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Burt Yaroch
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Since I’ve been having a lot of discussions about new magicians prematurely displaying thier skills to the public, I was wondering if you more seasoned guys could share with us your thoughts on the following:

How do you recommend newbies practice their performing skills, specifically interaction with a live audience (other than your spouse who is ready to kill you)?

When is the right time to go public and what venues do you recommend starting in?

"Let the healing begin." - Unknown Treehugger

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Just outside parts unknown.
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Profile of Magicman0323
I agree with Eugene Burger when he said when you think you're comfortable enough to show your effect in public, practice it for another 30 days. If you're able to do your effect effortlessly then your ready to show it to someone other than your spouse or mother. When I’m going through something new I’ll work my way through the family, until I go to close friends, then I take it to the streets. This is just how I do it.
You'll wonder when I'm coming, you'll wonder even more when I'm gone. - Max Malini
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Profile of Bengi
When I started doing magic 30 years ago, I would practice in front of a full-length mirror for 2-3 hours a day. When I could do an effect in front of the mirror without ME seeing what was going down, I knew I was ready to try a small audience.

If you can fool yourself, than you probably have the effect down well enough.

Even now, I still stand in front of that same mirror for at least two hours, twice a week.

And even when you think you have an effect down, don't stop practicing. You can always get better.

Good luck!!

Tom Cutts
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One needs a core group who will tell you the true story. Magic clubs should be a good source but sadly most are not.

If you just do the routine you get polite applause and comments. If you ask for criticism or ideas you get way too many perspectives from people who probably don't perform or understand you.

Find a core group of performers you can bounce things off.

Now, if you are talking about just running routines for real people in mass, may I suggest heading out to a children's hospital. Kids in trouble can be both genuinely appreciative and brutally honest, bless their little hearts Smile

I got my first stage experience through years of Salvation Army Holiday shows.

Next stop a senior's home. Less honest but very appreciative.

Cheers and good luck,
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Profile of Jack
I consider myself to be one of the luckier ones who had the opportunity to work in a magic shop. I did so for about 12 years. I couldn’t begin to count all the different effects I’ve performed to all the different people (sometimes groups of) who’ve occasionally wandered in, magically curious, giving me many hours of practice and experience in many different situations. The local magician’s club would come in every Saturday, waiting to see what new cool things I could amaze them with, enticing their purchase. Magic skill comes from experiences with actual envolvement in performing, practice, and thoughts of. Get magically busy and you’ll get magically good.

Magically, Jack Smile
Steve Brooks
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I agree, practice does help, but magic under real world conditions will seperate the men from the boys as it were. Smile

A good analogy would be someone who has never driven a car, but has read all about it, knows what the various controls and functions are, and has maybe even driven some kind of simulator.

It's not until he or she sits in a real vehicle, and starts to actually drive, that the learning starts...but hopefully on a back road. New driver's and the Los Angeles freeway do not mix well. Smile
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
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Good Point Steve Smile
You'll wonder when I'm coming, you'll wonder even more when I'm gone. - Max Malini
Peter Marucci
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Profile of Peter Marucci
Tom Cutts makes an excellent suggestion about doing shows for hospitals, charities, etc.

Magic clubs should be -- but aren’t -- a good place to hone your skills. The audience is divided into three groups: 45 per cent just want to see a free magic show; 45 per cent want to stroke their own egos; and -- if you are lucky -- there will be 10 per cent that you can brainstorm with afterwards and get real feeback.

Remember, magic is a PERFORMANCE art so ...

the more you work, the more you work!

Peter Marucci Smile
Harry Murphy
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When are you ready? When you have a well thought out and tight ACT that has been rehearsed to the point that you don’t think about it!

Performing magic is more than doing tricks technically well!

I think that many magicians mistake “practice, practice, practice” as the key to good magic. It is only a piece of the key. And not a big piece at that!

I think that more magicians need to use “rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal”!!! The difference you ask? Well, one does practice the various moves to get a trick technically correct. However, an effect is more than the technical bits. It is the patter, the music, the rhythm, the physical moves (whole being), and the sequence of the routine. Further, rehearsal implies to me that one rehearses his/her entire act from beginning to end and has it down solid!

I cannot tell you how many great technicians that I have watched who are rotten magicians (entertainers/mystifiers). These are the ones that never miss a complicated sleight or a move but who do not concentrate on the total effect. They were flat and uninteresting.

I was performing at a Renaissance Fair some time ago and a gentleman walked up to me after my show and critiqued a couple of moves in my “Misers Dream”. His critique was interesting in that I had not performed the moves that he was critiquing (and in fact I have very few “moves” in the entire routine). He showed me several ways to better handle the coins and I made notes! I watched with awe as he demonstrated his technique.

Then I handed him my container and asked him to perform the Misers Dream with his moves. He could not. I asked him to show me a coin routine (any routine) he could not. He could show me several disconnected moves and that was it. He had not spent the time melding his moves into a nice routine. He told me that he practiced this moves each day! I suspect that he could do them in his sleep. But so what!

Turns out that he has been learning, and practicing, dozens of card and coin slights for the past 20 years, is in a magic club where he will teach his sleights, but has never developed a routine or a little act. In fact after 20 years of learning and practicing magic, he admitted that he has never performed a magic act! I believe that this man is a true scholar, but he is not a magician!

With that meeting I clearly understand David Devant’s response to a magician who had told him “I can do 100’s of magic tricks!” To which Devant responded, “I do only 10, but I do them very well!”

My point? Practice is only a piece of the process! I would say, Practice (practice, practice), Routine (routine, routine), Rehearse (rehearse, rehearse, rehearse), and Perform, Evaluate and Modify to start the process all over again! But then I could be wrong!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
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Profile of Seanamon
That is a great question!

In developing my routines (Mostly Birthday party magic), I bought a little video recorder, set up my table in the living room, put the recorder on the tripod, and went for it.

I have to tell you, that getting enthusiastic about a trick in front of your couch and loveseat is not easy. Its easy to see where you lose the energy.

I also found that the camera showed me the unconscious things I was doing to betray that something magical was going on. After scrutinizing the tapes, I would re-record and make my modifications, and by doing that I saw bad habits changed, and my confidence grow. Then I would just practice and polish.

I am from the camp where "spouse wants to strangle me", so I empathise with your situation. In my opinion having a spouse partner with you is truly a rewarding experience. But after awhile, forget about fooling her. I can do the most amazing routine, even to my eyes, and she'll respond, "It's good, but I know you had a TT". I'd ask, "Did you SEE it?" "No, but I know it's there" ARRRRAGH! Smile


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Profile of bigjoeblue
The video recorder is such a great tool, and I think watching yourself and looking for weak spots becomes easier than trying to imagine what the audience sees.
Dennis Michael
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All these posts are good.

Practice, rehearsals, video taping, reviewing, critiquing, performance, etc.
all play an important part.

The style of magic plays an important part. Lance Burton had a flawless 12 minute routine when he performed on the Carson show. Sleights require lots of time and practice.

Write your routine down and modify it continuously. (Save the early drafts.)
It will come in handy when you review them later in life.

I started out with charities, and worked in a magic shop (50 cents an hour), but I kept performing until it became second nature. Yes, I made mistakes, and yes, there were tricks that flopped. (They still do, but not as often.)
The first show is the toughest, because you want to be good.


Dennis Dowhy (800) 927-6671
Dennis Michael
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Profile of atkinsod
Mumblepeas comments are great.

Interacting with the audience is quite different than practice. You learn how well your jokes go over, how to respond to grabbers and hecklers, and how to interact with the audience rather than just showing skills.

As others have said, the progression should be gradual, and will vary from performer to performer. As a kid, you will usually show tricks to friends, who can sometimes be more brutal than most audiences. You can also perform at family functions, but the politeness may not equate with a "stranger" audience. Birthday parties should not be ruled out either. Our local library has sponsored a couple of magic shows by local magicians, and one in particular really needed the practice!

Doug A.
Steven the Amusing
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atkinsod struck a chord with me.

I've played many (small) parts in plays and I'm nearly always amazed at the variety of audience responses to the lines. After getting my lines and timing down to perfection to suit the music, mood and the other actors, I found it disconcerting the first time there were huge peals of audience laughter where there were none in "rehearsal". Fortunately the laughter was intentional Smile and I found I really started to enjoy what I was doing even more.

So taking the thought one step further, you know you're ready when you can consistently get the reaction you expect AND are prepared to handle what you don't expect. Unfortunately living breathing people in different "moods" are required to hone these skills.
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Profile of Rodan
Many excellent ideas and thoughts here.
I was wondering if, considering the above, anyone has any ideas on rehearsing a mentalists/bizarre routine which involves a lot of interaction with an audience, when you have no audience to practice to?
Example: giving out envelopes, cards etc. and taking them back. Maybe even tossing out a deck?
Play all the parts??...
"To assert the impossibility of a fact comes to the same thing as saying that it has not as yet been observed; nothing authorises us to decide that it will never be observed." Joseph Maxwell 1858-1938
Philemon Vanderbeck
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My recommendation is to find a "good" friend who is willing to help you rehearse by playing the role(s) of the audience volunteer(s).

You won't be fooling them, but you will perfect your handling and timing, plus they can make suggestions on how to improve your performance.

Once you have everything down as smooth as possible, then it's time to perform for the rest of your friends, your family, your magic club, your charity shows, and finally, your paying gigs.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
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Profile of Pokie-Poke
Find a self working trick or two, and show it to random people, the waitress (not during lunch rush) door men, train conducters, people who have to be there and have time on their hands. If you botch it, leave them there, if you do well, you'll get beter service at the restaurant next time. Smile
In the mean time, work on the harder sleights at home till they too are self working, if you do them right, there should be no difference between the two as far as the lay are concerned.
The Adventure cont...
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Profile of Jerrine
I'm a newbie and I have been practicing using a mirror to get the basics of whatever I am attempting down. Then I speed it up a little by little till I can do it just about the speed I want to. While going through the motions I will mentally recite any lines and try to match them to any moves that need be. During this time is when I marry the move to the line, often the most important part of the rehearsal. This is when the material becomes personal. I find what fits my rhythm and what needs to be altered, both in move and speech. After the changes are made then I whip out the Video recorder and see what it looks like from the other side, full performance mode. While watching I time the material to get a general idea how long it goes.

After I can perform to Video to my satisfaction, then the S.O. comes into play. She gets to see and critique the material, and often has good suggestions on what will play well. I evaluate her criticism and make any changes. Rehearse to Video again to iron everything out and then I give her the O.K. to invite whoever to see whatever because I have it ready to perform. Then unsuspecting people passing through are subjected to a plethora of material and I get to see how the general public reacts. I take notice of younger vs. older, Male/Female, etc. Go back to the video and add/subtract things till it is solidly flexible for performance.

Then I am ready for those outside the circle.
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Well I think you should simply "start" performing. This may sound odd, but I think it is hard to determine when you "can" start. Of course you should know your effects, and you should be able to perform them flawlessly. But how about getting training on for example "spectator participation"? In my opinion when you think you are ready you should give it a try. Very often these people have already gained some experience from performing for friends and family, so there is a certain background. Then when you do your first performance ask a friend to come with you, to listen to spectators reactions, and maybe to video tape your performance. Then try to improve it.

Optimists have more fun.....
Father Photius
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Where magic clubs should be the best place, but often are not, I find that in a magic club I will make friends with one or more competent magicians and entertainers who have always been more than willing to review and give constructive criticism to my performance. I , in return, do the same for others.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
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