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Topic: Rehearse till you're blue in the face, then flop.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jul 16, 2011 10:12PM)
I just need to vent. I recently did a show, in which I was asked to MC and do magic between acts.

It was a concert on a huge out door stage.

Several singers and bands were involved and I was to introduce each act as MC and perform a few minutes of magic.

I had months between the gig to practice and rehearse, and so I did. I literally practiced till I could do each effect in my sleep. I was no slacker!

The problem was, I wasn't given a set length of time to be onstage. I was of course to fill in between each act, BUT I was also told that if there were some slow spots, I would need to keep things going by entertaining while they got things straightened up. That was horrible! Not knowing exactly how long you need to be on stage, or how much material you will need to fill in if anything goes wrong! It was crazy! I opted for rehearsing WAY more than I could possibly need, so as to be on the safe side. I had a good 14, 15 effects ready to go. And I held it all in my briefcase, since lately I've been going with packs small, plays big. (Actually I filled up two briefcases.)

So come performance day, I get there and it starts about 6:30 in the evening. I looked out from the stage, and there were bleachers on the grass a good forty feet away. That did not bode well.

As performance time drew near, crowds started to filter in. Only problem was, they sat dispersed on the grass, some on the bleachers, and in separate, disparate little groups. Some as many as thirty, forty feet away.

And they were off to the sides everywhere..and milling about. it was a magicians worst nightmare.

Several of the effects that I had so faithfully rehearsed were immediately dismissed in my mind because of angles.

I got up there and I gave it my best shot. But because of the dispersal of the crowd and the distance, I couldn't even make eye contact. It was like playing to empty air. Or to a bunch of ghosts. Getting volunteers to come up was out of the question.

My performance went over "fair" at best. All my diligent rehearsal time was UNREALISTIC, because you can't nail a crowd if they can't see you, or if you can't see them. I lacked that VITAL element of being able to communicate with them through eye contact.

It was very frustrating and very disheartening.

What could I have dome better? Any suggestions? I would appreciate feedback.

Maybe the only thing that works in that kind of environment is larger illusions???

It got to the point where the guy in charge came up to me after two or three effects and said "Man your magic is not cutting it. Do some of your cartoon voice impersonations." (Which I do quite well, btw)

But it kills you inside when they tell you that (in so many words) your magic sucks. (When you know with all your heart that you have spent weeks practicing and rehearsing till you're blue in the face. And you not only rehearsed, but you rehearsed the very best effects that you own.

I swear that if I had performed these same effects in a building with a closer, POLARIZED audience, I would have slayed them. But this was the pits.
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Jul 30, 2011 12:17PM)
Doug, Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.

We have all had gigs where the audience was not where, what or who we expected and things went less than well.

You sound conscientious and as well prepared as you could be. I think the reason no one has responded is that we can't offer advice here. Most of us know you can't win 'em all.

I guess my best advice (and this was given to me by my partner) is, try to think of what questions on the phone may have helped you to correctly characterize the event so you could either do better, turn it down or pass it on.

Don't let it get you down. Your Magic didn't suck, it didn't fit the venue. At least you had material to fall back on.

_Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jul 31, 2011 10:08PM)
Thanks Mary!

I'm taking comfort from your reply.

Actually, phone questions would not have helped. I know because I took the time to ask them. The guy in charge had no idea how the audience would be milling around either. It was unforeseeable. I had even went to the venue ahead of time to check the stage out, but even then, with no crowd there, it was impossible for me to foresee what things would look like when the crowd actually arrived.

In short, it was an impossible situation. The worse any body could have dreamed up in their worst nightmares. And as Murphy's law would have it, good ol' Doug ended up right in the middle of it.
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Aug 1, 2011 02:23AM)
Well there you have it. Chalk it up to a bad day and remember it (if you must) in Black and white very far away with the sound down low as the NLP crowd suggests.

-Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Aug 1, 2011 08:13AM)
Yeah, I remember Tony Robbins teaching that technique!
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Apr 16, 2012 07:42PM)
I feel for you Doug, we all go through that. Like Mary said, it did not fit the venue. Heck I got booed not long ago, its a long story but the late hour and open bar did not help. It did have a silver lining like all bad days do. Im sure you are already through it.

Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (Jun 18, 2012 03:11PM)
Try to imagine being an MC in a strip club with the ladies dancing every thirty to forty-five minutes, doing one-liners and an occasional trick to an audience of drunk and disorderly service men who want to see the girls and don't want to see you from 7PM to 2AM for two weeks straight, with only Mondays off. Thank you very much, mucho grass. Been there, done that, now what is your story?