value was in causing them to be "more engaged" with the needs of the audience rather than "as a technical magician." This 'sense of engagement' can start with booking the show.

In a similar vein, when I was doing strolling 'camp magic' in Medieval settings, I would have three complete 20 minutes shows in separate pouches -- selecting the one best suited to the group. My main pouch was filled with simple gimmicks and gaffs for slights and effect using 'found' objects on their table. I usually performed those with audience involvement. The pouches were for when I was suddenly invited to a birthday party or something with half the croud trailing along. By listening to the milling throng I could gauge what best to present for the next show.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
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Profile of pradell
Here it is. That moment when the audience and the performer meet. The place where the sea hits the sand. So you go there with your prearranged patter and your show order and everything is in its perfect place and the script is already written and... and...nothing happens. Dead silence. Long pauses.
What does the seasoned performer learn from these situations?
To be prepared for anything. To give the audience the show that they want, that they understand, that they desire. In essence, to communicate with the audience and to LISTEN to them, as an essential part of the performance, and to be willing to change the show to fit the audience midstream, yes that's right, midstream, i.e. in the middle of the show.
It's jazz baby! We are jazz mugicians. We need to riff. To jam. To get in the groove.
Put on a CD. Sounds the same every time.
Live performances, even plays and concerts, and magic shows, have flexibility. Dynamics. Interaction between audience and performer.
So get out there, hone your chops, and train yourself to anticipate changes.
Once you are able to do so, the show can finally become fun for you too!
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Harris Deutsch
8696 Posts

Profile of harris
Very important to this nearly normal guy.

It is ok these days to say no to a request that does not match my values, skills and type of show.

Though I have done shows in gyms, I am not ready for a stadium show.
(Though back in the 80's as a mime, I did do a solo spot at the stadium in Reno, Nevada.

Silently but serenely...

Harris "formerly Mime over Matter"

Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
music, magic and marvelous toys
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