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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » It Takes Nerve (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

bishthemagish
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To be able to get out there and do magic shows. Or to be able to walk up to a group of total strangers and engage them to watch magic. It takes nerve to gather a crowd as a street performer or as a ground attraction at a fair or a festival. Then entertain them and then if you are a street performer pass the hat for tips.

It takes real nerve to be a performer. And part of being a performer when you are starting out is dealing with the hands that shake and the strange feeling that we all get. Often called the butterflies in the mid section.

That quizzed feeling like your going to throw up that we all feel. And some performers do throw up before an important show (I have). Because the pressure performers can put on themselves for an important show can be great. We want and often need to be able to put on a good show.

Every performing magician has to deal with that nerve feeling. In fact this nerve feeling is what stops many performers from getting out there and makes many go into an early retirement. I feel that it is the nerve feeling is why so many people in show business of past and present often resort to drugs and drink.

Dai Vernon said in the book revelations - Erdnase Expert at the card table with Dai Vernon comments on the side of the original text. Dai Vernon mentions that most card sharks that use a hold out - the device that is in the sleeve used to pull cards up the sleeve for cheating - because of the nerve it takes to use this cheating device - they most often resort to drugs or drink to calm their nerves. I feel that that is the reason so many magicians and artists of the performing arts drank or had drug problems. For many the drinking and the drugs knocked them out of show business and many have crashed and burned on the sidelines.

In my opinion the best way to deal with the nerve feeling is to do more shows. The more shows the better you get and the less you will care about the nerve feeling. When I performed at the magic castle. A place I read about since I was young. A place that has the best magicians performing there in the world. My hands shook on the first show and I had that nerve feeling. But after I got used to the place and did more shows it went away.

That nerve feeling is something that is part of human nature. And something that every magician and performer has to deal with. No mater if the performer is good or bad. Card sharks have to deal with it - sports stars - dancers - rock and roll groups in fact everyone that does something in front of an audience has to deal with it.

It is part of the way we feel and tells us that we a alive and right now we are living in the moment. The nerve feeling isn’t a bad thing it is part of human nature and the best way to deal with it is to do more shows and it goes away!
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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George Ledo
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Although I agree with 99% of your comments, I do have to disagree with the very end: "... the best way to deal with it is to do more shows and it goes away!"

Having said that, Smile

Professional actors, singers, comedians, and others all have this; it's called butterflies in the stomach. It's partly the energy that comes from "wanting to knock 'em dead" directed inwards because they're not on stage yet and can't direct it outwards where it belongs. This is normal with performers who really care about what they're doing. You don't want it to go away. Not having this nervous feeling just before a performance leads to complacency, to taking the performance for granted, to thinking you're too good to get nervous, and to not doing your best.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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bishthemagish
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It goes away for a while. But if the performer has a lay off - it comes back. If you spend your life performing it is a life of performing and lay off times. Magicians and actors and all people in show business have lay off times.

I used to watch my Dad at the Saber Room do shows over years. When he was working he rocked the room. When he had a lay off time as all performers have from time to time. The first show back he wasn't a sharp. Not that he did a bad show but it took him a few shows to warm up again.

Then he rocked the room.

My point is that we as performer if we choose to do this as our "life’s work" have to deal with the nerve feeling. And how we deal with the nerve feeling can help or hurt our success in show business.

Ted Annemann was booked at the Chicago Palmer House. According to page 256 in the 4th book of the Vernon Chronicles. He was a great innovator but not a great performer. His show at the Palmer House was built up beyond his capabilities as a performer.

He had a nice little drawing room act but HE may have not been ready to take on the BIG rooms like the Palmer House.

He committed suicide...

Having to deal with these nerve feelings is part of show business. And I do not think that they ever go away forever. But I still feel that the best way to deal with them is to do more shows...
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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longhaired1
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I always tried to draw the distinction between nervousness and excitement, and I always tried to trigger the nervousness in myself early in the process while I could do something about it.. namely to prepare as well as possible. For instance if I could I would trigger the nervousness early in the day and then release that energy into ironing the silks, preparing the props and double checking everything .. this way the energy was released in a productive fashion and I emerged with a greater confidence that I had done everything I could to make things go well.

The occassional performer has the luxury of triggering the nervousness days or even weeks ahead of the show, again when you have the time to do something to positively affect the outcome.

Onstage I always like to have some small ritual or bit of business very early in the act that served as my "grounding" activity. Be it waving your hand over an object or knotting a silk... it didn't really matter what it was, but it was a very specific and simple act during which I remind myself to slow down, calm down and most importantly breathe deeply. I found that any shakiness or anxiety would go away via that method and I could better focus on the task at hand.
RandyStewart
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Regarding his monologue, Johnny Carson confessed to Butterflies in the stomach even into his 30th. year. Some nights better than others but he showed every night and we all loved and respected him for it. And wasn't he something? Gotta love it.
Corey Harris
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This is a great post. I have a horrible problem with nerves when it comes to magic. I can perform for friends, family and other magicians with pretty much no problem at all. But it is hard to do it in front of strangers. This has kept me from doing any shows or any walk around or table hopping. I believe nerves can be a good thing, I have always thought about it as showing that you care about something. I have been a Professional Wrestler for over 3 years now, And I still get nervous right before I have to walk through that curtain and work the crowd and the TV audience. When I was involved in music I was Nervous up to the last few concerts that I performed that's when I knew it was time to get out of the music business. I didn't care about it any more.
bishthemagish
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I think that is why a lot of performers use a stage name so when they appear on stage they are someone else and not themselves. Actors have that advantage to - to be able to lose themselves in a part. So it is sort of someone else out there.

Fu Manchu said in his book the illusion show that he almost had a split personality. The calm Fu Manchu and the Nervous David Bamberg. According to his book he had a heck of a time with the nerve feeling.

I suppose that is why a lot of performers would have a drink before the show to calm the nerves.

When I started I use to throw up before a show. And when I was working restaurants it took me the first half hour of performing to warm up before I settled down to have fun.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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Slim Price
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I had two parts to my "ritual." The first was to use my ball of modeling clay, (read Howie Diddit) to give my hands the right tack,and as a tranquilizer, and then take a few seconds to feel my audience (empathy) For a coupe of seconds I would sweat at the the beginning,and then I was OK.
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chrisrkline
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Quote:
On 2005-06-20 17:26, Corey Harris wrote:
This is a great post. I have a horrible problem with nerves when it comes to magic. I can perform for friends, family and other magicians with pretty much no problem at all. But it is hard to do it in front of strangers. This has kept me from doing any shows or any walk around or table hopping. I believe nerves can be a good thing, I have always thought about it as showing that you care about something. I have been a Professional Wrestler for over 3 years now, And I still get nervous right before I have to walk through that curtain and work the crowd and the TV audience. When I was involved in music I was Nervous up to the last few concerts that I performed that's when I knew it was time to get out of the music business. I didn't care about it any more.


Weird. I am the opposite. I can perform for strangers generally better than I can perform for friends and magicians. It may be that I am less comfortable being someone else in character around people who never knew me to be anything be somewhat shy. With magicians, I always assume I am a pretender and they will see through that.

I agree with what you say about the importance of nerves. I think if they completely leave you, you are taking everything too much for granted.
Chris
C Christian
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Yes, I find this odd but necessary these Butterflies in my bread basket.
I guess what I find odd is that at times when I go on stage as one of my characters the nerves are much less....But when I go on as me or when I emcee my butterflies are flying overtime but some how I keep it "in check" and nobody knows except for my wife she can read me like no other.
George Carlin said that he still gets that anxiety before a show after 50 years. He also went on to say that if it were to ever really stop that it would mark the end of him working in front of a live audience. In my 10 years of doing this I can hope and pray that it will last for another 40 years.
cheers chris
jskalon
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Great post Glenn. It's nice to know you're (meaning me) not alone when it comes to being nervous. I'm just getting back into magic after a very long lay-off. I don't remember ever being this nervous while performing in the past.
(by the way, Al Bach says "Hello")
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Father Photius
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It takes nerve to get out of the bed in the morning. Life is a series of risks and chances. We take them , whether we want to or not. Even choosing to not face or take a known risk is the act of taking an unknown one. I've performed in magic for over 40 years, and I've gotten up in front a a crowd and run off at the mouth every Sunday for about 30 years. I still have my pre-performance doubts, I think that with repetition and exposure I just don't worry about them as much as I used to. The more I do it the more I know I will still walk away without something haveing eaten me, or that the world hasn't come to an end because my sermon or performance was one that wow'ed them. There is always a next time.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Jerrine
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If nerve is what it takes I must be at least 80% nerve. Never been apprehensive about approaching anyone to speak or perform, even as a child. My Lady often gives me the tone down eye before entering a public place because talking to strangers, engaging children, and speaking my mind is a given. She claims adult A.D.D. is the reason, I prefer extreme extrovert. We are complete opposites. What do I have to offer those at the other end of the spectrum? Consider that it's not open heart surgery. No one was ever hurt by carefully performed Magic, lack of fire, pointy sticks, ect. I'm thinking it should be all about the fun so relax and have some. Nervousness, just say no.
bishthemagish
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I would like to thank everyone for posting in this thread. I feel that we as magicians are very special people and we do great work and bring fun and joy into (at times) - a dark world.

This nerve thing is one of the things that we all go through and we all must deal with it. And I think it may help younger members of the Café to read that we all go through this and still do magic and that is what we love doing.

Thanks again for posting...
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Marshall Thornside
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I did an impromtu performance last night.
last minute.
30 mins set.

Bring Me Too
Leaves
For Jose
Naiad's Song
The Girl
Valerie's Song
6th hour 6th day
Rain,
Firecracker.
Starslider.

No practise prior.
Just cold.
No set list.

And it does take nerve!
Three years ago, I couldn't
just do that.

It takes a lot of practise
and being a seasoned performer
to just do it.
you will remember my name

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Chrystal
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Hi,

I think it we become too complacent about our performances than perhaps it would show to our audience. Being nervous is a good thing, keeps us alert and on our toes, and allows us to react to any unexpected scenerio that may occur.

Chrystal

Marshall,- Love your new avatar pic!
Marshall Thornside
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Quote:
On 2005-06-21 20:21, Chrystal wrote:

Marshall,- Love your new avatar pic!



Hey thanks Chrystal.
Uncle Sid (Lorraine) took that
when we were working the CNE.
Them were the days! And that was
the little temple my dad built
for me.

*sigh*

I feel old!
you will remember my name

World's Youngest Illusionista
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Chrystal
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Hi Again,

Ahhh the stories you must have Marshall! What lineage you have in your background! I always look forward to your input.

C
Marshall Thornside
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Quote:
On 2005-06-22 03:36, Chrystal wrote:
Hi Again,

Ahhh the stories you must have Marshall! What lineage you have in your background! I always look forward to your input.

C


I only have a few.
You should hear my parents.
Now those are some stories!
you will remember my name

World's Youngest Illusionista
7th greatest pianist in the world
Go Red For Women and Stroke Ambassador
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Shawn74
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The other things that tend to cause nerves when performing magic (at least in my case and the cases of a few other people that I've talked to) is the fear of messing up a trick or blowing a sleight. Even though I realize these are stumbeling blocks that will happen at times, usually the fear of that sadly keeps me from even doing a trick.

But I think that with magic this is a big factor in the nervousness.
Hold your breath...make a wish...count to 3... and you'll be in a world of pure imagination
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