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Topic: What advise would you give yourself as a "new" Walk-Around Performer
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jun 9, 2021 11:01AM)
Hello All:

First, I appreciate the wisdom in this forum! So many good ideas and thoughts and opinions - overall people are very helpful and I appreciate that.

I wonder, if you had the opportunity to give your "younger self" advice on beginning to work as a close-up performer, what advice would you give? Whether it's for parties, weddings, bars, or other venues, I suspect there are some real gems that you might have (even if it's totally obvious like "don't do Ambitious Card to the drunk guy at the end of the bar"), I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Thanks again to everyone! I appreciate your input!

James
Message: Posted by: RNK (Jun 9, 2021 12:42PM)
Hello James,

First bit of advice I would say would be to perform only routines that you are very comfortable performing. I would perform one or two effects that are close to self working allowing you to concentrate on your presentation. Because most likely you will be a either a lot nervous or possibly a little nervous, regardless those nerves will cause a few hiccups early in your live performing adventures. I would keep your set to 3 or 4 tricks and not plan to switch them out during your performance- get used to yourself as a performer. Contrary to what some of the trolls here say (that performing is about fooling your audience) nothing can be further from the truth. Your audiences main critic of you will be if they had fun or not. It will not be if your magic was super fooling or not, that will be secondary. Yes, you need to be prepared and fooling but who you are as a person in being able to generate smiles and laughs goes a lot further. Also, using the same tricks over and over will allow you to understand yourself better and figure out what works for you i.e. pauses after a magical moment allowing your audience to react and/or laugh to the moment before rushing on to the next phase or trick.

When those hiccups happen don't be afraid to be human and laugh at yourself. People will respect you more for not trying to act like you are above them because you can perform magic. So many performers have an arrogance about them which will not allow an audience to be fully engaged with them. I always throw out a line or two during some of my routines and say, "Now, I am going to TRY and make this happen and I say try because I am not perfect and if my wife was here she would be telling you the same thing". Just as an example...

I have found myself always coming back to effects that I have overly mastered because when I perform them for an audience I am able to be more myself and generate a lot of impromptu reactions to the audiences reactions. So that's why I say be very very confident in the 3-4 tricks you plan to perform for your first set. Unfortunately you will not be satisfying to everybody you perform for during these introductory performances, there is no special formula to speed up the process. You just have to keep performing and longer you do it the more you will discover what works for you as a person. The only thing you can control is your knowledge and confidence in the tricks you choose to perform.

I would try and perform an effect while out grocery shopping, maybe while checking out for the clerk or for a random person in the store. I do that sometimes with new effects to test the waters before adding them to a set. For you, this will help you become less shy and more confident as a person for your first gig not to mention helping you with your delivery (presentation) of the trick. You will find, like everything in life, the more you do it the more confident you will become and the more you will discover that being yourself during performing will make you more likable to your audience.

Just a few thoughts, I hope they help!


RNK
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 9, 2021 12:48PM)
I'd give none. Reason? Every mistake and every experience helps one learn. You can advice yourself right out of that.

No thanks.
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jun 9, 2021 03:01PM)
[quote]On Jun 9, 2021, RNK wrote:
Hello James,

First bit of advice I would say would be to perform only routines that you are very comfortable performing. I would perform one or two effects that are close to self working allowing you to concentrate on your presentation. Because most likely you will be a either a lot nervous or possibly a little nervous, regardless those nerves will cause a few hiccups early in your live performing adventures. I would keep your set to 3 or 4 tricks and not plan to switch them out during your performance- get used to yourself as a performer. Contrary to what some of the trolls here say (that performing is about fooling your audience) nothing can be further from the truth. Your audiences main critic of you will be if they had fun or not. It will not be if your magic was super fooling or not, that will be secondary. Yes, you need to be prepared and fooling but who you are as a person in being able to generate smiles and laughs goes a lot further. Also, using the same tricks over and over will allow you to understand yourself better and figure out what works for you i.e. pauses after a magical moment allowing your audience to react and/or laugh to the moment before rushing on to the next phase or trick.

When those hiccups happen don't be afraid to be human and laugh at yourself. People will respect you more for not trying to act like you are above them because you can perform magic. So many performers have an arrogance about them which will not allow an audience to be fully engaged with them. I always throw out a line or two during some of my routines and say, "Now, I am going to TRY and make this happen and I say try because I am not perfect and if my wife was here she would be telling you the same thing". Just as an example...

I have found myself always coming back to effects that I have overly mastered because when I perform them for an audience I am able to be more myself and generate a lot of impromptu reactions to the audiences reactions. So that's why I say be very very confident in the 3-4 tricks you plan to perform for your first set. Unfortunately you will not be satisfying to everybody you perform for during these introductory performances, there is no special formula to speed up the process. You just have to keep performing and longer you do it the more you will discover what works for you as a person. The only thing you can control is your knowledge and confidence in the tricks you choose to perform.

I would try and perform an effect while out grocery shopping, maybe while checking out for the clerk or for a random person in the store. I do that sometimes with new effects to test the waters before adding them to a set. For you, this will help you become less shy and more confident as a person for your first gig not to mention helping you with your delivery (presentation) of the trick. You will find, like everything in life, the more you do it the more confident you will become and the more you will discover that being yourself during performing will make you more likable to your audience.

Just a few thoughts, I hope they help!


RNK [/quote]

Some great advice here! Thank you very much!

For some background, I've been performing on and off since I was 13 which is just under 38 years ago - that said I've had much more "off" time than "on" but have recently picked back up again. My wife and I do karaoke and I am a very outgoing person so finding my "performing personality" is/was super easy as I just be myself :) I have been "doing magic" for the karaoke crowd for several months now (gasp, free of charge) to get some flight-time in...seeing what works and what doesn't and have a nice set of 8 tricks that I can do reliably and well. I am now reaching out to venues where we go to sing (and some new places) to try and land a 2-4 hour gig on the weekends...just for fun. Getting paid is not my primary motivation, performing and performing well certainly is...getting paid for performing well is the icing on the cake.

I love the advice about finding what works and what doesn't. I have learned that not everyone likes magic and some downright hate it - then there are those who literally squeal when they see me and yell "show me a trick, show me a trick". Those are my favorite to be honest because I can do something like "Stigmata" and know they will be talking about it for weeks :)

I am very comfortable in my own skin and approaching people is/has never been an issue for me. If someone tells me to "Eff off" then "off I Eff" with a smile. No worries....they come around sometimes and ask to see something later. That's also fun because you end up with a skeptic or cranky person who now likes what you're doing.

I also like the "I'm going to TRY this" advice. I say that all the time and find that it lets them know that you're there to entertain, not belittle or one-up anyone. I will throw in "it doesn't always work so bare with me" or This usually goes as planned...you might want to hide your wallet just in case though"....it puts them at ease and they are then able to focus on you first and the magic second.

Thanks again for the advice! It's always good to hear what others have gone through and experienced, not to copy anyone, rather to learn from those who have gone before you. No two people are the same so no two experiences are the same however there's enough commonality to pick up tiny tips here and there.

Of course one must learn for oneself... I appreciate that you took a moment to share vs using a generic "make your own mistakes"....you can always tell those who love the craft vs love themselves so cheers!

James
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 9, 2021 04:11PM)
Oh "make your own mistakes" is lazy advice.

It is not about making them. It is learning from them that matters.

First step? Understand you CAN AND WILL make mistakes. This step eludes most magicians and stops growth at any meaningful point.

Read "Zen and the Art of Archery". The author speaks of learning how to breathe and "loose" the arrow. He keeps getting it wrong and gets frustrated and finally asks the teacher to just tell him. The teachers response is paraphrased "why would I deprive you if the privilege of learning?"

Not a bad book and it can EASILY apply to the performance of magic.
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jun 9, 2021 04:22PM)
[quote]On Jun 9, 2021, Dannydoyle wrote:
Oh "make your own mistakes" is lazy advice.

It is not about making them. It is learning from them that matters.

First step? Understand you CAN AND WILL make mistakes. This step eludes most magicians and stops growth at any meaningful point.

Read "Zen and the Art of Archery". The author speaks of learning how to breathe and "loose" the arrow. He keeps getting it wrong and gets frustrated and finally asks the teacher to just tell him. The teachers response is paraphrased "why would I deprive you if the privilege of learning?"[/quote]

Yes, you need to make mistakes and learn from them, maybe that's obvious to me and it isn't for others so I get where you're coming from, Danny - no disrespect intended. I'm not asking for magic bullets since they simply don't exist and, when they do, they are very personal; what works for you may not work for me, etc

I'm more interested in what have you learned that has made you better? What would you go back and tell your "beginner to walk-around" self that you had to learn...maybe even more than once...to be the performer you are today. Your statement about "learning from your mistakes" is awesome and practical. You WILL make them....in fact, expect them, and then examine them (why did they happen, was it avoidable, etc)

Even though I am the quintessential beginner, I would suspect you might say something like "Don't take it personally if people aren't interested or don't want to see magic". I would certainly tell my "beginner karaoke self" not to trust karaoke applause. You can be amazing and get no applause and you can be crap and get people clapping like crazy. It's all about how "you" feel you did...

So I'm more interested in the wisdom people have acquired than their "how to" advice per se, if that makes sense.

There's so much wisdom here, I appreciate learning from people who have grown in their trade.

As a side note: I love listening to Eugene Berger pontificate for this very reason. He will go off and tell stories that have gems in them that could easily be missed if you're not listening hard enough...
Not a bad book and it can EASILY apply to the performance of magic.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 9, 2021 04:40PM)
The problem is you are seeking something that most likely can only be learned from experience. Life is a horrible teacher. It gives the tests first and the lessons afterwards.

You can try to sort circuit this universal truth but do so to your own detriment. If anything this is what I would tell my younger self. Spend less time doing exactly this and more on moving forward.
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jun 9, 2021 04:44PM)
[quote]On Jun 9, 2021, Dannydoyle wrote:
The problem is you are seeking something that most likely can only be learned from experience. Life is a horrible teacher. It gives the tests first and the lessons afterwards.

You can try to sort circuit this universal truth but do so to your own detriment. If anything this is what I would tell my younger self. Spend less time doing exactly this and more on moving forward. [/quote]

I think you're missing the point of what I'm saying entirely. No worries, thanks for your input...
Message: Posted by: MeetMagicMike (Jun 9, 2021 06:38PM)
Don't carry too many props with you. Just a few items that have wide appeal such as a deck of cards and sponge balls.

If you have a bad experience don't be quick to blame the audience. Ask yourself what you can do to avoid that problem in the future.
Message: Posted by: Avocat (Jun 9, 2021 06:57PM)
Work up to big applause cues - that'll help "sell" you to other tables so you're not just some guy bothering them uninvited

Along those lines, act managerial so you DO seem like you belong - my best approaches were simple: welcome them to the venue and introduce myself as the free entertainment

For grad nights in particular, I'd try to get to the venue first so I could welcome the graduates as they enter.
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jun 10, 2021 10:34AM)
[quote]On Jun 9, 2021, MeetMagicMike wrote:
Don't carry too many props with you. Just a few items that have wide appeal such as a deck of cards and sponge balls.

If you have a bad experience don't be quick to blame the audience. Ask yourself what you can do to avoid that problem in the future. [/quote]

Thank you! I really like this - pocket space management is super important!

Also, I agree - if someone doesn't "get" the trick then it's not their fault or the tricks. Very often it's the ability to articulate the effect either beforehand or while performing. In a word...CLARITY!

Cheers!
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jun 10, 2021 10:36AM)
[quote]On Jun 9, 2021, Avocat wrote:
Work up to big applause cues - that'll help "sell" you to other tables so you're not just some guy bothering them uninvited

Along those lines, act managerial so you DO seem like you belong - my best approaches were simple: welcome them to the venue and introduce myself as the free entertainment

For grad nights in particular, I'd try to get to the venue first so I could welcome the graduates as they enter. [/quote]

"Act Managerial"....that's wisdom right there. You're there for their entertainment, if they don't want to be entertained by you then that's absolutely fine....just move on. But you made it clear that you're there as part of the venue..

Thanks!
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Jun 10, 2021 10:55AM)
What I've learned from years of performing in restaurants is to make routines revolve around your audiences. Example: I learned to draw simple dog / cat and use it for a card routine. I ask if anyone has a dog at home. They write their dog's name on a card they think their dog (or cat) would like. NOW they are interested because the magic will be about them or something they care about.

Like wise, have cards signed. This personalizes the effect and they have more interest because it involves a part of them. (Their signature) Always have a wand. I keep one small enough to keep in my back pocket.
Let the spectator use it to make the magic happen. They have fun by sometimes tapping a friend or spouse on the head to try and change them into whatever.

Bottom line, no one cares about your fancy coin manipulations or card flourishes in and of themselves. They care about themselves and people close to them. So pay attention to routines you know or can develop to that end.

I enjoyed a 18 year long restaurant career until this frustrating, damaging viral pandemic March of 2020.
Hoping to get back out there but the restaurant industry is struggling just to get cooks and waitstaff.

Another piece of advice " HAVE FUN " be kind , courteous and sensitive to your audience.
FWIW.
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jun 10, 2021 01:50PM)
[quote]On Jun 10, 2021, davidpaul$ wrote:
What I've learned from years of performing in restaurants is to make routines revolve around your audiences. Example: I learned to draw simple dog / cat and use it for a card routine. I ask if anyone has a dog at home. They write their dog's name on a card they think their dog (or cat) would like. NOW they are interested because the magic will be about them or something they care about.

Like wise, have cards signed. This personalizes the effect and they have more interest because it involves a part of them. (Their signature) Always have a wand. I keep one small enough to keep in my back pocket.
Let the spectator use it to make the magic happen. They have fun by sometimes tapping a friend or spouse on the head to try and change them into whatever.

Bottom line, no one cares about your fancy coin manipulations or card flourishes in and of themselves. They care about themselves and people close to them. So pay attention to routines you know or can develop to that end.

I enjoyed a 18 year long restaurant career until this frustrating, damaging viral pandemic March of 2020.
Hoping to get back out there but the restaurant industry is struggling just to get cooks and waitstaff.

Another piece of advice " HAVE FUN " be kind , courteous and sensitive to your audience.
FWIW. [/quote]

Brilliant! I appreciate that...thank you!
Message: Posted by: Nickoli Sharpe (Jun 12, 2021 08:27PM)
Howdy Jay,
Not sure if your going to try bar or restaurant magic?
If you are, be sure to get PAID, I for one have never worked just for a meal.
I also do not except tips unless they insist.
When they do try to give me a tip I say no thanks Iím paid by the restaurant.
Or I might say no thanks but you could give it to your waiter there working very hard tonight.
If you do say that and the staff hear this you are now on there side.
Be a team player.
Learn when to excuse yourself from the table.
Like when the food arrives.
Finally learn the table numbers, like when the owner comes up and says hey I need you at table 31 there food order has been messed up.
Have fun and try to leave them laughing.
Nickoli
Message: Posted by: simplymagicweb (Jun 13, 2021 04:39AM)
I've been a working pro now for over 25 years... I'm certainly now a very different performer than when I first started. Here's a couple of things I've learnt over this period, which I hope helps you buddy;

1 - When I first started, my approach was high energy probably because I was doing a lot of children's magic as well. This high energy approach was OK for certain environments, but over time I have learnt to read my audience much better and adjust my voice and body language accordingly. I'm much more chilled and relaxed now, which seems to go down much better with my spectators.

2 - When I first started out, it was tried doing lots of complex finger flicking magic - why? Well I wanted to demonstrate to them that I was a skilful magician. So it was all about me. Me me me. Most of my effects didn't involve much audience participation either - why should it, after all it was all about me wasn't it! But having a big EGO didn't equate to referred business and repeat bookings! Now, most of my routines have lots of audience participation and are generally quite simple in terms of sleights. It's all about making THEM the focal point and the stars now, and not me. It's all about how you make them feel - and you make them feel good, then they will remember you and it will bring much gold.

3 - As a young magician, I spent a lot of time in Magic Clubs and performed for magicians. I guess this also impacted point number 2 above. One thing that I also picked up, was the use of certain patter phrases such as "would you like to change your mind... no, so you're happy with the mind you've got.." or "can a borrow your hand, no the clean one..." or "whats your name?... (they say Michael for example) Sorry? (they say Michael again)... No I meant sorry that you're called Michael" - I always saw these had many magicians laughing out loud, so naturally thought this would be essential to use in my act!!!! Hmmmmmmm NO. As previously mentioned, it's how you make people FEEL that's important, and coming over as a smart ass making them look a fool certainly wasn't good news. So now, all these lines are gone! So my patter has certainly changed now.

The good news is that despite making lots of mistakes over the years, I'm still going strong - earning a living doing what I love. I guess the major different now is that my "people skills" are much much better than when I started off, and I'm comfortable in my own skin.

Good luck with your magical journey Jay
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jun 15, 2021 07:45AM)
[quote]On Jun 12, 2021, Nickoli Sharpe wrote:
Howdy Jay,
Not sure if your going to try bar or restaurant magic?
If you are, be sure to get PAID, I for one have never worked just for a meal.
I also do not except tips unless they insist.
When they do try to give me a tip I say no thanks Iím paid by the restaurant.
Or I might say no thanks but you could give it to your waiter there working very hard tonight.
If you do say that and the staff hear this you are now on there side.
Be a team player.
Learn when to excuse yourself from the table.
Like when the food arrives.
Finally learn the table numbers, like when the owner comes up and says hey I need you at table 31 there food order has been messed up.
Have fun and try to leave them laughing.
Nickoli [/quote]

Hello Nickoli! Thanks so much for your reply! I definitely appreciate the insights - I am more leaning toward bar / party walk around but that advice carries down as well, let the staff know you're on their side and working with them, not competing with them.

Much appreciated!
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jun 15, 2021 07:46AM)
[quote]On Jun 13, 2021, simplymagicweb wrote:
I've been a working pro now for over 25 years... I'm certainly now a very different performer than when I first started. Here's a couple of things I've learnt over this period, which I hope helps you buddy;

1 - When I first started, my approach was high energy probably because I was doing a lot of children's magic as well. This high energy approach was OK for certain environments, but over time I have learnt to read my audience much better and adjust my voice and body language accordingly. I'm much more chilled and relaxed now, which seems to go down much better with my spectators.

2 - When I first started out, it was tried doing lots of complex finger flicking magic - why? Well I wanted to demonstrate to them that I was a skilful magician. So it was all about me. Me me me. Most of my effects didn't involve much audience participation either - why should it, after all it was all about me wasn't it! But having a big EGO didn't equate to referred business and repeat bookings! Now, most of my routines have lots of audience participation and are generally quite simple in terms of sleights. It's all about making THEM the focal point and the stars now, and not me. It's all about how you make them feel - and you make them feel good, then they will remember you and it will bring much gold.

3 - As a young magician, I spent a lot of time in Magic Clubs and performed for magicians. I guess this also impacted point number 2 above. One thing that I also picked up, was the use of certain patter phrases such as "would you like to change your mind... no, so you're happy with the mind you've got.." or "can a borrow your hand, no the clean one..." or "whats your name?... (they say Michael for example) Sorry? (they say Michael again)... No I meant sorry that you're called Michael" - I always saw these had many magicians laughing out loud, so naturally thought this would be essential to use in my act!!!! Hmmmmmmm NO. As previously mentioned, it's how you make people FEEL that's important, and coming over as a smart ass making them look a fool certainly wasn't good news. So now, all these lines are gone! So my patter has certainly changed now.

The good news is that despite making lots of mistakes over the years, I'm still going strong - earning a living doing what I love. I guess the major different now is that my "people skills" are much much better than when I started off, and I'm comfortable in my own skin.

Good luck with your magical journey Jay [/quote]

Some real gems here! Thank you - if it's ok I'd like to PM you directly for a couple follow up thoughts...

This is great insight and I really appreciate it!

James
Message: Posted by: simplymagicweb (Jun 15, 2021 08:14AM)
Hi James - yeah no problem, happy to help if I can buddy
Message: Posted by: NEKKODDD (Jun 18, 2021 09:51AM)
I think the key is to remember the key is to entertain the customer. It is not just about the magic.
Message: Posted by: The great Gumbini (Jul 19, 2021 11:00PM)
I would tell my younger self one important lesson I learned along the way and that is you will screw up sometimes you will know you messed up an effect and you will learn a very important lesson... most of the time you will be the only one who knows you goofed up the effect!

Good magic to all,


Eric
Message: Posted by: JayCee0919 (Jul 20, 2021 05:50PM)
[quote]On Jul 19, 2021, The great Gumbini wrote:
I would tell my younger self one important lesson I learned along the way and that is you will screw up sometimes you will know you messed up an effect and you will learn a very important lesson... most of the time you will be the only one who knows you goofed up the effect!

Good magic to all,


Eric [/quote]

Thank you, Eric! So true and good to remember that everyone screws up...nobody is perfect and sometimes you just have to learn from it and move on...