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CurtWaltermire
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Curtis The Mentalist
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It's nice to see a fairly interesting thread like this that's a few years old get revived.

How I develop my presentations are different if it is something new that has yet to be performed, or something I'm currently performing and I'm wanting to improve upon. But the overall process is basically the same.

Regardless of which it is, I always start with my performing character, which is a somewhat exaggerated version of me; blown up into a cartoonish-like image that's a bit bigger than life. Even at some times ridiculous. But that is just my performing character. I like to be funny, high energy, and a bit melodramatic. I don't take myself very seriously, and I don't want anyone else to either. I want my audiences to have fun.

Whether it's my bank-nite/chair-test routine, my personality test routine, my blindfold act, etc., I want it to create an effect that makes people want to either say or get the feeling that they "want to go see THAT GUY." I want any presentation I give to make people feel that way. Mind-blowing, of course, but mostly fun and even hilarious as well.

I truly believe that people, while they are interested in the effects, are even moreso interested in me as a character; as someone they can talk about, and not just what I'm doing.

I performed a show for a private event earlier this evening for a group of people who came to the event from all across the U.S. and Canada. As it turned out, two of them had seen me before and were thrilled to find out I was entertaining them this evening. One of them was local and said "I've seen your show at the comedy club!" and also went on to tell me how that when people she knows talk about it, they say "Ooooo, yeah! You've gotta go see THAT GUY." It's always reassuring when people tell me things like that because that is part of what I'm striving for.

When developing any presentation, I work my way through every single moment of process--from the opening lines or segues, to the things I say and do when selecting a spectator (I especially like to make this fun, interesting, and sometimes even weird), how I'm going to interact with them in the process, etc; sometimes that involves walking around the room and acting it out, other times I'm sitting down sipping a cup of coffee or enjoying a cigar, or mowing my lawn. I endeavor to write all the time; and by that I don't always mean actually sitting down with a pencil or at my laptop (which is still a good thing to do of course), but even just making strong mental notes. I endeavor to spend some good alone time thinking it through and when I feel I have a great structure, I work through all of the physical part of it in actual time, using the props, etc.

If it's something brand-new, and I'm confident that I can do it for a paying crowd, I then start performing it. And the further development process begins. I just start performing it and then studying it and go back to the drawing board after each time it's performed. Why? Because no matter how well it is put together up until then, I never know exactly how it's going to play. I just jump in with it and I perfect it as I perform it.

The best comedians do this with their jokes. Prep them as best as they can and then just start doing them. For me, actually performing the presentation before live audiences is where the real development begins.
David Thiel
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This is a great thread. It was also fun to read what I'd written here six years ago...because that's how I still do it.

Step One: REALLY think about the prop/effect/routine. Is it a good match for me? Does it have the potential to make it into my stage show by being better/stronger/more tightly aligned to the journey I want to take my audiences on?

Step Two: If it fits me, I'll buy it.

Step Three: When it comes, I won't read the 'patter' because that's how I wind up doing the effect the same way everyone else does. I examine it from every angle first to see how easily I can uncover the 'gimmick' and second to think what else it could possibly be or accomplish.

Step Four: I sit down with my notebook and write everything I can think of about the prop. Words, ideas and rough concepts. The page is a mess when I am done because I don't judge a single concept as I write. They flow through my brain and into the page. The wilder the better.

Step Five: Eliminate 98% of the crap I've just written because it's stupid. Start to get excited about the remaining two percent...and start developing a routine.

Step Six: I present my rough idea to no one. I sit in my den and work with the prop as though I were presenting it on-stage.

Step Seven: I re-work the idea because as I rehearse with the prop, I get to know it. I understand it's idiosyncrasies and -- hopefully -- I've begun to see where it might fail.

Step Seven and a Half: Rework the idea and represent the effect to no one. THIS time I work through it trying to anticipate every possible way a spectator could screw me up.

Step Eight: Finalize the starting script and write it down. I put all these scripts into binders so that, if I retire the prop for a while because I'm not happy with it (which happens in most cases) I can come back to it later and not have to start all over.

Step Nine: IF the prop/idea/effect still excites and interests me, I'll take it out and use it for close up. I sandwich it between two strong effects so that if/when it doesn't perform as well as I thought it would, the spectators don't remember it. After each evening of performing, I write in my notebook about things I need to rethink, ways the spectators surprised me, how I could explain what's happening more clearly, funny things that happened or occurred to me etc. Sometimes this takes years. Yeah...seriously.

Step Nine and a Half: Rewrite my script.

Step Ten: I continue performing it close up until I know that sucker intimately. IF I am still excited about it, I'll incorporate it into parlor presentations. IF I am still happy with it after a number of performances I go to...

Step Eleven: I put it into a small stage show -- again sandwiched in between two very strong effects.

The issue is that I genuinely love every single effect in my show. I know how effective they are...and I've worked hard to develop each one so it does exactly what I need it to do and is placed in the exact right place. IF a new 'something' is introduced, that means I have to remove something I'm already doing. So this is pretty rare. But the process of development keeps me sharp.

My mentor used to talk about performers who "inflict **** on their audiences before they understand why they are performing it." He was right...which is why I always do an internal eye roll when I read about guys who get a prop and 'put it into their show that night.' Maybe it works for them...who knows? It will never work for me, though.

Hope this is helpful.

David
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.


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Ben Blau
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I consult with my REAL interests that I think might be worth sharing with others. Other times, I am externally inspired. Looking around at life and existence, it provides so much to draw from. I can be inspired from anything — a word, an idea, a quotation, something scientific, literature, pop culture, history, or even any given emotion. And that’s understating it.
pacozaa
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Quote:
On May 30, 2018, David Thiel wrote:
This is a great thread. It was also fun to read what I'd written here six years ago...because that's how I still do it.

Step One: REALLY think about the prop/effect/routine. Is it a good match for me? Does it have the potential to make it into my stage show by being better/stronger/more tightly aligned to the journey I want to take my audiences on?

Step Two: If it fits me, I'll buy it.

Step Three: When it comes, I won't read the 'patter' because that's how I wind up doing the effect the same way everyone else does. I examine it from every angle first to see how easily I can uncover the 'gimmick' and second to think what else it could possibly be or accomplish.

Step Four: I sit down with my notebook and write everything I can think of about the prop. Words, ideas and rough concepts. The page is a mess when I am done because I don't judge a single concept as I write. They flow through my brain and into the page. The wilder the better.

Step Five: Eliminate 98% of the crap I've just written because it's stupid. Start to get excited about the remaining two percent...and start developing a routine.

Step Six: I present my rough idea to no one. I sit in my den and work with the prop as though I were presenting it on-stage.

Step Seven: I re-work the idea because as I rehearse with the prop, I get to know it. I understand it's idiosyncrasies and -- hopefully -- I've begun to see where it might fail.

Step Seven and a Half: Rework the idea and represent the effect to no one. THIS time I work through it trying to anticipate every possible way a spectator could screw me up.

Step Eight: Finalize the starting script and write it down. I put all these scripts into binders so that, if I retire the prop for a while because I'm not happy with it (which happens in most cases) I can come back to it later and not have to start all over.

Step Nine: IF the prop/idea/effect still excites and interests me, I'll take it out and use it for close up. I sandwich it between two strong effects so that if/when it doesn't perform as well as I thought it would, the spectators don't remember it. After each evening of performing, I write in my notebook about things I need to rethink, ways the spectators surprised me, how I could explain what's happening more clearly, funny things that happened or occurred to me etc. Sometimes this takes years. Yeah...seriously.

Step Nine and a Half: Rewrite my script.

Step Ten: I continue performing it close up until I know that sucker intimately. IF I am still excited about it, I'll incorporate it into parlor presentations. IF I am still happy with it after a number of performances I go to...

Step Eleven: I put it into a small stage show -- again sandwiched in between two very strong effects.

The issue is that I genuinely love every single effect in my show. I know how effective they are...and I've worked hard to develop each one so it does exactly what I need it to do and is placed in the exact right place. IF a new 'something' is introduced, that means I have to remove something I'm already doing. So this is pretty rare. But the process of development keeps me sharp.

My mentor used to talk about performers who "inflict **** on their audiences before they understand why they are performing it." He was right...which is why I always do an internal eye roll when I read about guys who get a prop and 'put it into their show that night.' Maybe it works for them...who knows? It will never work for me, though.

Hope this is helpful.

David


Thank you. I admire your thought. This is golden.
Decomposed
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What a great thread. I like to keep my scripts limited to 3-5 bullet points and apply props that fit the story.
Ben Bob
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I will imagine that I am performing the routine with some invisible spectators .And I will assume all of the details as particular as possible.It really works.
weirdwizardx
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I think about the things that I want the participants to experience then I build upon that
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