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Topic: First busking experience
Message: Posted by: Chad C. (Feb 28, 2004 10:24PM)
Hi all,
I went to a local flea market and set up in the commons area. I did four effects, which I changed out with a few others for about a 10-12 minute show. I performed an invisible deck routine, a change bag with silks routine, then cup and balls followed by sponge balls. They got good reactions from both kids and adults-although I am already making mental changes to the routines and the effects performed.

Anyway, I was there for a little over 4 hours and made a modest $45, but for my first time I was quite pleased. Thanks for all the advice and tips. I learned a lot about how to keep a crowd and how important letting them know about tipping is and so forth. I think the biggest thing I need to work on right now is keeping people there after one trick is over and the next begins-I noticed some people would leave during the applause from a previous trick.

Chad C.

ps. By the way, the crowds were an average of about 25-30 people at a time.
Message: Posted by: RobertBloor (Feb 28, 2004 11:59PM)
Hey Chad,

Well done mate. Can I ask why you're closing on Cups and THEN doing sponge balls?

Seems like it might be anti-climactic.
What's your load sequence?

Robert Bloor
Message: Posted by: bunkyhenry (Feb 29, 2004 07:56AM)
If they are leaving after the first trick, I would get another first trick...one that makes them want to stay and see more.
Message: Posted by: RobertBloor (Feb 29, 2004 09:52AM)
CHad C,

One of the things you can do is stop them from applauding.

When they begin to applaud yell out, "No no no! You'll want to save that for the most amazing thing you'll ever see. The big finale is just a moment away."

That tells them a few things:
First, when you're done with your finale you want huge applause.
Also, those that might leave, now know there is something more exciting ahead.

And when all else fails, as you move on quickly to your next effect, single them out if they leave.

Robert Bloor
Message: Posted by: Mr Amazeo (Feb 29, 2004 09:54AM)
I agree with RobertBloor, cups and balls should be your closer. Sponge balls is a good interactive effect that can get someone from the audience involved, an than lead into your close.

Great job for your first day out! Lot's of fun, isn't it?
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Feb 29, 2004 12:23PM)
Well done Chad! The first time I went out, I got a lousy $3 for my first set.

Thankfully, I have since learned a lot from this forum, the Celini tapes, the Gazzo tapes, thought about and refined my routine, had lots more practice and a whole lot more shows under my belt, and I am doing WAY better now.

Unlike most others here, I close with a very strong 3 Ring routine, but the key is keeping the best till last, and that way you go straight from the climax to the tip! Folks are a lot more generous right after they are "wowed", than they are when they were just entertained.

But the hardest one of all was the first. Congratulations for getting that one out of way.

Message: Posted by: Chad C. (Feb 29, 2004 03:00PM)
Thanks everyone,
I am taking all comments into account as I plan changes and revisions to the show. BroDavid, I also have started working on a three ring routine, which has gotten good reactions, and I used it a number of times yesterday as well.

My cup and balls routine is a basic one that was inspired by the Mark Wilson book-it gets a good reaction, but the best reaction I got yesterday was from by invisible deck routine-people would stop and watch and you could feel the anticipation as I interacted with the volunteers and audience.

By the way, my cup and balls routine has two blue sponge balls and a yellow one for the final loads (the big supersoft ones). I did it this way because that's the way I do it in my children's shows-I haven't yet gotten any busking videos to see other c&b routines.

That trick was what I used to close a number of the shows and it brought in the most tips. But the order was changed as I experimented with what was working well and what wasn't.

Overall, like BroDavid, the first one is over and now I can improve from there.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 29, 2004 04:18PM)

Did you have to rent the space you had at the flea market?
Message: Posted by: Chad C. (Feb 29, 2004 08:01PM)
No, it wasn't an actual booth area, it was a space where people usually just stand around and eat or rest. They didn't make me rent it b/c I presented myself as free entertainment that was providing a magical experience for their customers. Therefore, they didn't charge me as long as I didn't sell anything.

It was a great experience and I had a large number of people take my business card in between shows and ask about b-day parties. I hope to be able to do this more often now that I've got my feet wet.

It also gave me some experience with my new pa system from florida magic, which worked wonderfully with absolutely no feedback problems. I was very pleased with it and it helped to be heard over all the other distractions.

Message: Posted by: Mario Morris (Feb 29, 2004 09:11PM)
Great Chad when I first went out I got torn apart. Keep on keeping on.
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (Mar 1, 2004 06:39PM)
I don't really think the first effect matters all that much really....i think its you that makes them stay or leave...what are you saying to them..is it entertaining....its not all that much about the magic...make them laugh...they will stay...that if they have time....and if they don't stay remember, it might not be your fault....congrats on the beginning to this great journey....trust me....it takes courage to do what you did...now go out and do it tomorrow and everyday from now on and you will kick ass!...

Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Mar 2, 2004 12:47AM)
I want to add my congratulations. You did great for your first time out. A lot better than me! May I ask, what was your best single hat? And can you think of anything different about that show that was different than the others to cause it to be your best hat? Either something you did or something else?
Also, what were you doing to draw your initial few people? Thanks.


PS: sounds like you've found a good pitch.
Message: Posted by: Chad C. (Mar 2, 2004 06:40AM)
I'm not sure what the best single hat was, as many people would come up during tricks and put a dollar in and then leave. But I would say about 10 dollars was my highest at one time give or take a dollar or two. The best tips came when I started closing with my invisible deck routine, which I think people found the most entertaining.

I drew my first few people by having one or two people do some card tricks and as I did them other people would stop and see what was going on. My pa system also helped out a lot as people could hear something going on before they got there. After I got 5 or 6 people I would usually do red hot mama and then go into my 3 main effects because I usually had a crowd after that.

tedb-thanks for the words of wisdom and encouragement

Message: Posted by: RobertBloor (Mar 7, 2004 02:17PM)

Mate, we make a point as you read most any busking thread to close with Cups and Balls.

There's a good reason we do: It works...for us.

If finishing on an Invisible Deck routine brings great reaction and gets good hats mate - GO FOR IT!

You'll find that busking roughly translates in English to: "Do whatever works".

I'm glad you're experimenting with new ideas for your programs and changing closers around. Eventually you'll find a sequenece that works well most of the time and you'll build on that.

Cheers mate!

Robert Bloor

PS: Anything the great and wonderous kozmo (tedb) has to say is well worth taking good notes on!
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 7, 2004 05:13PM)
Ted is right about the order of the tricks. The first thing you have to do is to get a crowd. Then you have to control them. But they need not know that you are controlling them. They almost have to think that their behavior and so forth is voluntary.

Busking is one of those forms of entertainment in which a flash opener is not a good idea. If you do a flash opener to a crowd that hasn't gathered, you have wasted material. A flash "second item" may not be a bad idea, though.

The first busking I did was at the Texas Renaissance Festival the first year it was open. I stood beneath a big tree and as the people left the Lamb's Players theater, I went into my crowd gathering pitch. I used the turnover key. I had a spiel that lasted a couple of minutes. At the end of the spiel, the key turned over by itself. Then I went into the rest of the routine. I ended with Cleve's "Miracle of the Little Orange Mouse," which I used as a balloon animal pitch. I sold them for a quarter. That was back in 1975, so it wasn't unreasonable. I did okay with that, but I didn't have enough confidence in myself to do a regular hat pass at the time.

The next year, I decided that I would not sell balloon animals, since they weren't proper for the period. So I made up a scroll of spells. I sold these the first weekend. The second weekend, I forgot to bring them, so I did a regular hat pass, and cleaned up like mad. I never sold any more scrolls after that. I just needed to get my confidence up.

Now I am a real confidence man. ;)
Message: Posted by: Popo (Mar 7, 2004 06:25PM)
Great job Chad! The first one always seems to be the hardest. Here's hoping you have much success and let us know how the bookings come in from the marketing you did!
Message: Posted by: Chad C. (Mar 8, 2004 07:02AM)
Thanks for the advice everyone. I just had my second busking experience this past friday at a festival they have once a month downtown. There are various activities and vendors out on the streets-I was able to set up outside of a guy's shop on broad street.

I ended up making almost $90 in about 4 hours, and I could have stayed and made even more, but it was getting late. I learned a lot from this experience-I made sure to announce how many tricks were left and how each would be better than the last-doing it that way stopped people from leaving early. I also made sure to mention that I would be passing the hat at the end of the show (usually I reminded them b/n each trick). At the end I accepted my applause and stated that it is by their generosity that I am able to make their day a little more magical. Very few people left without leaving a tip-most people left a dollar, but some left two and a few left three.

I didn't change the routines quite as many times this time, I mostly used d-lites to get a crowd, then went into my main tricks. I used a card stab (where the spectator puts a minature sword into the deck and finds there chosen card). It was foolproof as I used a Svengali deck. Then I did a few more small miracles with there chosen card. I then used cup and balls, sponge balls and linking rings. I also used a tt and silks a few times. But the main tricks were c&b, Svengali, sponges, and the linking rings.

I also used my invisible deck routine, which worked well again. All the tricks got a great response and I can't wait till next month when I can do it again-of course I'll do the flea market much sooner.

I have already had people approach me about working at some clubs and doing a 10 minute opening act for some bands and of course birthday parties-which is what I do most.

Have a great day everyone and thanks again.
Message: Posted by: bunkyhenry (Mar 8, 2004 07:27AM)
On 2004-02-29 10:52, RobertBloor wrote:
CHad C,

One of the things you can do is stop them from applauding.

When they begin to applaud yell out, "No no no! You'll want to save that for the most amazing thing you'll ever see. THe big finale is just a moment away."

That tells them a few things:
First, when you're done with your finale you want huge applause.
Also, those that might leave, now know there is something more exciting ahead.

And when all else fails, as you move on quickly to your next effect, single them out if they leave.

I love that!
Message: Posted by: RobertBloor (Mar 8, 2004 08:34AM)

Cheers! But I didn't actually come up with that. I learned from watching Gazzo.

As for singling them out - there are lots of ways you can do it.
If you're Gazzo you could insult the snot out of them.
If you're anyone else, there a few dozen lines available that work well.

You just have to read your crowd and make sure they're with you when you start slinging at those leaving.

My favorite (and well used) line is, "Hey! We didn't leave when you got here!"

Cheers and go nuts.

Robert Bloor
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 8, 2004 07:59PM)
Robert, the consummate street entertainer is right. Let me amplify upon one thing he brings up:

You just have to read your crowd and make sure they're with you when you start slinging at those leaving.

Nobody will tip someone who makes them angry. You can't make everyone happy, but you can make most of them happy. That's your job. You have to get them on your side. Then you have to make them LOVE you. Then you have to make them want to pay you.

If you "sling" at them when they aren't on your side, they will leave.

Several years ago, when I was working in a comedy club, the opening act was told that if the crowd got too rough for her, she was to cut her act short and bring me out, because I knew how to handle that particular crowd. She mistakenly thought the manager meant that I was going to use rough heckle stoppers on them. That is not my method at all. So she smelled the room up. Then I had to clean up after her. I did it by making the guys who were being rough on her feel welcome and important. At the end of my set, I got a standing ovation. Not bad for a middle act who is a magician, eh!

I wish I had been passing the hat that night.

Make them love you. Then they will tip you.
Message: Posted by: RobertBloor (Mar 8, 2004 11:49PM)

You bring up an excellent method of dealing with hecklers....

Some guys (and girls) want to be the center of attention. To an extent, let them.

Never make it you vs. the audience. YOU will lose.

Man, I haven't been busking since last fall. I really miss it. Maybe now that it's getting warmer in New Mexico... :)

Robert Bloor
Message: Posted by: kid iowa (Mar 9, 2004 06:58AM)
Robert, you should try the Spring Crawl downtown, if it already hasn't happened. Tons and tons of people, but you have to battle the drunks and bands.
Message: Posted by: RobertBloor (Mar 9, 2004 08:39AM)

I've got 4 or 5 options I'm looking at right now. I'd love to get back out and do it again. :)

Robert Bloor

Drunks and bands? Hmmm...sounds like New Orleans.