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Topic: Don't be afraid to turn down shows if....
Message: Posted by: Jaxon (Dec 8, 2005 06:51PM)
There is a lot of discussion among magician about how to get magic shows/gigs. Where to perform and what venues are good for magic. But there's a flip side to that topic that I rarely see discussed and I think it's just as important. That's when not to perform and when to turn down shows.

Why would you want to turn down a show? Well, there are the obvious reasons of schedule and location. But there also other reasons you might turn down a gig when it's offered to you. Let me share a few of them but I'm sure there are many others.

[b]Your show doesn't fit the venue[/b]
No matter how good of a performer you are there will be certain venues that won't fit your performing style. For example a magician that uses a lot of fire probably shouldn't take a gig if it's in a school for kids. If kids shows are your specialty then you should probably turn down that corporate dinner unless they are hiring you to perform for kids there.

An example I saw some years ago was at a local mall. They had a show in the mall with jugglers, puppet shows and a magician. The magician started out with a little manipulation act and I thought he did a pretty good job. There was a pretty good sized crowd watching him. Then when he started talking it was obvious that he was a gospel magician. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that but the crowd quickly started to shrink as people walked away. The point being that he was performing a show that didn't fit the venue. To bad though because he was doing a good job.

[b]Age groups[/b]
Similar to the last one. You should consider the age group you'll be performing for. If you do a lot of magic that kids won't understand or isn't appropriate for kids then it would probably be best to turn that show down. The same for adults. If the group that wants to hire you is a group of adults who happen to enjoy adult humor then they won't be to entertained by your stratosphere and balloon animals.

There are many other reasons and I'll share more that come to mind. I hope some of you might share your thoughts on this as well for we've all had different experiences.

Now it's not a matter of you not being able to work in a variety of venues. For example I can do a pretty good kids show but it's not my best arena. If I'm asked to do a kids show and I don't think I'd be the best magician for the job I'd usually refer them to another magician I know in my area who does a much better kids show then I do.

The reason I think this is so important to think about is that if you perform in a situation that isn't right for you then you're show will less likely be received as your best performance. You can perform what fits you for the right audience in the right venue and they'll enjoy your show much more then one that doesn't fit you. This can be harmful to your reputation on the long run. Someone might have seen your show for an audience that wasn't quite right for you and give a bad review to others who might ask about your work. On the other hand the right situation will probably bring you a much better review.

So if you're ever asked to perform in a situation you're not accustomed to then think about if you should take that job or not.

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: ConjuringCoach (Dec 8, 2005 07:20PM)
Excellent advice for all. I especially appreciate the audience age consideration. There are social quirks the distinguish children from teens from adults from seniors. If you don't keep them in mind you will embarass yourself or your audience, neither of which will be appreciated.

Some examples from my own experience:
-Children don't keep secrets very well. If you are trying to do a comedy pickpocket routine they will reveal to your victim by shouts before you are ready.

-Sucker tricks get old quickly for adults. They have had some exposure with magic, variety acts, theater, and the like. Don't force them to sit through 3 min of by-play for 10 seconds of magic.

-Seniors do not appreciate tricks that might make them appear foolish. This should technically be applied to all audiences since it is tasteless to make a volunteer look stupid. However, that being said, things like the standard patter for Hopping Halves would make someone who should be respected as an elder with more life experience look lost and confused. Someday that person may not cooperate in the routine or may get angry and walk off the stage.

Bottom line as Ron proposed. If you don't have experience with a particular crowd learn about them. Get exposure before throwing magic into the mix.

One other thing I would recommend, if you are performing in a mixed venue, keep the youngest or most vulnerable audience members in mind. If parents have kids in the audience and you pull a knife out to start hacking your arm....some adults without kids will giggle, those with will run away. The audience will only see people leaving your show and that looks bad. Crying kids are a distraction and if a loud noise from your show startles them you will have a difficult time getting the audience back.

Message: Posted by: Corey Harris (Dec 8, 2005 07:42PM)
Ron, Like always you have made a very good point. I have had the opportunity to do some kids shows in my area and have turned them down because I don't do kids stuff. I don't do balloon animals or any thing like that. There have been some including my mentor that think I am crazy. Your post makes me feel good about me turning down these shows.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Dec 9, 2005 12:51PM)
Excellent insight there Ron. Especially about refering them to another magician in the area who might fit the venue better. Next time they want a magician, they are likely to contact you again, and it might be the right venue this time. Plus, a the reputation of a poor job will follow you for a long time.
Message: Posted by: Jaxon (Dec 9, 2005 05:09PM)
How does the saying go?

"Good news travels fast. Bad news travels even faster."

Something like that and it's very true. I should have said that in my original post.

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: Jaxon (Dec 15, 2005 06:51PM)
I turned down a couple of shows for new years eve this year. I decided I just want to enjoy it this year for a change.. :)

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: Hawkan (Dec 16, 2005 09:50AM)
Like always, a very good post från Jaxon.
Last week I turned down a show for a different reason. I´m at that point where I think we all will get after a while;
starting out by performing for people I know, then beginning to get calls from friends of friends and so on. Suddenly I´m performing almost every weekend. And that´s fun, of course. But this show was too big. I have never used a PA system, but there have been times I thought it would have been better.

When I thought about this show I realized that I would have to use a microphone, speakers and whatnot. But I don´t have the stuff, and have never used it. If I had accepted to perform I would have looked very bad: a) if I performed without a sound system nobody would hear me - how unprofessional... b) if I performed with a mike, speakers etc I would feel uncomfortable, unsure, and it would show

So I turned down the show. Now I´m looking around for my first sound system.

Message: Posted by: ConjuringCoach (Dec 16, 2005 01:57PM)
Good call Håkan. You made the right decision. Especially when it comes to a sound system. Nothing is more irritating than hearing a squeal/squawk from a speaker because the magi accidentally crosses in front of a speaker when he goes out into the audience, etc. It is not too complicated but some rudimentary training and rehearsal makes all the difference in the world.

Too often magicians will rehearse their effects but won't do it in costume or with the backdrops, lights, or sounds they will be using live. You can tell because the whole show has an unpolished tint.

Isn't it great to find yourself at a point of growth though? Knowing that it's time to invest in a sound system, planning for it, rehearsing with it, then selling it. Things continue to get better as you grow and plan for growth.

*applause Håkan*

Message: Posted by: Jaxon (Dec 16, 2005 05:40PM)
Yea, I'm glad you thought about it and made a wise decision. I'm sure you could have performed a good show but knowing that you have an issue to work out and couldn't in time for this show is great. Hopefully they'll call again next year or something and you'll be ready.

I had a real hard time with the sound system issue. Obviously because of my deafness. The first time I did a show that required a mic I wasn't prepared in a number of ways. First of all I had no idea how close I should be when I talk into the mic. As a result some people told me they couldn't hear what I was saying. I do a lot of spoken comedy so that means they missed a big part of my performance.

The other problem I had was I wasn't use to that mic stand being in front of me and having to stand in one spot. Since then I use a hands free mic (thanks to a DJ friend) and have more practice using them. I which I could go back and turn that show down though. Now I know better.

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: Philosophry (Dec 17, 2005 12:16AM)
Mics take a bit of getting used to. The first time I used one I just assumed that my normal voice would be amplified, so I spoke into it and people said afterwords that they could hardly hear me. If you're not going to get soundchecked first, you have to muck about a bit at first to make sure everyone can hear you.
Message: Posted by: zippy (Dec 25, 2005 08:38PM)
Excellent advice Ron
Message: Posted by: Michael Taggert (Dec 26, 2005 08:58AM)
Excellent posts Gentlemen! I learned the Most powerfull magic word NO! early on in my performance Career. It has helped me beyond what I have said yes to. I know am able to focus on doing a high quality show in the venues I am comfortable performing and make good money doing it.