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Topic: Magic (performing); HELP!
Message: Posted by: Epithany (Apr 5, 2008 09:53AM)
I'm not even sure why I'm posting this at all. I don't expect anyone to be able to help me, and I wouldn't be surprised if this post went unanswered.

I love performing magic, it's something that I really enjoy doing and, the very few times that I've actually done it (outside of my bedroom and the mirror), I got good responses (inspite of the trembling, shaking and 'rabbit in the headlights' look of absolute terror).:hmmm:

The trouble is, I'm a complete coward... :( I just can't seem to get over my nerves. I find a chance to perform and I [b]always[/b] back out at the last second.

I've been told that I should quit...that magic/performing just isn't for me, and they're probably right. But the only thing that makes me feel worse than the thought of performing is the thought that I never will.

I have a chance to perform again in a couple of days. I have thought about the tricks that I would do and have practised them as much as possible. But I think that, when it comes down to it, I'll probably end up backing out like I always do. I'm terrified just thinking about it now.

I dare say no-one will be the least bit surprised though. They pretty much expect it from me now, and a couple of people have already told me that they know I wont go through with it (helpful aren't they?).


If anyone has any advice I'd appreciate it...if not...well, at least I got this off my chest.

Signed: The 20+ year old coward.
Message: Posted by: gardini (Apr 5, 2008 10:14AM)

hi, first thing is don't give up that's the most important piece of advice, second is who ever told you to stop, don't listen to them because they do not have your best instrests at heart.

Most of us (myself included) were extreamly nervous the first couple of dozen times, with each performence it lessons abit each time untill you get to the point that its not a big deal anymore. Weather your a actor comedain, muscian salesman or a magician people get nervous its what you turn and do with it that makes the differnce in your life.

The main three words that you should take to heart is practice, courage and perseveance, doing that you can do what ever you want to do if you put your mind to it.

Join your local Toastmaster club, they teach public speaking by making you get up and talk to the group each night, there really is no subsitute that would build your confidence quicker.

Don't give up

Sorry can't get the spell checker working today, lol
Message: Posted by: raywitko (Apr 5, 2008 10:35AM)
I'm basically a shy person but once I'm on stage I become a different person. Just jump in and get your feet wet. Enjoy yourself and if you know your routines you shouldn't have any problem. Let us know how it went.
Message: Posted by: The Amazing Noobini (Apr 5, 2008 12:50PM)
Everything you describe, Epithany is true for me as well. I know that doesn't help you at all but at least you should know that it isn't just you. Some people have a bubble around them that they can't seem to break out of. In their imagination they perform every day. But when they have to open their mouth in the real world, only stuttering mumbling sounds emerge.

Having read virtually every posts on nerves in this café, I can say that what seems to have helped most people get over their nerves is to just do it (badly) again and again. Eventually it apparently becomes easier. But it can take time.

As you are young and do have the opportunity to perform, I therefore suggest that you take it even though you are really too afraid to. (Easy for me to say, I know). Try to find some material that doesn't require steady hands to begin with. That is another thing people here have always told me: Start with self working tricks and stuff that is harder to screw up.

I believe that a lot of the "think a happy thought" advice which will possibly follow in this thread is nonsense. If you have difficulties with your nerves you are likely to manically imagine the worst possible outcome of a magic date no matter how much you tell yourself that it will be OK. Well... some people seem to have the ability to easily make themselves believe all kinds of nonsense, but the fact of the matter is that you are afraid and this needs to be faced head on. It is a genuine problem that cannot be solved through self hypnosis or lucky charms.
Message: Posted by: mrunge (Apr 5, 2008 04:12PM)
Epithany, first, welcome to the Café! You'll find some great people here.

Now...don't consider yourself a coward. Everyone is nervous when they started, and some still are after many shows under there belts. That's just human nature and is completely normal.

If getting up in public is part of the issue, then as mentioned, Toastmasters is a fantastic group to get to know. Another suggestion would be to team up with another magician in your area who has performing experience and go do the show together. There's strength in numbers and they can take a LOT of the pressure off of you.

Just start where you feel comfortable and do that. Don't try to do a complete magic show if you're not ready. That's the last thing you should do. Think baby steps. Crawl, then walk, then run! There is a real progression that takes place and you can't jump ahead of it.

Grab a couple of effects you do, and do really well. Go out and perform them for as many people as you can to get some "one-on-one" experience doing magic for others and do it as often as possible. Then move on to bigger things when you're ready. You'll know when you are and you'll be a pro in no time!

Hang in there.

Mark. :)
Message: Posted by: marty.sasaki (Apr 5, 2008 04:43PM)
There are well known performers, in all areas, that have terrible nerves before they go on, yet they do it anyway. As you have found, usually once you get going, unless it is a disaster happening, you get better, you get less nerves.

Try not to make it a big deal. Certainly work on things, but don't let it build up in your mind to the point where you panic. Just do a little bit. Once you do something, you will feel better and then it will be easy.

What's the worst that can happen? You could make a mistake, no big deal. If you are performing for friends, then they will be kind, they want you to succeed. If they are strangers, well, you may never see them again, but if you try then they will be left with the impression that you are likeable and are willing to try things out.

But I know what you mean. I recently performed for the first time for a group of magicians. I was increadibly nervous, flashed several times, forgot most of the jokes, but I got through it and am better off for having done it. Next time will likely be better, and the next after that will be better still.

I've performed at friends dinner parties, and informal get togethers. I was at a birthday party for a friend and things went over really well. Each time I was very nervous, but things got better once I got started.

Good luck.
Message: Posted by: Aus (Apr 5, 2008 08:27PM)
Epithany stay tuned I will have a how to guide on this topic coming very soon.


Message: Posted by: Chappo (Apr 5, 2008 09:42PM)
The best thing about performing, especially in corporate work, is that the audience has no preconceived notions about how you actually work. Sure, there is always the stereotype of some git in a cape and top hat brandishing doves at you, but you personal appearance can change this. Say to yourself that you are a professional, you are in your zone, the audiences mood is at your fingertips.

I dunno. The more I write, the more I'm confusing myself. But I hope you know what I am trying to say. Good luck! :)
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Apr 6, 2008 05:56AM)
Welcome to the Café.

Getting the shakes it the most natural thing in the world . . . so do not get hung up on this. It will never be gone 100%, but it will reduce itself to a good, almost enjoyable tension that will be gone the minute you step into the spot light.

So how to reduce the shakes. Confidence is the key and also experience. So only perform a trick after you have rehearsed it 100 times and more. Then seek as much performing esperience as possible.

Message: Posted by: Jaz (Apr 6, 2008 07:14AM)
Besides practicing, you need to rehearse.
After practicing the techniques, have a good idea what you will say and when you will say it. Use patter that's natural for you. If you're not good at jokes or storytelling then don't do it.

Now put it all together and rehearse.
Pretend there's an audience. You can pretend some of the objects in your practice area are people. Talk to them.
Do the whole act, tricks and patter, over and over evaluating the act as you go.
Fix what feel needs fixing.
That's about all you can do.

When you perform, remain as calm as you were in rehearsal and do just what you did in rehearsal.
It may not turn out exactly as anticipated but here is where you really begin to learn.

Most of us still get those adrenalin rushes or nervous to a degree. At least I do.
Even the the most rehearsed routine can go wrong but it's not the end of the world. We are human after all. If that happens, laugh it off and move on. It will get better.
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Apr 6, 2008 12:18PM)
Everything above is great. Do that stuff. But, there is one last link in this entire process that you have to integrate into HOW YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

The most common reason that folks are nervous about doing magic is as follows: They don't want to get caught. Period. They/YOU don't want to get caught, busted, made to look goofy....whatever.


The disease: The fear of 'getting' caught is much more problematic than actually getting caught or screwing up or 'whatever' that you fear. Why? Because, the fear itself will cause you to be tight and awkward in what you do.

The Cure: Consider for a moment.....what is the worst thing that could happen if you get busted? Will more babies die of hunger? Will Muslim terrorists decide that that's the 'Last straw' and kill more civilians? Will the cure for cancer that was JUST about to be discovered slide into obscurity BECAUSE ... YOU .... screwed up a trick?

Trust me on this....the answer to all and sundry is NO! If you get busted, if you screw up nothing bad will happen.....NOTHING at all. The only bad is in fact YOUR anticipation of it!!!

Magic secrets are just not that important in the wider issues of life. Don't get me wrong...magic has been my professional life for the last 35+ years. I LOVE the craft and I am not advocating for slip shod technique or a lack of serious attention to what you do with your magic. That's not the point. The point is simple: Don't sweat getting caught, making a mistake, etc. I repeat: What in the world could really happen if you do?

Again....trust me on this: Magic is to non-magicians of so little consequence that even if you TOLD them the method of a trick they will probably forget it within the hour OR want to become magicians themselves...a fairly rare thing to happen!

Do this: Get a trick you like that you CAN NOT screw up. Do that trick for everyone you can until you are no longer nervous when you do it....then move on.

If interested Private Message me and I will recommend the closest thing to an absolute stone killer sure thing that I sell in my online magic store. I used to open my close-up work with it. You need to build up a background of success. On that you then continue to build one trick at a time. Before you know it your
'performing fear' will be a thing of the past. Best,
Message: Posted by: Aus (Apr 7, 2008 12:29AM)
Here’s a seek peek of my up coming how-to guide, will post it soon, however I think you would get better benefit from it now. Follow this link:



Message: Posted by: The Amazing Noobini (Apr 7, 2008 05:49AM)
Actually, some people really are cowards. Myself included. It's a good thing really, just not a nice word in our culture.

If everyone in the tribe goes out to hunt sabretooth tigers the entire population could easily become extinct. So somebody has to stay at home and figure out how to rub sticks together to make fire. And besides these given individual qualities, we are formed throughout our childhood into winners and losers and outgoing shameless types and neurotic shy types and every other variety.

Some people are just more high strung than others. Of course we all understand that nothing horrible can really happen. If you have problems with your nerves it doesn't help to explain the obvious to yourself. You cannot pep-talk your way out of nerves if you are suffering from real problems. But you can slowly learn by doing.

I suspect that many of those who have coached themselves for a while and eventually seen an improvement have in reality seen the results of their experience over time with performing. Instead of telling themselves that "what's the worst that could happen" every night they may as well have read a recipe for apple crumble. Everybody already knows that the world will not end if you screw something up. That knowledge is not a great revelation.

One thing that I have begun thinking about is to use the nervousness as a tool in the act. For a while at least. Like already mentioned, you can say to the spectators that you are nervous. How about an act where everything seems to go wrong in an amazing way? Trembling fingers will seem like incredible acting abilities. "Oh my... that wasn't supposed to happen... I don't know how that Ace got in there, I'm so sorry".
Message: Posted by: JasonbytheOcean (Apr 7, 2008 08:20AM)

I have to also recommend Toastmasters. If you can find a good local group, they'll teach you how to work with (not get over!) your fear, and channel it into productive speaking and listening (which is also just as important!). It's been an immense help to me.

Fear is natural. While, when performing, I don't get AS nervous as I once did, I entered my first magic contest last year, and became so nervous in front of a group of my magical peers that during my first trick one might have thought I was in an earthquake. I didn't win, oh well - but, the constructive feedback I got from the experience has only encouraged me to keep at it. Each year, since I've been performing, I've performed at a friend's Halloween party. When I think back to that first year, I almost cringe - the effects were good, the presentation was lacking. Definitely not one on my more memorable moments. I kept at it. However, my show last year went so well that people are still talking about it, and wondering what I'm going to do this year; of course, now I'm nervous because I've "raised the bar."

Also, performing magic has that rare symptom that's very difficult to achieve with other types of speaking. Once you create something that gets a look of absolute astonishment and wonder on someone's face, you'll never turn back, no matter how nervous you feel. At least, that's how it's been with me.
Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (Apr 7, 2008 11:20AM)
One thing you must look at is: are you doing what is "you"? Or are you trying to stuff yourself into some perception of what a magician should be? From your description, you seem to have the ability to perform the actions. But are those actions natural to you?

I just read a post - and can't find the thread now!! - from someone who said their mentor at one time tried to get them to do a routine with a rubber chicken. It was agreat routine, he said, but it wasn't him. There was another thread (in the Comedy section, I think) from someone asking about a card peek gag, and why it didn't work for him but killed for others. The answer is simple - it works for some but not for others.

So what _does_ work for you? What topic of conversation makes your eyes light up and gets you deeply interested? What social settings or activities are you excited about being a part of? If you had all the time and all the money you needed, what would you be doing?

Brad's given some excellent advice. Most often we are simply afraid of "what if I fail"? The answer is in several parts: you will fail, and don't sweat it; do what flows naturally and you have fun doing, and failure will be less likely; and pratice and rehearse and failure becomes a rare thing. (One poster - in one of the Cards sections, I think - was asking about this particular trick that he occasionally gets busted on. The originator of the effect replied with help - and the observation that _he_ had just recently gotten busted doing his own routine!)

I'm not a close-up guy, and I'm not a big stage guy. Doing some of these types of things will help me, but I'm not comforable doing a whole show like that. I'm not a birthday party guy, though I like kids (medium well, carrots and celery, touch of BBQ).

Find your place - you'll know it when you do, because it will feel comfortable. Maybe check out some beginner's theater classes at the local community college. Above all, if the drive to perform is there, find a way to express it in a safe and comfortable way. Or you'll wind up frustrated always wondering what could have been.

Message: Posted by: loyaleagle (Apr 7, 2008 11:32AM)
The best way to conquer your fear is to take control of the situation. Try to get everyone to follow your rules (lay out the chairs so they sit where you want) and try to strike out a commanding presence from the beginning. When you are in control, it will be easier for you to show your art because you will be more confident in the setting. I too get nervous sometimes when performing a trick, but if you've practiced tons of times, the moves will come more naturally and you won't have to worry about flubbing the trick.

So, get control of the situation and practice until you can just perform like breathing.
Message: Posted by: Cyar (Apr 7, 2008 03:00PM)
To add an alternate suggestion, you might try building up to a performance by doing a single trick for someone you know and trust. Of if you're sitting with someone who doesn't know you do magic, just pull out the cards or coins and play with them, when they ask you do you do magic, you can say that you just play around, taking the onus off you to be perfect and allowing you to try something out with less pressure. Or ask someone in the park or mall if they have a minute and that it would really help you out if they could sit and watch. Most people like to be helpful especially when it's as easy as being an audience member. Basically I'm talking about taking baby steps from wherever you are right now and building up your comfort level.

You may be familiar with Émile Coué and the application of his famous conscious autosuggestion, "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." I've found that if you've been very hard on yourself, and try an do a complete 180 degree turn by telling yourself "I can perform, I can perform," that the subconscious mind will only reject this because it's too extreme to what it's been told in the past.

Instead, try telling yourself that you're open to the belief or the possibility that you can perform without any stress or forcing of the issue. The subconscious mind cannot refute this and it's a small step to take from some of the negative things you've been telling yourself.

Let's know how you do!
Message: Posted by: krowboom (Apr 10, 2008 04:09PM)
A couple of ideas. First, practice your tricks in front of someone you don't mind screwing up in front of (e.g. your wife, brother, friend, etc.). Have them point out any mistakes and have them comment on your presentation.
Second, try doing a warm up that is easy to do. I like to do the flowering bush similar to the way Steve Taylor does it. It gets everyone laughing, gets rid of the jitters, and helps you segue into the rest of your routine.
Message: Posted by: Epithany (May 1, 2008 01:11PM)
Well, in case anyone was wondering, I chickened out again. :(


I had every chance to do it, but in the end I just couldn't.
Message: Posted by: Jaxon (May 1, 2008 02:39PM)
First let me say that I did not read all the posts up till now because I just wanted to share my thoughts on the original post. So sorry if I'm repeating anything. I just that things come to mind the moment I was reading and don't want to be influenced away from them.

The first thing I'd say to you is this. All you're doing is magic. I know it seems like a huge thing because we get so caught up into it. But when you break it all down we're just showing someone a magic trick. No matter how bad the trick bombs, no matter how terrible the experience could possibly feel if all goes wrong. It's just a magic trick.

Let's look at what the worse thing that could happen. Let's say you're doing a card trick. You mess up and find the wrong card. You're hands start shaking and you drop cards on the floor. You bend over to pick them up. When you stand up you accidentally knock someones drink out of their hand with your head. You stumble when you bump your head and your pants fall down to your ankles. You bend over to pick your pants up and all your props fall out of your pocket (thumb tip, trick deck, etc...). Sounds like a nightmare doesn't it? But guess what. All you messed up is a card trick. It's not the end of the world and unless you let it the entire experience will have no effect on you the next day. OK, your pants falling down might effect you longer but that has nothing to do with the card trick that went wrong. :)

Now this is coming from someone who had to put a lot of work into having the courage to not only perform for strangers but to even talk to them. I haven't posted in here in a while but I'm deaf and I had a real hard time in the beginning. We all did in one way or another. But like I said. We're just doing magic tricks. You may very well overcome this and end up one of the great magicians or our time. You certainly wouldn't be the first to get past that feeling and go places with your magic.

On top of the realization that even if a trick messes up it's not the end of the world. Here are a few peices of advice that although may not seem all that helpful at first in the long run I'm pretty sure they can be of some help to you.

By reading your post one of the things you suffer is known as Approach anxiety. This is that feeling of fear that you get when you want to perform for someone but are scared out of your wits to get started. you're mind starts to analyze all that could go wrong or try to figure out how to approach them. We all feel it and for some of us, like me, it never goes away completely. But you can overcome it. Here area a few suggestions.

Go to places were you don't know anyone or don't know many people. This can be anywhere such as a park, a store/mall. Anyplace you might see many people. While you're there just put a happy face on. Not a wide smile just think a happy thought any walk around. Make eye contact with people. Don't stare. Just make eye contact as you walk by. If they smile at you then broaden your smile and smile back. Nod your head, say hello, any kind of greeting. If the opportunity arrives shake their hands.

I know this may seem corny but let me explain why I suggest this. Rather then going into to many technical terms about Nero pathways. I'll just say that the more use to making any kind of positive connection to other people and receiving positive responses (Such as them smiling back, nodding their head or shaking your hand) will help you get use to having contact with strangers. Their not as scary as they seem.

Another suggestion is to work out no more then three tricks. Perform them for friends and family. Perfect them so well that you don't even have to think about them. So when the time comes to do them for a stranger you'll know with out a doubt that you can do it. And chances are that when you perform for your friends and family they might bring a friend along from time to time that you don't know. It'll take time but you'll gain the confidence.

When you are confident in your ability to perform the few tricks you've mastered and a time comes to perform them for strangers. Don't hesitate. As soon as you are about to approach the people to show the trick to. GO RIGHT AWAY! I stressed that because the longer you wait the worse the fear is going to get. Just go right up and do it. Don't think. You already know how to do the trick so you don't have to think. You just do it. It's the first moment that you have to get past.

One more thing. If anyone ever tells you they don't want to see a trick. Don't get mad. Don't get discouraged. Don't take it personally. After all nothing is liked by everyone.

Keep it simple, Keep it fun and keep at it.

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: Chaomonga (May 1, 2008 03:04PM)
First time I ever did a simple trick for my girlfriend I thought I would have an heart attack. I felt the adrenalin, and suddenly it was over and she looked at me, surprised with "her" card in her hand :D I can't even remember my patter, I just did it and somehow it worked. I was shaking. I took her hand and put it onto my chest and she was shocked at how fast my heart was going :D
since then this happend every time I performed for someone (that first time was about two month ago), but it's getting better. I think it's best to do just one trick at first, with short patter and after some time and building up some confidence start to do longer routines. babysteps ;)

it's totally stupid, I know. especially when the spectator is my girlfriend and she knows almost everything about me, good and bad. but it just happens. everyone can get over it. it may take some time, sure. but hey, everything does and everytime I find the card, let the tomato levitate or whatever, I know that it's totally worth all the anxiety.
Message: Posted by: casibb3 (May 3, 2008 11:20PM)
Epithany...Nervousness is part of the "schtick". I remember reading of MANY of the bright stars of the art, noine the least being Blackstone, Sr. and, if you read the life of Cardini, he too had moments of concern prior to "going on".
This nervous reaction only helps to condition you for the performance if handled
with the right disposition.

If working for a large audience, think of them as so many "heads of cabbage" in a cabbage patch. Funny, yes, but can be a great help.

Another piece of advice I have used. Carry a small mirro with your props. Prior to your entry, look into the mirror, state to yourself, "I AM Very Good".
Then make yur appearance.

Hope this will add to advice of others in this post which are also vey good.
Success is what yu make of it! Break a leg.