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Topic: Complete Beginner - Where to start performing?
Message: Posted by: MrHoudini666 (Sep 17, 2010 10:11PM)
I am 21 years old, and have been studying Mentalism for about 3 months.

Although I am a beginner, I would like to start performing simple routines at this point.

I live in Alberta, Canada. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get started? I am a little nervous about doing this at an open mic, because those are usually for musicians...

I would prefer to perform for groups less than 20 people. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!!
Message: Posted by: goatears (Sep 25, 2010 06:12PM)
I have the same question regarding close up!
Message: Posted by: Yehoshua (Oct 7, 2010 05:49AM)
To the both of you, my advice would be to start performing for friends, family...perhaps at family outings like birthdays or holiday parties. Then, once you get a bit more comfortable and confident in your routining and performance, seek out events such as Open Mic nights, and the like. Believe me, the crowd might appreciate the change of pace, and the fact that you'd likely be the only performer in your category should comfort you. Realize this means the crowd won't be comparing you to any other magician or mentalist performing that night, as there won't likely be one. Hope this helps!
Message: Posted by: StephenP (Oct 7, 2010 08:01PM)
It would be neat if there were enough people to have an open mic night for magicians, but that'd be tough to get together. That leaves comedy, poetry, or music open mics. I would think it could fit right in with a comedy open mic if there's one around. But an open mic night of musicians might work out better than you'd think. They used to have comics and/or magic acts opening for concerts, and in an emcee way a mentalist's patter could be perfect to keep the fun going in between acts.
Message: Posted by: Sallymagi (Oct 14, 2010 07:33PM)
I practice on my friends. Where do I Perform?
Message: Posted by: Sock Puppet Monkey (Mar 17, 2011 11:16AM)
Check out Jeff McBride's DVD set Magic at the Edge. In this series he describes who he incorporates magic into his everyday life. This is really what you need to be thinking of. That is, how do you do magic throughout your regular day. Some examples...go to Starbucks then transfer your card back and forth in your hand as you wait to pay and when it's time for the clerk to take the card do a false transfer. This is just one small example of how to do it and it can grow from there. I'm fortunate as a teacher I can take my recess/lunch to break in new routines,practice and connect with students.

Have a fun!

Message: Posted by: MasterGracey (Mar 19, 2011 11:59PM)
This is something I have been thinking about lately, too. I am returning to magic as a hobby after about 15 years of inactivity. I have found that performing for friends and family, especially when trying to smooth out some rough edges, is sometimes difficult because they like to try to "fool" me. For example, I used to do a neat little self-working card trick that required the spectator to pull off a certain number of cards while my back was turned. I did not find it amusing, however, when the spectator also cut the deck while my back was turned. I also do not appreciate having every mistake pointed out, as if my purpose is not to entertain but to dare them to figure out the secret. "I know how you did that" gets old and annoying very quickly. On the other hand, if you have any young relatives (nieces and nephews under the age of 10 are perfect), it can be a lot of fun being the magical uncle. And, they will wear you out asking for another trick before you can wear them out.

I am not involved in any magic clubs right now, but I used to be when I was a teenager. Those were invaluable for learning and performing. I have read a discussion in another thread about the tendency for clubs to be full of arrogant performers and old-timers trying to fool each other, but that was not my experience. The magic club I was in was always a sympathetic and respectful audience, willing to give advice, but only when asked. Best of all, they encouraged the development of a routine and not just doing tricks. If you can find a group like that, then you will always have an opportunity to perform at least once a month.
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Mar 26, 2011 11:22AM)
I would recommend getting back involved with either the IBM or SAM. Both provide invaluable learning experience from both seasoned veterans, and other newbies.

Also, ask lots of questions here. Go to the topic area that specifically deals with your interest (mentalism, close-up, etc). Those folks will be able to steer you from experience.
Message: Posted by: bbarefoot (Jun 23, 2011 08:38AM)
I realize this may be a bit late to the conversation, but for others reading this for advice, I would like to add what I did to gain some experience with my routines when starting out. I was in college when I started getting really serious about performing magic. I found that I had an abundance of free time outside of class in college, so I would take my cards and or a few tricks and go to a public area; dorm lobby, student union, Caféteria, etc. Start with something unusual that grabs attention and someone will inevitably comment on it, and they become an audience.
I actually got invited to parties to do my act for people who saw me doing these impromptu shows or their friend saw me and word of mouth got me a request to perform. My shows were free, but I got into parties and drinks free for my act. This was a great way to get experience doing close up and parlor effects.
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Jul 9, 2011 08:03AM)
A previous poster lamented that while performing for family, they get tired of hearing about the mistakes, etc.

I can understand how you feel. My wife, having spent all of our 27 years together (24 married) has endured my constant "trial runs" on her. She now LOVES to pick apart every move I make.

While this can get annoying...it is actually a GOOD thing. I look at it this way. She understands the concepts of magic, so she knows what to look for. If I can fry HER mind, then it'll definitely fry a layman. So, If I don't fool her, it's not good enough.

How's THAT for finding a silver lining?
Message: Posted by: djurmann (Jul 10, 2011 04:09PM)
OK here how it was for me...

Friends, family and students (I teach). Magic clubs. Airports (doing Charlier cuts and when someone looked interested did some magic (people are bored in airports).

Charity gig (man I made some huge gaffs the first time)....learned a lot though.

My advice? Just get out there and do it. You get caught? So what.

btw there are open mics for magicians.....google open wand.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jul 23, 2011 06:24PM)
Start with performing with young children, every performance is a learning experience and as you learn from your mistakes

Hospitals for young children are the best place to start; it’s what I did and the staff is wonderful and the kids are terrific. No matter how many mistakes you make, you just keep going and they will forget everything; every performance is a learning experience and as you learn you can improve your routine.
Message: Posted by: Tukaram (Jul 24, 2011 01:50PM)
Trying out your tricks on family can depend a lot on your family. My daughter and her boyfriend are great. They watch and participate as if they are interested. Then they let me know if I messed up something - usually angles. My brother and son both think all "magic" tricks are a waste of time. It is either a sleight or a gimmick or who cares. If you need them to have any involvement in the trick they will ensure it get screwed up. Like what MasterGracey was saying. Luckily I have a few friends at work that are great to work with.

I am hoping to get some more practice in and try a local children's hospital on a volunteer basis for some good experience.
Message: Posted by: JackManfred (Jul 24, 2011 08:05PM)
I'm so glad I found this site! Am learning so much... Can't wait to explore this more, it seems to have a lot to offer.
Message: Posted by: EVENTUCATOR (Jul 26, 2011 04:19AM)
Welcome Jack. Roam around, learn then offer something back? ;)

I have perform "Gospel Magic" in classrooms at 'Religious Instruction' to 8 to 10 yrs old.
I find when you make mistakes, admit it - this age group is VERY forgiving, and very appreciative when things go right.
Message: Posted by: spetznaz (Aug 8, 2011 10:07PM)
I usually have a coin or a deck of cards with me on the bus or train. If I get lucky someone asks me to do some magic. It helps to preform for strangers, friends and family "gets used to" your way of preforming, after a while they know that trick you done a million times. To get a great reaction from someone that you don't know gives me more confidence and teaches me more then doing tricks for my friends.
Message: Posted by: Ekuth (Aug 24, 2011 07:36AM)
I too, carry my "kit" with me whenever I leave the house. You never know...

For my part, I'd say just jump out there and do it. Order a coffee at your local barista and just start doing effects. Prowl the mall and surprise passerbys. Levitate something in the middle of Wal-Mart. Liven things up at the DMV.

And have your business cards on hand, always!
Message: Posted by: Magic Midnight (Sep 13, 2011 01:58AM)
I recommend checking with local orphanages, children's hospitals, or elderly homes. You can speak with the event coordinator and will probably be able to perform for him/her. Once they approve your performance, you will have your audience.
Message: Posted by: bluemagic (Sep 17, 2011 11:56PM)
I'm thinking about proforming for goodwill.Here a question ,I read in magic menu that you should have paper or letter that states on why they should hire a magician.So the question is how should I write it?As a Beginner if one day I would like to a pro I must learn what a pro dose.From press kit to interveiw for a job even doing the show for free.What you learn will help you get a pay gig.I do have a contact and think it would be a safe place to start for me.Since they got me my job that I'm working at now.Thank you for any help.I have done magic at a friends magic for people that come.
Message: Posted by: soybntree (Sep 19, 2011 08:20AM)
Friends I'd say then family this will give you confidence to preform in front of people. Then what I did was move to friends of friends and then Children. Children are great as they don't notice any mistakes and are amazed at everything!!
~ Soybntree
Message: Posted by: Lefebure (Sep 19, 2011 04:54PM)
=> Children : they see things adults can't see (your hands is at their heads level !), actually working with them is hard, but they are generous and the light in their eyes after a trick is a real reward !
=> Friends and family : choose 2/3 close relatives or friends (someone you trust) who enjoy your interest into magic and "test" on them every new trick. Look at their reaction, ask them if your speech, your movements were okay. They will critisise you and will help you to progress
=> Talkative people : I mean, people with networks, example bar managers (perform magic with coin, bills when you pay after a drink or a meal), they meet a lot of people and can talk about you and make your reputation grow
=> Café or restaurants customers : with the agreement of the management, it's a good way to perform lot of sorts of magic : stand up magic, cards, mentalism, comedy, sponge ball. That's where you will meet a large panel of different people, with different expectations of magic.
But for a beginner, I would not recommand street magic and parlour with more than 20/30 people.
Message: Posted by: bowers (Oct 23, 2011 09:25PM)
I work in a plant with over two hundred people.
I started performing magic with all my co workers.
sometimes a few and sometimes 20 people would watch me perform.
this helped me get started with performing for a crowd of people.
Message: Posted by: granterg (Nov 22, 2011 11:22AM)
I would recommend public waiting areas. When people are waiting they are bored and can appreciate entertainment. If you are waiting like them then this creates instant rapport because you are both going through the exact same experience, and therefore they will be more susceptible to saying yes to your invitation to watch a magic trick. You will be performing for one person but you will see that a crowd will begin to form around you. This is much easier than going up to a random stranger on the street or even in a Café.

Message: Posted by: Zebaztian (Nov 25, 2011 03:38AM)
Open Mic Nights! The audience cheers up when not another guy with guitar playing 'Hey Joe' gets on the stage. But keep it very short and use a bit of stand up comedy. Two tricks with a joke between them.
Message: Posted by: Zebaztian (Nov 25, 2011 03:52AM)
Most of the times on open mic nights you hear: 'I wrote this song when my girl left me.' Or: 'I wrote this poem when my girl left me.' Do a trick with where a girl leaves you (a card trick with a dissapearing queen, or mental effect with a girl from the audience) saying: 'I made the next trick when my girl left me.' Or something like that.
Message: Posted by: MentalMidget (Dec 5, 2013 01:00AM)
As I practice effects & mini-routines, I tend to make use of some area colleges for gauging responses and working out bugs -- here are a few tips for anyone that might like to try doing the same.


--WHEN to visit a campus--
Mid-afternoon to early evening is your best window of opportunity. The main reason for this is (obviously) because of class schedules. *Most* classes are going to wrap up around 3 or 4 pm. At that point, students have an hour or two to kill before dinner. Immediately after the main 'dinner hour', a lot of students will want to socialize a bit before returning to their dorms & apartments. Either of these periods is a great chance to approach a small group to try a couple of effects. Going too early or too late in the day means you're more likely to encounter students that are in between classes (short on time) or neck deep in homework.

--WHAT TYPE of college to visit--

Tech Schools --
NOT your best option. Most tech schools focus on 'furthering education' programs, very few have on-campus housing, student recreation areas, or any of the other elements that contribute to a good testing ground.

Any "4-year" school --
The main elements you want to look for when trying to find a good campus for practice will be on-campus housing and an active "student center" or "student union". Most students that attend a community college will live off-campus BUT, if the students that live in its dorms make use of student centers, it could be the perfect place to mingle. A college could have tons of dorms and student housing but, for one reason or another, it could be completely deserted whenever classes end. Every college is a little different when it comes to where its students spend their free time... try a couple and find one or two that are well-suited.

--WHERE to go (and not go) to find good participants on a campus--

1. "Student Centers"/"Student Unions" -- GO
Students usually go to these facilities for the purpose of socialization, hanging out with friends, and meeting people. Certainly, some will be studying and working but even those students deliberately chose to do that in an open, public place. All of these things come together to create the perfect atmosphere for approaching a small group, working in one or two effects, and moving on.

2. "Department" or "Program" buildings -- GO
This doesn't apply to every school but many colleges have dedicated "math" or "music" buildings -- some of these have commons, study rooms, student lounges, etc. These are typically less raucous/crowded than the student centers but there will usually be a few people that are there to socialize. As long as the person/group doesn't seem completely preoccupied with work, these are perfect venues for gauging reactions in a calmer environment.

3. Cafés & Caféterias -- DON'T GO
Caféterias: There are a LOT of reasons not to use Caféterias but the biggest one is easily because most people are there to eat (quickly) and leave. Beyond that, the angles are probably going to be terrible (for sleight work), they're usually very loud, sitting/ table space is limited, you often have to pay/ be a student to enter, .... Caféterias are just more trouble than they're worth.

Cafés: While some use cafés as social gathering places, many students will be there (at least nominally) to 'study' or work. A coffee house certainly isn't the worst place to go but... you'll have better odds of finding readily available spectators in more recreational areas.

4. Dorms -- DON'T GO
Some schools have student center-like areas in their dorms but many don't. That being the case, if a college is even remotely concerned about security, dorms tend to require some kind of access or permission to enter. Even if that's not the case, 70% of the students use their dorm as a 'retreat' - a place to relax, do homework, etc. Most social interaction in dorms is more incidental (i.e. bumping into friends in the hall) than deliberate recreation.

--Approaching students--

Tips on approaching strangers are covered in other threads but here are a couple quick thoughts for a college environment.

Focus on small/medium groups -- It's simply easier to step into a conversation that's already in progress than it is to try and start one from stoney silence. Also, a group of friends will be more at ease/comfortable with a stranger walking up than someone whose by themselves -- if your 'audience' is relaxed and comfortable with the situation, you probably will be as well.

Also, focus on people that are obviously goofing off, playing a casual game, or at least TALKING WITH EACH OTHER. Why is that in all caps? If everyone in a group is texting, on Facebook, or otherwise occupied... even if they're not actually working, they're still going to be closed off to the environment. People that are actively interacting with each other, joking around, etc. will already be primed and ready to go for a 'random' conversation with you. If you're going to try a couple of effects in a student center, spend your first few minutes there just getting a feel for the environment and approach the right people -- don't just walk up to the first person you see.

Finally, put some thought into how you're going to introduce yourself/ what you do AND how you're going to make your exit once you're done.
-Be brief, direct, and honest -- Tell them who you are and why you're there.
-Unless you truly just want to see the reaction to a cold run of a specific effect, start with one you know you can do well (preferably one that has a strong visual impact) and then transition to the new one. That will let you get a point of reference for how the group is going to respond, give you your best shot of making a good impression, and let you get comfortable with the situation before you try something that might not go as planned.

That turned into way more of a ramble than I had planned but... hopefully some of that will be helpful to someone looking to find good ways to practice and get comfortable with effects/performance.
Message: Posted by: thementalcoach (Dec 5, 2013 01:47PM)
MentalMidget, those are great tips for colleges, thanks!

I'll add that breakfast times at fast food restaurants can be good (8:30 - 10:30 AM). A lot of seniors/retired meet to talk and socialize and I've discovered if I walk up to one or more and ask them if they can help me by giving me feedback on an experiment I'm working on (mentalism is my thing), usually they are thrilled to do it. Plus I've met lots of really interesting people.

Another thing I do, with wait staff or people around me, is I'll ask girls/women if they consider themselves intuitive (not as effective with guys). If they say yes, then I'll ask them if they'll help me with an experiment and I'm off and running.

Sitting in a coffee shop, playing with a set of ESP cards is a good way to get people to approach you with questions, too!
Message: Posted by: robvh (Dec 28, 2013 10:23PM)
MrHoudini666, where in Alberta are you from? Both Calgary (where I live) and Edmonton have magic clubs and you're welcome to check out your first meeting for free (i.e. without first becoming a member). PM me for more info.
Message: Posted by: Garbo (Mar 20, 2014 01:35PM)
The airport idea is a good one - nearly everyone is bored at an airport!
Message: Posted by: MrThomas (Apr 25, 2014 06:02PM)
[quote]On Dec 5, 2013, thementalcoach wrote:
I'll add that breakfast times at fast food restaurants can be good (8:30 - 10:30 AM). A lot of seniors/retired meet to talk and socialize and I've discovered if I walk up to one or more and ask them if they can help me by giving me feedback on an experiment I'm working on (mentalism is my thing), usually they are thrilled to do it. Plus I've met lots of really interesting people.

Thanks mental coach for this great idea. As I am looking for ways to perform close-up mentalism for my education in this art, I realy appreciated your thoughts on this.
Best, hans
Message: Posted by: Kbuck54 (Apr 25, 2014 06:48PM)
Garbo has a good idea, the airport.
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Apr 28, 2014 02:37AM)
I've had similar problems - and I appreciate all the good advice on this old thread :)

Family can be difficult, especially if they're not really into magic or bored of seeing your tricks.

Work depends upon many things - time, colleagues, space etc. many work places aren't the kind where one can do magic (no time, work alone, etc).

And if, like me, you live in a rural or isolated location ...

But - there's always more places and people to perform in and for than you think. Maybe not as many or as good as you'd like, and maybe not as 'safe' as family or friends, but still enough to learn from. I'm just learning that you need to grab what opportunities you can.

And that means two things: always be prepared (carry your cards and have a ready-to-go trick, or whatever), and be bold. :)
Message: Posted by: D.J. Ayur (Apr 28, 2014 08:03AM)
If they exsist in your area, try the local YMCA or Boys & Girls Club
Message: Posted by: thielo (May 15, 2014 11:26AM)
Hi, performing for family may be good or bad. In the close up area it never happened that anyone of the audience was touching my cards or equipment but in the circle of family it happens. To astonish colleagues is mostly very easy because they are knowing only my "working side" and so they are surprised about my magical skill.
So I try to get better in performing magical tricks for example in performing them towards young people who are members of a theatergroup who meets in our nearer region.
This young people are able to have a very close look to the quality of my performance, give me very fresh and direct responses and they are not so heavy cought from by paradigm thinking.

Greetings Heinz
Message: Posted by: MrJay (May 16, 2014 03:53PM)
What if your wanting to perform for kids what advice do you offer to get started, do you offer birthday parties for free how about houses of worship, hospitals,ect but strickly children
Message: Posted by: DrMidnight (Jun 6, 2014 02:45PM)
I had the same dilemma as I just recently started magic. I have decided to put on a 'parlor show' as part of a Halloween party at my house this October. That gives me plenty of time to get better, practice on my friends, and have a mixture of people who know me well and may not know me at the actual performance.
Message: Posted by: thielo (Jun 7, 2014 04:05AM)
Hi DrMidnicht,
what was your experience during your mixed spectator show?
Message: Posted by: DrMidnight (Jun 7, 2014 06:54PM)

I haven't performed it yet. I'll let you know how it goes!
Message: Posted by: thielo (Jun 8, 2014 06:15AM)
Sorry DrMidnight,

I didn't saw that your show will be in Oktober. What kind of tricks are you going to show. Are there Halloween-typical elements?
Message: Posted by: DrMidnight (Jun 10, 2014 08:47AM)
I don't want to hijack another man's thread, but I'm thinking of maybe a couple of illusions interspersed with card tricks. Houdini's needle trick and Aunt Mary's Terrible Secret to name a few.
Always open to suggestions
Message: Posted by: BitterBrewerAZ (Jun 27, 2014 09:36AM)
To the OP,

While I haven't fully jumped back into performing, I did quite a bit of performing while still being a student when I was 16-18. I would say in the ballpark of 75-100 shows. I started actually performing for people other than my parents and friends when I was 15. My dad was a member of a Kiwanis club and I would attend their monthly meetings and perform a quick 10-15 minutes at the end of the meeting. It was free entertainment for them and it gave me a chance to practice new stuff and get comfortable with old stuff. From there I got in with a local hospital. I would go and do casual walk around stuff from room to room, mostly children but it was still a great experience. Everything up to this point was free, I wasn't making money but I was gaining valuble insight about what worked, what didn't and my confidence was building. After a year of doing this the hospital I would volunteer my time at asked me to perform a childrens Christmas party. I was paid 75 dollars for an hour long show and had done my first gig! I always and still do enjoy doing magic, getting paid to do so is like icing on the cake. I would seek out groups like the Kiwanis and get involved that way. They do a ton of great stuff within most communities and can lead to connections for future jobs.


Message: Posted by: vianns (Aug 2, 2014 01:58PM)
Hi !

I'm new to magic (about 6 months). I started with cards and now I'm looking for a more bizarre magic, since it's less easy to a spectator to think "oh, he's just somebody who knows how to manipulate cards".
So I just ordered some products from LB (0n the Bl00d) and OE (L*n@...) and I'll start with that.

Like I was thinking and like I read here, I planned to play first with family and friends. That's what I did with my first card tricks. When I was playing with cards, I knew my friends and family didn't think at any moment that something could be "magic" in what I did. And that's why I'm moving to bizarre magic: not a lot of magicians are doing it (in France in my case) and for me it seems easier to a spectator to believe in something magic, and not only I have fast fingers and I know how to break a deck in order to produce a card routine.
But... I'm still wondering: is bizarre magic good with friends and family ? They know I don't have any kind of magic power and that I started studying magic a few months ago. With unknown people, I think it might be easier to be trusted as a magician, and not only as the "good friend/son who like to play with gaffed props".

I don't know if you will understand what I'm thinking about, since English is not my native language. Thank you for any answer you could write.
Message: Posted by: Nestor D (Aug 4, 2014 11:59AM)
Children are wonderfull : you need to explain things in a clear and straightforward way to them, they accept your mistakes, points at any discrepancy and love whatever you have to offer :)

The golden rules seems to be : grab every opportunities you can get but do NOT force your magic on peoples (they will not like it -> no entertainment).

vianns :

Your family won't consider you a bizarist (unless you prove it with frequent solid demonstrations) but "Bizarre objects" work quitte well on family : strange things you just found somewhere (give them an history !) that have strange powers... if the power is not in you but in the object, it is more easily accepted (a wonderfull upgrade from card magic to bizarre magic is tarot card : a bit of cold reading, card magic and an inbuild bizarre element that get peoples reacting as soon as they see the cards).

Message: Posted by: vianns (Aug 6, 2014 05:34PM)
Nestor: merci ! :) I think that's why I want to go to bizarre magic. It will be easier for me, a beginner in magic, to make this kind of magic accepted by others, friends and family especially. I hope I'll manage to build solid stories about my props !
Message: Posted by: Thorn (Oct 11, 2014 07:34PM)
I have to agree the airport idea does sound like a awesome place to practice . I will have to remember to add it to my list of areas to practice at . I usually practice at malls or libraries for small groups . Always remember to smile and be friendly .
Message: Posted by: Mysteryos (Oct 23, 2014 08:08AM)
Some more places to consider:
- The Tram/Train (Awesome to watch the reactions of doing a simple one handed cut and then showing them some magic)
- Schools/Kindergarden - I startet with performing sponge ball routines for kids and card magic. It's the best Motivation ever to practise when kids are screaming at you cause you did a simple coin palming. Kids are so thankful and will love you for showing them any kind of magic tricks.
- Family events or little parties, when you are host or guest, when presented entertaining everybody loves magic ;)
- Just going around in parks, at cityspots, playing with cards will make people stop you and ask what you're doing. And you're in!
Message: Posted by: BeThePlunk (Oct 24, 2014 08:58AM)
After practicing on my wife, I began showing tricks to local children, usually with the parents nearby. For me it was a win-win-win. I got to practice on a non-critical audience. The kids were pleased. Best of all -- though I don't point this out -- the parents watch from the background with a mixed perspective (1) they enjoy seeing the children entertained, (2) if they catch the trick, then they expected to be sharper than their kids anyhow, they're in on the secret with me, and I can toss a knowing wink at them, but (3) if I completely fry 'em, they aren't on the spot tp admit it. I note the parents' reactions in my peripheral vision, because my goal is really to test myself in front of them, and the kids are just my cover.
Message: Posted by: peacegroovy (Nov 17, 2014 07:55PM)
I started off performing for children at a local volunteer center! It was a wonderful experience and children are easily entertained, thus giving you that extra boost of confidence that you need to succeed!
Message: Posted by: Mike Gilbert (Nov 20, 2014 07:04AM)
I'm getting ready to start putting a couple of routines together so I can start performing as well. My thoughts were to tap into all fo my friends with kids to start. Offer to do birthday parties for free to get exposure and experience. Anyone else that shows up to those parties are fair game to charge down the road if they like your act. Have business cards on hand, and be ready to network! Also make it known that you do more than kids' shows (if this truly is the case) in case you're approached for some adult venues (Christmas parties, BBQs, socials, etc).
Message: Posted by: Mike Gilbert (Nov 21, 2014 05:34AM)
Also, to viann, although I hardly think there is anything wrong with focusing on bizzare magic as a specialty, think about this on grander, more general scale. Don't rely on bizarre magic because you think it will be easier for people to buy into. If you go into it with this frame of mind, you will never be convincing. Instead, focus on practice and rehearsal of all of your effects, routining, patter, psychology etc. This goes for any routine and any genre of magic (or performing in general!). If you aren't convinced, neither is your crowd. Take the time to become technically AND tactically proficient in your craft; be it cards, coins, mentalism, etc. Own it! 99.9% of people don't believe you are magical (have magic powers), and, with few exceptions, you shouldn't try to pass yourself off as such. They are there to be entertained. So entertain them! It's the quality of the entertainment you provide that invokes that magical sensation. Cheers!
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (May 19, 2016 07:46AM)
[quote]On Apr 28, 2014, Terrible Wizard wrote:
I've had similar problems - and I appreciate all the good advice on this old thread :)

Family can be difficult, especially if they're not really into magic or bored of seeing your tricks.

Work depends upon many things - time, colleagues, space etc. many work places aren't the kind where one can do magic (no time, work alone, etc).

And if, like me, you live in a rural or isolated location ...

But - there's always more places and people to perform in and for than you think. Maybe not as many or as good as you'd like, and maybe not as 'safe' as family or friends, but still enough to learn from. I'm just learning that you need to grab what opportunities you can.

And that means two things: always be prepared (carry your cards and have a ready-to-go trick, or whatever), and be bold. :) [/quote]

YES this is an old thread but still a good topic of conversation.
Thank you terrible wizard for the last couple of lines here about being prepared even when you are not sure before hand you will have a moment to perform.
I think this will get me a few more performances, but I am still looking for the GOLDEN VENUE, so to speak. A place where I can get a small group together, do some close up. maybe 15mins or so...end that segment...get another small group do the same story/effects......
repetitive practice!!!!

So some people have talked about AIRPORTS they are very very wrong.... airports are very high security areas now!
to get to the places where people are sitting around waiting and bored are passed all the check points,security and body scans....you can not just walk in like you used to before 911... especially with "magic" items and these posts are from 2014....I think this is very quick way to being on a government watch list.

Has anyone been to a coffee house like a "starbucks" and approached people? If so what was the experience like? How would you approach?
Also we have a lot of these little festivals here in New England so to rent a table would only cost me 30bucks and I could get that scenario of being able to perform over and over for a different group. I can control number of seats and where they sit and would get a diverse audience over the course of a day. I can take breaks when I want. If I had a table at a venue like this what would my sign say?? how would I attract people over?
Local open Mic night??? but is that going to work well with close up?
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (May 19, 2016 08:37AM)
Thanks, and you're welcome :)

"I am still looking for the GOLDEN VENUE, so to speak. A place where I can get a small group together, do some close up. maybe 15mins or so...end that segment...get another small group do the same story/effects......
repetitive practice!!!"

I too would love such a thing. Keep searching! :)
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (May 19, 2016 11:13AM)
I have given some thought to this and basically those 3 options I listed above seem like the most likely, but I still have some reservations about doing them.
I have been able to perform a work but that is very rare do all the reasons you listed above also.
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (May 19, 2016 11:15AM)
There is also a local ring of the IBM but the drive is about 40-50 mins....I have not been ... some groups really do not focus on practice and going over routines and script but more just a social gathering.
Message: Posted by: B.W. McCarron (Jul 28, 2016 09:40AM)
If you perform your new routine before the local Ring, that can also count as your initiation performance, if you arrange it in advance with one of the Ring members. Complete the membership application, pay the fee, then take advantage of this opportunity to solicit constructive feedback from those who witnessed your performance.

You may be familiar with the adage: "Praise in public, correct in private." Obtain advice from the Ring members individually as you meet them. The alternative is to perform, then open it up to a group critique session. You'll need broad shoulders to keep from feeling "dumped on"; the one-on-one comments method may be best for you.

Through osmosis you will be rewarded with seeing others perform. While this is not a license to steal, you may discover that a particular effect would also be worthwhile to add to your routine. Of course you will adjust your story line to fit your style of performance and not borrow from the patter used by other performers.

Be sure to make the most of each performance by having photos taken. More tips are available here:

Best of luck!

- Brett
Message: Posted by: fab1an (Aug 2, 2016 06:58AM)
I am quite new to magic, too!
Most of the time I perform for my family and friends, sometimes for friends of my friends or family!
This has led to me becoming way more confident in my performance.

hope this helps!
Message: Posted by: The Duster (Sep 8, 2016 02:13AM)
I do it for family and friends - but make sure it's only a few mins - and new tricks everytime

So a lot of prep for one off 'shows'
Message: Posted by: Foole4Hire (Sep 10, 2016 07:12AM)
If there is a magic club near you, participate there. If not, consider starting something yourself. If there aren't enough magician's nearby, theatre groups, improvising, would-be comedians, and other variety artists may be looking for a venue.

Open mics are cool BUT they tend to have a 3-5 minute maximum. That's not always useful to a magician. However, it is a great way to get better.

Seniors centers always need free or cheap entertainment. Just do some research on the demographic.

Talent shows and magic competitions and other such things give your practice focus and provide you with direct feedback.

Finally and most importantly, if your goal is magic as a hobby, performing for friends and family is just fine as is impromptu performing for strangers in public. If your aim is to get paid to perform, use friends and family for rehearsal and practice and ALWAYS arrange to perform in public in advance. ALWAYS trade your performance for something (advertising -- even if it's just taking video of the show in front of audience or the chance for a paying client to see you in action -- a letter of reference, goods, services, money, tax receipt, etc.). Charities are always looking for performers but get them to do something for you that's useful to you. Once you are established as a professional you can decide when and where you perform gratis.

I'm Roger and I am a suitcase magician
3 decades and 150 shoes per year and still practicing
Message: Posted by: Foole4Hire (Sep 10, 2016 07:15AM)
Autocorrect wanted me to do shoes and not shows.

PS if you approach any open mic (including jams) with magic, they'll likely welcome the variety or at least support a performer in her development.
Message: Posted by: joshuaweidner (Sep 12, 2016 09:28PM)
Jamie D. Grant's book "The Approach" is a great resource for this and pretty much every other issue you will run into as a new performer. He pretty much takes you from beginner to pro and I couldn't recommend it highly enough. It's available from his website and probably most magic dealers for about $75.
Message: Posted by: Adir (Sep 18, 2016 05:49PM)
After reading all the comment about messing with cards or coins on a college campus, I figured I'd try it out at my college.
Unfortunately I've yet to have any luck. Iv'e tried in the Caféteria, an empty lecture hall waiting for class to start (half an hour before hand- there were lots of people there), and sitting in a popular hangout hallway with lots of people around.

It's almost as if all the other students are too busy looking at their phones, or laptops, or videochatting (or occasionally studying....occasionally).
Has anyone else ever encountered this problem? I don't think the issue here is that what I'm doing isn't eye catching. In the past, when siblings had friends over, or when a relative or someone from the neighborhood stopped by, they would always react even if only with a change in facial expression, even if they don't know me well and I wasn't using the most attention drawing flourishes or oddities.
Message: Posted by: Coolmanclyde (Oct 17, 2016 12:53AM)
Great topic/thread gotta keep it alive.

Does anyone else have review on grants book the approach?

Lastly, I am in the same boat. Developing routines,leaning new tricks, figuring out my style. I have been practicing on family and children. But I need to go out in public. Trying to decide if senior home or children's environment would be better. I can't decide which environment or age range would be better. Seems like a senior home would have a better arrangement/possibility for larger group show? Or would a hospital with more private performances be better?

Someone mentioned goodwill- I wonder what the setting would entail for that choice?
Message: Posted by: LeoH (Jan 21, 2018 10:05AM)
If you are following the route of children's entertainment, an avenue to pursue would be the local elementary school. Most kindergarten classes have an end of the year party and having a magician perform for their celebration would be a special treat. This would five a great opportunity to perform for a live audience and break in new tricks.

Performing for senior adult facilities can be problematic. My dad was in a very controlled environment due to Alzheimer's. Though my heart goes out to the patients in these facilities, I would not recommend performing there.

I would recommend the assisted living facilities. In these facilities the residents are not severely physically or mentally challenged and are very receptive to live entertainment.
Message: Posted by: rboyd (Jan 29, 2018 12:59PM)
Bumping this thread to see if anyone has a review of the approach, very interested in this but a expensive purchase of its not that good.
Message: Posted by: 0pus (Jan 29, 2018 02:53PM)
Why don't you try here:


or here:

Message: Posted by: rboyd (Jan 29, 2018 05:19PM)
Thanks Opus. Should really use search a bit more 😮
Message: Posted by: paulalpha (Feb 11, 2018 09:07PM)
I'm relatively new to serious magic, but I've found many practice opportunities at big box stores and at smaller convenience stores. If performing for the clerk, I wait until there is no one else in line. At the big box stores, or 24 hour supermarkets, it is fairly easy to find someone stocking shelves etc. You'll be surprised at how often they will thank you for showing them a trick. It can be the highlight of their day.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Mar 9, 2018 11:48AM)
I was directed to this thread by someone via PM. In another forum, I have provided some information on just this topic - where to get initial performing experience and start performing. Many have found this helpful. If interested, check it out here: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=661200&forum=41
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Mar 12, 2018 06:06PM)
One avenue which should not be overlooked is working for other magicians for free. From my teens through my twenties several magicians mentored me. Helping a polished magician set up their show is a quick way to learn stagecraft. Acting as an on-stage assistant you get to learn presence and timing. As you progress you might even be invited to do warm up magic or do an act on stage. And once you gain their total confidence, they may even start passing shows to you when they have a scheduling conflict or the client cant afford their fee. One even taught me to do basic balloon work then other magicians would hire me on to do balloon sculpting when their clients requested it.

I also was hired on at a magic shop which gave me a lot of grounding in streamlining routines. When selling magic to the general public you should only use the most basic skills necessary for the effect so the buyer gets a realistic view of what they could reasonably achieve. This hammers the basics of performing. And again, once you gain their confidence, they may start sending shows your way (when searching for a magician people will often call the local magic or costume shop).

Also, the two IBM Rings I have been involved with have held charity shows featuring local talent. This is a great opportunity for new magicians to gain exposure on a big stage.

I guess my meandering point is don't be afraid to offer your assistance to established magicians. Many may be happy to help you learn the ropes and get gigs. If you have a ancillary skill that can help them improve their offering; balloon sculpting, face painting, A/V, etc all the better.
Message: Posted by: alan1954 (Apr 12, 2018 02:27PM)
The comments regarding Jeff McBride are very sound. Look for opportunities to perform where you are during the day. At the library, at the store, in line at the movies, etc.