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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Day 4, Lessons you can only learn on the PITCH (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Magician Shaun
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I finally actually feel successful after today. I averaged 17.33 per hour, and while that is not amazing pay for a magician, for me it is a success. Now let me explain what I learned today:

1. This is a lesson that I think you can only from experience on the street that could greatly help a newbie. When you perform, the first group that you stop as you build a crowd is likely to tip. However, if you hat the crowd after announcing your finale, even people that showed up during your finale, and even people that didn't see the finale start, will tip when you hat if you engage them during the performance.

2. Keeping people. I managed to keep several people who tried to leave before the finale stay and watch my last trick and the hat. One couple I stopped, did Invisible Deck ( I use it as an impossible prediction not the Invisible style patter), they tried to leave, I got them to stay, saying that I would go ahead and do the finale for them, and that the rest of crowd that just showed up I would start over for them. I hatted the crowd, made money, started over just like I said.

3. Stopping the first group, this may be the hardest part is is dependent on the group, it's really hit or miss. The thing is once you stop this first group, you have to have what you are performing so memorized that you can pay attention to the passersby, make EYE CONTACT with them, and draw them in when they look even mildly interested.

4. Finally, one last thing that is just as important as the rest. Getting the audience to make noise for you and be enthusiastic. I realized that people were looking at me with these deer in headlights looks. I just didn't understand. Finally, I asked: "I am just a horrible entertainer or are you just so Amazed that you don't know what to say?" The responses (every time I asked this) were encouraged. It turns out they were simply so amazed that they didn't know what to say or do. I prompted them, each audience after this point, by saying, "If it is that amazing, don't stand there silent with your mouth hanging open, cheer and applaud." This made a huge difference, in the crowds, hats, and my confidence.

I have cut all fluff from my routines. My nightmare for example are now only as follows: Diff to Same, 2 to 1, cut, restore, spectator cut, restore, I cut, back to three. This gets the finale done, is visual, they don't get it, and you hat em.

So day 4 doubled my total hat from day 3 and I am sure it was because of my grasping the above extremely important bits of street performing. I have some more, but it's late and my wife wants my attention, so tomorrow I add a few more gems from today!

Happy Busking and FAT HATS!!!!

Shaun
Magician Shaun
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I also believe that catering to Children is a very, very, very, important aspect of a street show.
Ekuth
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On 2012-07-05 00:19, Gr8gorilla wrote:
I also believe that catering to Children is a very, very, very, important aspect of a street show.


THIS cannot be repeated enough.

Congratulations! Sounds like you're well on track!
"All you need is in Fitzkee."
Magician Shaun
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I also think that the audience interaction, being personal, and getting them to applaud makes a big difference too. I added the line: "If your amazed or thought that was really cool don't just stand there with your mouth hanging open, applaud!" I got regular applause from each group after that. I believe it is because people are so unfamiliar with live entertainment outside of concerts and school plays, that they require a bit of prodding. This builds energy that makes your crowd bigger and makes your hat bigger due to both the energy and increased crowd size.

Now a question for those more experienced. What do you do about bathroom breaks?
Magician Shaun
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Another thing, I got change for the first time yesterday. It was mostly quarters and mostly came from one group, they were all together. It totaled like 8$ so it seems like they dropped 4-6 quarters each. I haven't worked out how to avoid that with out specific anti-solicitation laws here in Atlanta, I guess it just happens. I don't use a tip bucket or jar as I have previously stated and I don't seed my hat, I wear it until I Hat.

I did have one spectator say, "Where do we put the money?" in a confidential tone to someone next to them, I replied loudly "That is part of my secret, you have to wait for the end of the show to tip me when I pass my hat around, people tend to tip better when they see the whole show!" I was honest, I was direct, I educated them a bit.

A lot of my show has been edited based on reactions from people on the street. For example, my rope routine was much longer when I first started, I would do the Fiber Optics stuff like the ends slide, ends pull off, etc. However, experience showed me that many spectators start to catch on when you do those things, they remember the little rope from the beginning and start to put it together, and the reactions start to wane. I don't do any of that anymore, not the static part, or any of the other ends gags. I use a volunteer for every trick I do even the silk vanish, because I do the Jeff McBride wishing rainbow instead of a standard silk vanish. When I get to the rope finale I ask for an audience volunteer enthusiastic children are always ready, I then tell the audience about the Hindu Fakirs and their rope trick with the boy assistant who climbs it. I keep glancing at the volunteer, and then I tell them how the Fakir takes his Sword, climbs the rope, a commotion is heard in the invisible space above and the boys bloody arms and legs are thrown down into the basket! I then look at the volunteer and say "Are you ready?" I of course get a no or emphatic head shaking and say, that's OK, we aren't going to do that trick anyway, we are going to do a different rope trick. I then do the Professors Nightmare, handing out the ropes to be examined, I do the stretching bit, then the count, then put one away, restore to one, act like I need some scissors, cut the rope with magic, restore, have my volunteer cut the rope, always a good reaction, restore, back to one rope, say when we started this trick we had three ropes, cut into two pulling third out, then break the illusion.

Now during each phase of cutting and restoring, I look at the crowd, I see these deer in headlights looks and I say "What is that look on your face? Am I really that bad?" The responses are I just don't know what to say, that is awesome or some such and I reply, "Well if it's good, don't just stand there with your mouth hanging open, cheer and applaud!" I draw this out, pausing and letting each cut and restoration sink in. With the applause and drawing out of the 4 phase routine, the crowd tends to build a lot during the finale. I realized this quickly and adapted my hat line for this. I found if you build the energy like this a lot of the people that just showed up will tip too when you hat and to increase that likelihood and to help build the next crowd I now say, "Now we have come to my favorite part of the show, it's the part where I hold out my hat and if you had a good time and enjoyed it, you throw some money in, for those of you that just walked up and caught the end, feel free to stay and I will start over from the beginning again for you. Remember, tipping isn't mandatory but it is customary if you were entertained!" Then depending on the mood etc, I might throw out an "Were you not entertained?" Ala Gladiator with Russell Crowe.

All of this to just better clarify some of what I have learned on the street in my first 4 days working. It is very true that the street will teach you faster than anything. There is nothing to keep people except your skills, they have nothing invested prior so if you can't keep their attention, they can and will just walk away. You have to adapt and evaluate every single aspect of everything you do out there. How you interact with crowds, how you interact with children, how long your effects are, do you get the expected reactions?

Another gem I learned on the street. Ask people about themselves. Their name, where they are from, what are they doing here, etc. If you are trying to stop people, make eye contact and say "What's your name?" This works very well for getting people to stop, even better than watch this, or Look. Then say, person's name, watch this! Begin to draw them in. Personal interactions make people Stop, Stay, and Pay. It will increase your crowds and your hats. Engage as many audience members as possible, try to leave no one out!

Ok, long winded as usual, please leave your usual assessments of my personal assessments,

Shaun
solrak29
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Quote:
On 2012-07-05 00:19, Gr8gorilla wrote:
I also believe that catering to Children is a very, very, very, important aspect of a street show.


Agreed, Cellini said, "stop a child and you stop the world..."....
To Find Me On The Pitch, Follow me :On Twitter
Checkout my pseudo blog : The Sidewalk Performers Forum

"I intend to live forever, or die trying" - Groucho Marx
Devious
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Shaun,
It's been so much fun reading your posts. I only wish you had them all lumped in
the same thread versus a new one each time out. This will make following them a bit
easier as opposed to checking multiple ones with varying amounts of advice.

Someday you may wish to revisit these threads and you will have a far easier time
if you can find the discussion in one thread. My opinion only of course.

I would like to add my own thoughts;

Focus on your groups instead of your magic

Our material should be so well rehearsed that it is now merely muscle memory and effortless,
as to allow us to focus soley on the reactions and behaviours of our groups.

If you are planning what you're going to do or say next, you will most certainly miss out on
the nonverbal cues and subtleties your groups are putting out.

Take for example the way a person is standing or which direction their feet are pointing.
If the feet are pointing away from your performance area, they may be getting ready to leave
or have contempt for your show and just indulging their children, spouse etc.

Are the arms crossed or in an open position, are they on the cell phones whilst
the spouse is thoroughly engaged etc....many things to watch for.

Make Eye Contact

Eye contact communicates your interest in them and also helps to maintain the flow of a conversation.
It also is effective in gauging their response to said performance and humour.

Pay Attention To Your Own NonVerbal Cues

The most common failure that I've seen, is a lack of genuine enthusiasm by the performer,
for the material and the groups who stop to enjoy a few minutes with the magician.
Oft times when I experience the "deer in the headlights" issue, I will yell out
with great enthusiasm to shake them up and ecourage loud boisterious behaviour by
example.

Things like facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, gestures, a light touch on the shoulder
of the participants, both the timing and pace of the line delivery.

I'm certain other fine folks will come along behind me to offer their own ideas, but I just
wanted to share some you may or may not have thought of.

Best of luck to you out there guy!
~Dev/
Devious Deceptions
"Gadol Elohai!"
L'Chaim!
Magician Shaun
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I sent an email to a staff member requesting that my threads be combined and maybe even stickied in the sidewalk shuffle for new performers to read. If they do it, then I will post all new diary days in the combined thread making the whole thing easily searchable and easy to follow. I am not sure if asking for the thread to be stickied is pretentious or not, but I figured it might be a good idea.

I have a few questions for the regular guys:

1. what types of festivals are not good for making money. I want to look into performing at some local festivals and want to know the types I should avoid.

2. Atlanta doesn't have loads of late night attractions like some other cites, is setting up on the sidewalk in bar hopping area good or bad?

3. As people begin to ask me for a business card and whether or not I do private shows, I am thinking about how different the structure of a private kids birthday party or walk around show for weddings might be. Those of you that take gigs like that, how different are the effects that you do? Do you use the same effects and just structure them different? Do you just take your sidewalk show into the party?

4. Anyone have any suggestions for a stage/performing name for me? My name is Shaun Christopher. Ideas are appreciated.
Magician Shaun
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I combined all of my threads into one single thread called Diary of a Beginning Street Magician - Busking Lessons learned on the pitch! Please make all future comments there, I will also post all of my experiences there.

Thank you everyone for your responses and help so far. I think I am learning well with your help and the help of the street!
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Well, I'll take a crack at the questions...

1. I would probably say any festival has the potential to be good, it would really depend on the type of festival and the type of crowd. I've busked at everything from street art fairs to biker rallies, so it's really a wide open field. Just structure your set accordingly- are there likely to be kids there? If not, pull out some of your more adult/edgy routines. With enough flexibility, you could likely work about any festival. I would say the sole exception to this is likely to be events like Renaissance festivals- the entertainment there is booked WELL in advance and competition among rennies is FIERCE. Management doesn't take kindly to buskers crashing the festival... you're likely to find yourself between two burly men in kilts heading for the front gates... and that's the best case scenario. Contact the management ahead of time, and good luck. I've been trying to crack the local renn fest for about a year now with no success... but I'm a very stubborn and determined person... mwhwhahahhaha!

2. You just described Mill Ave in Tempe where I busk regularly. It's basically one 5 block long stretch of bars and restaurants; lots of musician buskers, but I'm the only magos as of current. Check the local ordinances and talk to the police- there may be permits required or not. Expect some flack from the local buskers used to the pitch and from the police at first- once you get an established presence on the pitch they'll lay off. It helps to cue them (the police) in to potential problems; acting as their "eyes and ears" is a good way to endear yourself to them.

3. Definately carry business cards and hand them out like candy. I look on them as a necessary business expense; sure, the probablility is that 80% of them will end up ashcanned, but if even one turns into a gig... it pays for itself. Never overlook the opportunity to get more practice for pay!

As far as the structure, there are differences. Busking offers ALOT of freedom- you can do what you want, when you want; you don't have to perform if your audience starts to tick you off... gigs don't offer that luxury- there's much more to coordinate and you're definately on the spot- pass/fail. If you want to do kid's shows, I HIGHLY recommend Silly Billy's DVD "Seriously Silly". While I don't personally care for his style (you should develop your own, obviously), he goes into great depth about the psychology behind how to structure and successfully perform for children and into the psychology behind HOW a child thinks. The little urchins don't think the same way we do and if you're not aware of that, on top of your game and a step ahead of them at all times, they WILL catch you out and they're merciless about it.

Now you may be thinking "yeah, but I perform for kids on the pitch, what's the big deal?"... trust me, there's a HUGE difference between the way they behave out in public and how they perform at home/pizza/event place for a party. Kids are a tough crowd and can be exhausting to perform for. Add in the parents who think that they've hired you to be a babysitter for the duration of the show... well, they're not all like that, but you get the picture.

Some effects will transfer well to kid shows; generally short, bright, visual tricks. Think silks, sponge balls/bunnies... things for short attention spans. Again, see Silly Billy's works for ideas. Also check the "Little Darlings" section of the forums here, lots of good advice to be found there.

Performing solely for adults can be just as challenging. There's SO many variables it would be fruitless to cover them all here. Venue, crowd, sobriety, religious background, political background, amount of performance space... there's a lot to consider. More of your standard busking set will play here than with kids, but not all. Cards come back in, sponge bunnies go out (although they ALWAYS slay the women... so don't rule out the humble rabbits). Sometimes, things will slay, other times they'll bomb.

Case in point: I just did an adults birthday gig and did Professor's Nightmare- this has always played well for me in the past, but with this crowd... BOMBED. Of course, I was fighting against a whole slew of other factors which I won't bore you with, but the gist of it is that you never know what's going to work. Flexibility is the word of the day here.

One thing I will suggest is to resist the urge to over-prepare/complicate. Stick to what you do best and know best; the day or two before a gig is NOT the time to work that new effect into your set. Basic, I know- but you really have to fight that temptation... at least I know I do. Pack small, play big.

4. Find something that 'feels' right for you and run with it! Just don't choose 'Chance'... Smile My stage name is Christophe', a derivation of my first name Christopher. I'm sure there's other magi out there with the same moniker, but I'm far from the point where I'm worried about trademarks, ect. Heck, I could as easily go with my forum name or Professor Jingleheimerschmidt for that matter.

Really, your name should come from your character- who are you when you perform? Are you 'you'? A mystic Hindu from Bangladesh? An Ancient Egyptian priest? A 20's confidence man? A classic Victorian magician? A steampunk inventor?

As you can see, the possibilities are endless, and that's part of the fun. After all:

"A magician is simply an actor playing the part of a magician."
"All you need is in Fitzkee."
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Devious, Ekuth, thank you for sharing your professional thoughts to this thread. It helps everyone!
Magician Shaun
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I am that guy that you see in the picture. I honestly don't know who I am as a magician. I am the guy I have always been when performing, the magician I became when working at Magic Masters years ago. I feel that character when I start on the pitch each day. I was always good at selling Magic Masters over priced magic tricks, that experience has served me pretty well performing on the street. I have said before the big difference is translating pitching magic tricks to hatting the crowd. But the basics of it are still the same.

I plan to get some video of me performing soon, maybe this weekend. I will post said video without fear for your critique. I am sure I will benefit from your observations and opinions. I just have trouble getting my wife to stand out on the sidewalk all day with me in the hot Georgia sun. I will probably have to get a spectator to do it or some other person on the sidewalk.

And one more time, please post responses to anything you read here in the Diary of a Beginning Street Magician thread..that way we can kill off these fractured posts and put it all together.
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