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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » What happened, was this... » » Performing for strangers for the first time... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of rcad
Although there is really nothing sensational in what I'm about to share, I just had to do it with fellow magicians.

In the last few months, I have returned to magic as a hobby after several years of absence. In fact, I used to do magic as a child and young teen but then, I moved on. Twenty five years later, I am much more involved and "serious" about it than I was at the time. I am teaching myself a real course in magic, learning the basics sleights and effects, practicing a lot, reading essays on magic, etc...

The first times I performed magic was of course, in front of my wife and friends. Even then, I felt very nervous at first. I am used to being a "comedian" at dinner reunions and I love to entertain but doing magic puts an additional pressure on you because there is no room for mistakes. In any case, with time, I became quite relaxed doing tricks for a couple of people at a time and although there is still always a little anxiety, it's just enough to be pleasurable and keep me on my toes.

Last weekend, I performed in front of twenty people, some that I had never met before, most of them barely known to me. I was looking forward to this. Nothing elaborate, just a few magic tricks to entertain the crowd. I was sitting at the kitchen table when all of the sudden, I realized that twenty pairs of eyes were starring at me, just waiting to see me fail (that's only how I felt of course, they were simply expecting to be amazed).

Stage fright. So the shaking began. I tried to joke about it since it was so obvious and they were all real nice. That is when I realized for the first time how anxiety should be accounted for when I practice. My technique was flawless but I had forgotten my patter! Mind you, I realized it after a couple of tricks where I did everything correctly but talk... Even with the "oooohs" and "aaaahs" and applause, I still couldn't calm down. Then my wife who I think was nervous too, says "Hey! You forgot to tell her such and such a thing before doing the trick!" I know she wanted to help but she was only making things worse. She now knows that when I perform, she shouldn't say anything.

Anyways, at one point, there was a guy who had been waiting all night for me to perform some magic with him. The guy is very nice and funny so I ask him to cut the deck of cards... After the cut, I'm just starring at the cards... I have NO IDEA as to what I'm suppose to do next! At this moment I realize that not only I don't remember what my next move is, I have no idea as to what trick I am trying to perform!

I smile, excuse myself to go outside on the balcony which was just behind me, telling them that I am so excited, I need a drag to clear up my mind before I continue. They all seem to understand. While I'm alone, smoking, I try to calm down and within a few seconds, my head clears up, I know what to do next and for this last trick, I think at last I did a very good "performance". I used this guy who is a natural comedian, had the audience laugh a bit myself, delivered my patter with more energy than I ever did and the conclusion overwhelmed everybody!

I have learned a few things that night and one of them is to practice not only the tricks individually but as a sequence of events. Not to simply "think" of the patter when I practice but to actually say it out loud. And be aware that even in front of a small group, stage fright can get in the way.

The happy conclusion of all this is that even if everyone saw I was very nervous, they were all amazed and still talking about it the next day. One woman was so impressed she apparently couldn't accept I used a trick... To her, I really did some "magic". I even got invited to a party where I am sure, I will be asked to do some more magic.

And to top it all off, my wife told me the sweetest thing the next day... She simply told me how proud she was of me. All in all, I think I must have been better than I thought I was...

Thanks for reading, I needed to share!

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious." Albert Einstein
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Profile of Wolfgang
Great story. We've all been there, and it sounds like you handled it better than most would.

You're absolutely right. Rehearsing patter (out loud) is as important as rehearsing mechanics.
"Sure, I do Scotch and Soda in every show. What? You mean there's a trick by that name?"
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Profile of jmm1303
that's Cool and It sounds like you handled it very well
Reis O'Brien
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Profile of Reis O'Brien
I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone in the nervousness department. I'm relatively new to performing myself, and still get a bit shakey. The funny thing is, I'm shakier with friends and family because I know that I have to see them again tomorrow. Total strangers seem easier to me.

Hopefully, one day, when we're seasoned pro's, we'll look back on our twitchy beginings and laugh.

Any... point is... I feel your pain, amigo!

Homo vult decipi; decipiatur
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Profile of rcad
Thanks guys! I appreciate your support and it does make me feel better to know that I am not the only one to be shaking while performing, haha!

I think it's normal to have stage fright but I didn't expect mine to be so overwhelming. I hadn't accounted for the fact that when performing magic, unlike stand-up comedy or playing a role in a in play, aspects of performance I am more used to, you risk "getting caught"! In itself, it "should" make any magician at least a little bit nervous. If it doesn't, I guess he could become careless and goof... In any case, the good news is, it hasn't scared me off to the point of not wanting to go back "on stage" (even if it is just a friend's kitchen...)

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious." Albert Einstein
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