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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » To sit or stand - which is professional? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Red Shadow
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Hi,

I've recently been debating with some other magicians on whether it is professional as a paid performer in a parlour / cabaret situation, to sit down.

I know several children's entertainers who take a chair with them and sit down during the show. I personally will never sit down during a show. As a performer, I truly believe that you should be standing front and centre, with command of your stage. As soon as you sit down you become less important and just another human person.

It also helps to keep the audiences attention if you are moving around the stage, because their eyes are forced to follow you and pay attention. If you are stationary, it can bore the visual aspect of the stage and some people can find it hard to keep their eyes open. Either that, or they get bored and start running around the room instead.

We are suppose to be magicians who have an aura of magnificence about them, and the children 'look up' to us, not just because of our age and position and occupation, but because we physically are taller. When you sit down, it ruins the illusion of control over the children, which also extends into crowd control issues as the children become more open to not paying attention, as you are no-longer as important.

I also compare our industry to other professions, such as stand-up comedians. You never, ever see a stand-up sit down. Some of them take a stool on stage but only to put a glass of water on.
Speakers, lecturers, and almost every other professions where you have to speak to an audience has the artist standing for the entire duration. Why should it be different for magicians?

Maybe I'm reading too much into it. I know some entertainers claim them have a great show, even though they sit down.

I wonder what the general consensus is on this subject, and how many of you sit down during the show.

Putting my foot in it again,

Steve
magicgeorge
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"You never, ever see a stand-up sit down."

Oxymoron aside, I can't believe you've never heard of Dave Allen!

I would say standing is the norm. It's generally more practical. There are a few reasons you may want to sit. Some people may have health reasons.

I like to hunker down so I am on the same level as the children when they're up for volunteering. Me knees have started making strange cracky noises so I've begun to wonder if a small stool might be handy.
mr shiney
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Quote:
On 2010-05-07 05:27, magicgeorge wrote:
"You never, ever see a stand-up sit down."

Oxymoron aside, I can't believe you've never heard of Dave Allen!

I would say standing is the norm. It's generally more practical. There are a few reasons you may want to sit. Some people may have health reasons.

I like to hunker down so I am on the same level as the children when they're up for volunteering. Me knees have started making strange cracky noises so I've begun to wonder if a small stool might be handy.


yes my knees are starting to crack as well I was going to start putting a cushion down for my knees?
as I like to knee when you get a little one up to help
Best Job in the world

Mr Shiney
MagicB1S
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I have to agree with the above posts... You should never sit down as stated above, However from time to time I also Squat down to get to the childrens level
"There are Tricks To All Trades.... My Trade is all Tricks"

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Spellbinder
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Story readers at libraries almost always sit down while reading, and their sitting does not make them "less important and just another human person." It is a style, nothing more. If it doesn't suit you, then don't do it, but don't tell others not to in order to justify your own position. To apply the term "professional" to a performance style is "unprofessional", in my opinion.

I have seen Qua-Fiki in performance go from being wildly active in his "Super Hero" opening, to sitting down behind his Table Mate tilted table to perform some quieter card tricks, then bouncing back up again to chase after his elusive invisible dog and so the show goes from active to calm with never a doubt as to whom is in charge in either situation. He is not a "professional" yet ... more like a PIT (Professional In Training), but he is defining himself as an entertainer and simply learning what works for him and what doesn't. I advise others to stop focusing on whether or not you are perceived by other magicians as being "professional" (magicians are the only ones who care about that term, anyway) and stand or sit to perform as the situation requires.
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wbzwolinski
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Generally I agree with Steve that as a performer you should be on your feet and in command of your stage during your performance. There are times though that I feel that sitting is appropriat.

I stand for most of my show. I do sit during different portions when I want to be at the childrens level ie: my puppet routine which uses several children participants, as well as some other effects in which, again, I use children as participants. I move in closer to them and put myself at there level which I feel draws them in closer to the performance and makes them part of the show.

During small performances I will also sit with the very small group of kids which I feel draws them in closer to the magic and I feel makes them feel as though they are more a part of the show.

Wolly
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Tony James
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There seems to be some confusion here. If you are working a large audience there is a tendency to remain standing. Of course, it depends on what 'large' means to the individual. Someone used to domestic parties of a couple of dozen or so maximum may consider 50 as large. To me, large is when you hit a couple of hundred. The circumstances can be rather different.

You must be flexible in this business and understand that the choreography of your performance is more important than your magical skills. Even more important is your stagecraft - where you position yourself, how you sit, how you stand, how you turn and how you move.

You move for a reason, not for something to do. Otherwise it is more effective to stand still. Traipsing up and down is not effective. And when I say stand still, I mean stand still. The times I see acts incapable of standing perfectly still. They don't even stand properly, in a balanced stance.

They shift their weight from leg to leg and they fidget, their body swaying even if their feet are glued to the floor. Learn how to stand still - professionally. When you make a hand or arm movement, do it for a considered reason.

As for sitting, of course you sit during the course of a normal show which in the UK is often a solid hour. It introduces variety which is essential in any presentation especially during the course of an hour. if you don't sit down in a house party most of us would tower over the audience. or else the distance between you and your audience would be too great. Let them sit close, on the floor which most children find more comfortable. Then you can sit down and stand when you have a reason to do so.

Do you have a quiet period in your show? A change of pace? Once you reach half way through you will need some counterbalance to the steady pace of the first half. A period of quieter enjoyment before you enter the more exciting finale which needs to build up. So what do you use? Do you tell a story?

Storytelling is a related art. If you understand stagecraft and construction, a story is an ideal contrast. There are plenty of established story type effects out there with props to illustrate the progress. Be imaginative. You can create and add things to illustrate the story. Start by sitting down and telling the story. Try using a large folder type book if appropriate. Children love people reading to them. It's just a dressing - of course you could stand there, working the props but this style makes a break, calms things down prior to the finale.

Stand and move at key points, handling the props and then sitting again as the story advances. You act it out and engage the audience to join in, verbally and with actions and movements. You will find the very process of sitting down will calm an excited audience before you lead them through to the next point of excitement.

As for young children generally, from nursery to five years, sitting on a low chair helps you maintain eye contact, both with the audience and helpers in particular. This is important when you are handling props with a small child. Getting props into a child's hands is practical - it occupies them - and it looks effective to the audience, adults and children alike.

If you are stood, you must stand well back from a small child in order to keep that essential eye contact. If you don't, from out front the child is having to look high up in the air and you appear to be dominating a tiny child. Not good. So sit down and keep closer.

With older children the same rules apply though in practise they are taller, you don't have to stand quite so far back and dropping down on one knee is easy enough, at least for young fellows of MY AGE!!!!!
Tony James

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Al Angello
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I sit down before my show, not during my show. I am being paid to entertain the little children, which requites me to make an effort that is equal to my fee.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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harris
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I have done both.

Of course as Tony wisely stated in a big auditorium I have used the standing position. These days close up video screens make many more possibilities.

In libraries I sometimes sit in the story tellers chairs..which have ranged from rockers to over stuffed wonderfully colored chairs.

Harris
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kimmo
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There are no rules. Just whatever works for you.
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Brian Lehr
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Quote:
On 2010-05-07 10:34, kimmo wrote:
There are no rules. Just whatever works for you.


Nah, that's too practical. There has to be a rule! Smile
Scott O.
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Quote:
On 2010-05-07 04:53, ku7uk3 wrote:
As soon as you sit down you become less important and just another human person.


I think, Steve, that you touched upon the reason in your post. When a magician sits down, it does make him more human. And it should be done purposefully--to draw the audience into your character. There may be physical reasons for needing to sit during a performance. I believe an audience can understand that, but as a general rule standing is the best option for some of the reasons you mentioned. (But rules were made to be broken--purposefully)
Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest, if you do not give up. Galatians 6:9
harris
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And of course there is the classic story about _________ who never sat down after he put his pants on.(to avoid wrinkling them)
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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BIGmagiclV
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Quote:
On 2010-05-07 05:27, magicgeorge wrote:
"You never, ever see a stand-up sit down."

Oxymoron aside, I can't believe you've never heard of Dave Allen!


Or Paula Poundstone or Bill Cosby for that matter!

There are times when it is better to sit. When I am in front of a very young audience and don't want to scare them or am telling a story it seems to help to be a little more eye level.
LMLipman
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I notice in Jimbo's DVD that he does most of the performance sitting down. I don't know if that's for physical reasons or working with the kids. I don't sit, but I do occasionally kneel when I'm dealing with very small children.

While I'm not crazy about the idea, it think it does put the magician more on the same level as the kids, so the magician is not towering above the child.
Larry Lipman
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TheAmbitiousCard
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I could see sitting down for a particular trick, for effect. For something elegant, for instance.

Misdirection is not as easily accomplished sitting down. Standing is much more dynamic and has lots of other benefits.

Besides, a chair won't fit in my briefcase.
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Spellbinder
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Quote:
On 2010-05-07 14:56, Frank Starsini wrote:
Besides, a chair won't fit in my briefcase.


Qua-Fiki's lightweight folding stool might just fit: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/41......ool.html

It's also great for the Vampire Levitation (Wizards' Journal #17).

This company also has some folding three-legged canvas stools that might also fit.
Professor Spellbinder

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rossmacrae
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The final few years till I retired, I sat because I really can't stand much. And I found that it had advantages: I no longer intimidated kids as badly as I used to, because I was on their level (I'm a BIG LOUD GOOFY INTENSE character and that can be scary).

If you don't think that's professional ... well, I had some very happy clients and I had no trouble at all managing the audience (sit them on the floor whether you sit or stand, I say).
magic.ian
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I believe that a magic show should have a theatrical element. One way to theatrically connect with my audience, and thus become more human, is to sit on a stool for a more intimant "personality piece". This is story telling magic that gives the audience a chance to learn a little more about me. It connects me with the audience. Lance Burton does it when he talks about growing up (he sits on the edge of the stage). I combine a little story telling with a little silk magic (colour changing, vanishing etc). I do it fairly early in the show and I have found that following the piece, the kids have stronger reactions to the rest of the show. I also use it to calm the kids down after a particulaly noisy piece -like Silly Billy's colouring book. So - I would say that sitting is a usful theatrical tool.
Al Angello
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Do you guys get tips after doing a sit down kids party? More importantly do the kids stay awake during this low key show?

I guess I'm just an old fashion guy that jumps around on stage for the whole 45 minute show.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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