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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The July 2010 entrée: Tyler Wilson » » Attention: Spans! » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Donny Orbit
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937 Posts

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Ty,

Do you have any thoughts on how to keep an audiences attention span when you aren't doing a 12 packet, eye candy filled sugar rush of a false cut?

Most of my effects have built in humor that helps keep things entertaining, but when everything is how fast can I get from a to b, why isn't my computer faster and where is my food already, how do you keep spectators in the "Now" of the routine?

DO
Tyler Wilson
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Calgary
123 Posts

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Hey Donny,
It really blows my mind that we have to worry about keeping people's attention when we do freakin' MAGIC! If we approach a table and claim to be a magician, you would expect everyone to stop whatever it is they're doing, yell at the band to stop playing, and ask you to hold off just a few minutes so they can call all of their friends and family to come down and partake in the glory. But alas, that isn't the case 5% of the time.

Much of the issue falls into something I call the Too Perfect (Manners) Theory:

Overly polite people are boring. I'm not even talking about polite magicians, just people in general. It's always a treat to meet someone with impeccable manners, but that doesn't mean they ain't boring! So when magicians don’t truly engage the audience because they're too busy with their noses up the spectators' rear end, it creates a sterile, boring environment. By no means will I endorse acting like a complete jerk, but we're not talking about black and white here; it's all gray.

Stimulating the audience will take more than a "please" and "thank you" and sometimes even involves *gasp* pushing the proverbial envelope around. Will you push it too far on some occasions? Sure, it's inevitable. But I can guarantee a stronger bond (and therefore stronger attentiveness) by not playing the role of patsy.

It all comes down to respect; your audience deserves nothing less. However don't confuse "respect" and "polite", they are completely different. Do you respect your friends and family? Of course you do. Are you completely cordial around them? Of course not. You joke around with them and even gently rib them. It shows you're comfortable with each other. On the flipside, how do you act when you're around people you don’t like? You probably act nice and don't really say much, again, because you're not really comfortable around each other. It’s strange to think that you give a harder time to the people you like and respect, than the people you don’t, but it’s the truth (as counter-intuitive as it sounds). At any given gig, you can find me pinky swearing, sniffing, and even slapping my spectators.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes that speaks volumes about this topic:

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. " - Bill Cosby

Tyler Wilson
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