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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » How to be entertaining...and why some magicians aren´t (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

AndreJ
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I think there is a common problem among magicians, and that problem is that they focus more on their tricks and their selves than on their audience. It´s not uncommon to see magicians performing, and the end result for the audience is a feeling that the magician is just showing off his/her skills.

Don't get me wrong, there´s nothing wrong with showing off skills, it´s just not always entertaining. If you go to a circus and watch acrobats, they are showing off theirs skills BUT you also have that portion of excitement...will they fall to their deaths? You as a spectator care about the acrobats and hope they will survive...you are emotionally engaged in the act. In magic, that isn't as easy to do unless you walk on fire och swallow swords (which in fact may not be magic).

So how do you get an audience emotionally involved in your magic? This is a question I have struggled with for many years.

For myself, not being shy but...should we say humble...I´m not all that comfortable with showing magic tricks just to show off my skills. I has always been worried about being seen as arrogant, or "superior" to the audience.

The solution, for me, was quite simple, and I must send a big "thanks" to Jamie D Grant and his wonderful book The Approach. Jamie writes that the job of a magician is to entertain and spread joy. The tool may be magic, but you are an entertainer first and foremost.

The solution is: ASK the spectators questions ABOUT THEMSELVES, and then connect that to the trick. People often like to talk about themselves, and that like to be a part of the fun, and if they feel that they are part of the fun...they are entertained.

An example:

Balance by Mark Eldsdon.
I use this as an opener and I think it´s really good. The problem is that just showing off that I can balance a deck of cards on my fingers doesn't connect the audience with the trick. So I ask a question first.

It would go something like this: "I used to be a soccer goalie when I was young. Tell me, did any of you play soccer, or any other sports?" Then we talk a little about their answer, what team, what position, if they were any good and so forth. Then...after a minute or two...I go back to the trick. "Do you know what´s really important for a soccer goalie? Balance..." and off we go.


So...here is my tip: Go through your repertoire and figure out one single question that you could ask your audience prior to every trick.

Thought and comments?


-------
Just to give you some more examples, here are some of "my" current tricks and my questions:

Crazy Mans Handcuffs: "Most people have never seen magic close-up. Have you ever seen magic close up?
CardWarp: "You know the phrase The hand is quicker than the eye? Let me show you the opposite of that"
Ring on string: "Rings often means something to the one carrying them. How did you get this ring? What does it mean to you?"
Nested Wallets: "Valuables should be kept safe. How do you keep your valuables at home? (said with tongue in cheek...)"
Ambitious Card (I use an animal theme): "I used to have a dog. Have you ever had a pet? If you could have any pet animal in the world, what would that be? Why?"
Double Card Thought Projection by Colin Mcleod: "Do you have a friend or relative that you know so good it´s almost like you could read his/her mind? Who is that? Tell us about him/her?"
My background: Loved magic for 25 years, always wanted to do paid gigs but never had the courage. Faced my fears some years ago and now perform regularly.
Terrible Wizard
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Cool. Do you mind if I steal some of those lines ... ?
AndreJ
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Not at all! Go ahead.
My background: Loved magic for 25 years, always wanted to do paid gigs but never had the courage. Faced my fears some years ago and now perform regularly.
Terrible Wizard
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Thanks Smile Be interesting to see what other posters say.
AndreJ
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Yeah!

To all...what kind of questions would you use for your tricks?
My background: Loved magic for 25 years, always wanted to do paid gigs but never had the courage. Faced my fears some years ago and now perform regularly.
davidpaul$
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Thanks for the post....I am very passionate about this as I perform several times a week. AndreJ pretty much said it all.
A couple extra thoughts. I bought a book on how to draw simple cartoon ( animals) characters. Like Andre I ask my audience if they have a pet (dog, cat etc.) I then draw the pet on the back of card utilizing Richard Sanders' Mr.Stickman routine. The family pet is important to THEM so the entertaiment value has meaning is personal and FUN.

I purchase star shaped wands from the Dollar Store (8 for a buck) and give them to the kids (sometimes adults depending on their personality ) and THEY make the magic happen with their wands.

One last example, when performing for a couple, I use Carl Andrews' version of Anniversary Waltz but we talk about how they met, where they saw each other eye to eye, face to face, for the very first time. They be married, dating but the the process and ending of the effect often lead the two to reach across the table for a quick kiss. That's what it is all about for me when I'm performing.
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
AndreJ
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Great post Davidpaul! I will check out those wands and see if they (or something similar) are sold in my town.

I also use Anniversary Waltz, but I go with Doc Easons version.
My background: Loved magic for 25 years, always wanted to do paid gigs but never had the courage. Faced my fears some years ago and now perform regularly.
Tukaram
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I have seen quite a few magicians here in the Philippines (at competitions and birthday parties). So far all of them I have seen come out, do a bunch of tricks with a loud musical score, and then they leave. No audience interaction at all. It is more a 'look what I can do' parade. Lots of confetti and umbrellas popping out everywhere...

At the last birthday I was at the magician was doing the same thing, but during his closer, the disappearing Coke bottle (crumpled in a bag - like the ketchup bottle) when he "accidentally" let the audience see the bottle in the bag right before crumpling it, the audience went nuts trying to point it out to him. It was the only audience interaction in the entire show and the audience loved it. Sure should have been a LOT more interaction.

I like to talk to the audience and engage them. And I need to learn a lot more about it! I take my cues from some of the kid performers, like Silly Billy. You don't have to use the over the top character - but keep your audience involved with the show. How many interactions per minute do you get...

Same reason I always liked Doug Henning more than David Copperfiled. Copperfield always seemed more like 'hey look waht I can do' magician. Henning loved to talk to the audience and keep them engaged. Same with Harry Anderson (another of my favorites).
Dick Oslund
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Tusen tuk! Andre!

I "spend" a lot of pages in my book on this topic! I call it "holding a CONVERSATION w I t h the audience".

Tukaram! I've seen "that" too! --and,too often! I use somewhat the same phrase to describe the "look how clever I am" magician. May I point out, that the first three letters of the word, "conversation" are "con", from the Latin, "cum", meaning "with". So! Please change your preposition from "to" to "with"! (Words do have meaning!)

About five years ago, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jon Racherbaumer and I had just eaten our lunch in the French Quarter. Jon showed me a magazine article (not a magic magazine) that really emphasized this point. The writer finished his article with: (I'm paraphrasing) "Those artists and performers in the coming years, who can interact with, and involve their audience, will have work! Those who can't--or won't, will find bookings scarce."

With children, especially, this is true! Fortunately, I had learned this when I was beginning, back in the '50s. It has made my performing career much more FUN, for ME, as well as those whom I'm entertaining!

Theo. Annemann called it "en rapport"! Theo. was 'ahead of his time"!

When Doug Henning and I first met, at an "Abbott's Get Together" in the mid '60s, it was apparent that he, at age 17, understood "things" like this!

It's time for "kaffee klatsch"......
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
silvercup
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I don't use the question angle much at all, not that it's not ideal for others. I mostly busk so the involvement comes with constant interaction between myself and them from the moment they stop, till and after they pay. Monte, card involvement, fast & loose, shell game, C&B bits, etc.
The lack of questions comes from the sales adage don't ask a question you could get a negative response to and since I'm leading the parade so to speak I want to make sure there is no down time and the direction is definite. The goal is to get faces smiling so there is much humor and self-deprecation and then work off that.
When I do question someone it's to stun the mind for a second that I need.

Connection with the audience is crucial, I think more in our thing more than other arts, and it is amazing how many toss it aside. We need them to like us and be on our side. Who has warm feelings for someone who treats you like you aren't there?
Kuzushi
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Wouldn't it be interesting to learn how to interact with people in a more powerful way? What would you notice if they were deeply engaged with everything you said and did? Did you know that there is actually a whole branch of sales theory that believes questions, the right from and structure of questions, are one of the most powerful tools in a salesman's repertoire?

When everything is going right between you and the spectators, what's that like? What kinds of things are you doing in those moments? What else could there be? I'm not quite sure how far down the rabbit hole you are looking to go but a book you may want to check out is:

"Secrets of Question-Based Selling: How the Most Powerful Tool in Business Can Double Your Sales Results" by Thomas Freese
55Hudson
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Kuzushi - also see Spin Selling by Neil Rackham. He was a pioneer in effective sales through questions.

Hudson
Szymon Krzysztoszek
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That's pretty good advice for everyone. I will look at my tricks today and I hope I will post my ideas.
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