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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Why don't we start considering the audience? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Dannydoyle
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Well that seems like an obvious question but apparantly not as obvious as I like to think.

Why is it when we buy tricks we fall for things like "packs flat plays big". Nowhere in that is the audience considered. Many recent threads allude to things that are not really considering the audience. They encourage throwing people with not enough knowlege out there and having them charge people to see a show. Then it is advocated to "do enough bad shows and eventually you will figure it out". Again the audience that has to sit through this is not considered.

Arren't they the people we want to perform for in the first place? Shouldn't they enter into the equasion? It frustrates me.

Things about how magic is a "monologue" or a "personal art".

Let me tell you in front of your mirror it is a monologue, in your living room it is a personal art, step onto a stage and you need to consider the audience.

We make excuses for bad work, instead of doing the work. We insult laymen (heck the term ALONE is pretty insulting) with nonsense like "well the laymen will never notice", as if they are beyond stupid! What could be MORE insulting. Almost without fail the "laymen" do catch them.

When are we going to step up to the plate and really start to play the game? They pay for my food and house and dog, I for one wish we would treat them with more respect.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
JackScratch
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Uh, "plays big" is all about the audience.

I don't think most people who are serious magicians fail to consider their audience. I wont say it doesn't happen, but I think you are fighting the same fight a lot of us are and calling it a new one.
Jaz
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Packs flat?
I'm not liking the limitations there.
Pack small maybe.

My idea for any type of strolling magic is to work from our clothing.
You can hang things on a belt, carry things in pockets and a pouch if need be. The stuff doesn't have to be flat but it sure should be something you can entertain with.

Paid show or free show, everyone should be treated with respect.
Tolerating those whose like to crack nuts is tough but...

Entertaining an audience the first few times is part of the learning process.
Until this happens your practice, scripts and rehearsals mean little as they have to be tested and adjusted. Sometimes it doesn't work the way you expect.
Bill Palmer
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The magic occurs in the minds of the audience, but only if we cause it to. We can cause it not to occur, as well.

If we are, as some of us claim to be, artists, then the brushes, the colors and the palette are the props, the costume, the setting and the script. The canvas is the minds of the audience. If we do things to mess up the canvas while we are doing our work, the results will not be what we want them to be.

Some of our work is not a monologue. Sometimes it is a dialogue with the audience. Or it may be a dialogue with an audience member on stage with us. How we work with that person will affect the canvas in either a postive or a negative manner.

I don't think the term "layman" is insulting. It means "regular people." It doesn't mean "idiot." If we call them pejorative terms, such as "marks" or "fish," then we are being insulting.
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Dannydoyle
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I guess I want to know if it is such common sense, and it makes so much sense to everyone, then why does it happen?

And it happens a LOT. When it happens, nobody says anything. Why do we let it happen?

I guess more importantly is there anything served except aggravation on both parts when something is said? Does it really help anyone? It seems not to. So shutting up seems in order. (I can hear the cheers already!)
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
RobertBloor
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Bravo mate. Audience is kind of important to consider I think.

After all, they pay, they decide whether they like you or not. They have enormous influence over whether you're booked again by that theatre, business, agent etc.

The reason the audience is left last can be summed up in one word: EGO.

Magicians have egos bigger than any performers I've ever met. They think their tricks are too cool. Like once they can do a Svengali deck they become part of some secret club of "I know how the trick works and can't tell. Nani nani."

I think Bill Palmer's comment about "laymen" goes along with my previous line of thinking. (Before anyone attacks, I'm sure I've probably said it before) saying "laymen" puts the audience on a lower level than you.

It indirectly means, "I'm know something you don't know. Nani nani."

"Dialogue" magic is the HARDEST kind of magic to perform. My entire Street Magic LIVE! show is a "Dialogue" performance. And that makes it difficult. Getting people to stop at a festival, sit, laugh, enjoy is not easy work.

It's why musicians tend to have it easier. Whether anyone is paying attention or not, you play/sing, and get off the stage.

Street Magic LIVE! (and many magic shows for that matter), requires the audience to watch, interact, participate, and follow along.

Musicians (or "monologue" performers) just have to play. Many times they're just "background."

And Bill is right about how interacting with one audience member can affect the entire group. I've done shows where I've watched a particular person - they're laughing, clapping and having a good time - and when I pull them up to help me with something, they freeze up, frown and don't chuckle and interact with the jokes.

That kills the flow of the show, and hurts it for the audience.

Is it my fault when that happens? Yes. Partly anyway.
Is it their fault? In some way.

But hey, it happens. The best thing to do then is minimize their exposure in front of the audience, and work back to someone you know has already hammed it up with you.

Either way, we all end up changing our show, mid-show, at some point or another, and each time that happens, I hope we're doing things with the audience in mind.

Robert
"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,"
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Bill Palmer
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Danny:

I've run into negativity from formerly abused audience members, that is, people who have been abused by other magicians. I think that if some of the abusers really gave thought to what they were doing, and realized that what some of us think of as fun is actually very humiliating, we wouldn't do certain things we do.

There are ways to make sport of people in front of others. But you have to pull the ridicule onto yourself. If you make your audience laugh at other members of the audience without having them laugh at you harder, you will make enemies. If you do it goodnaturedly, people will actually want to come up and be part of your show.

I'm speaking from experience here. I've done it both ways. At my age, I'd rather people like me.

BTW, Jaz:

I used to smile at the magic put out by Supreme. They made more things from cardboard than any other magic company in the world. And they used to say "Plays big, packs flat."

I thought their stuff "Played Flat and Packed Big."
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Dannydoyle
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Yeah, when they refer to "play big" they mean LOTS CAN SEE IT, not that they like it.

Bill you are SO right. People don't mind good-natured fun, if YOU are also a target.

I spend the first little while including myself in the jokes. Man what a great point.

I think that often this gets overlooked because the later stuff gets the bigger laughs, so when guys steal the lines, they only put in the huge laugh lines, and not the situational set up lines that allow you to get away with the jokes later.

Wow what a run-on sentence that was.

Bill I kind of look at it as a partnership. We are both in it together! We both get laughed at. And while it happens to me also, they know how much people like "me" so they know they are being laughed WITH and not AT.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Bill Palmer
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Robert:

Generally speaking, "layman" means someone who is a non-professional. When I use it to refer to people who are non-magicians, it does not have any kind of connotation other than "not being informed about how tricks work." It's like the common phrase "a layman's view of medicine." One of the organizations I have performed for in the past is the Lutheran Layman's League. They are non-clerics who have formed a group that furnishes insurance and low-cost loans to other Lutherans. There is nothing pejorative or derisive about the term.

When I look out into an audience, I think of this: I don't work cheap. The people who hired me must make a lot of money. So they probably have jobs that are far more important in the grand scheme of things than pushing a red silk into a TT and making it disappear. There are doctors, lawyers, CEO's of corporations, engineers -- people whose skills and occupations can affect people on a life or death basis. I am a layman in their fields. I have plenty of respect for them, and by doing so, they have respect for me.


Danny:

I have often de-fused situations that were started by other performers. I referred on more than one occasion to a performance I did in which the opening act, a "comic" (who definitely wasn't funny) messed up by throwing heckle-stoppers into the audience prematurely. I de-fused this by pulling it all onto me, then entertaining them. That was the one where I got the standing ovation. The audience really understood what had gone on and appreciated what I had done.

But you have hit the nail right on the head. The relationship in a show is basically a partnership. At the end of the show, before I get offstage, I ask for a round of applause for all of the people who came up and helped me, and I add, "for without them, there is no show." It takes only a few seconds, but it means so much!
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Dannydoyle
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Bill, BINGO!
Danny Doyle
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Magicshore
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Bill

Excellent comments on the "partnership" perspective with the audience.

John
Bill Palmer
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Let me also add this. Terry Seabrooke can be very rough on his audience volunteers. But when he sends people back to their seats he always uses a line like this: "As they return to their seats, let's give them a big round of applause, which they RICHLY deserve!"

There have been comics who made their living as "insult comics," the most famous recent one being Don Rickles. But at the end of Don's show, he always brings the insults back to himself. And he reminds the audience before he starts that he is going to insult EVERYONE.

The late Rodney Dangerfield took the opposite tack. He insulted himself.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
JackScratch
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When I perform my festival character, I write my scripts in such a way as to make myself my participants victim. I become the straight man to my participants comedy. I learned long ago that direct comedy wasn't my gift, so I wrote to compliment my natural straight nature. My audiences seem to revel in my general misfortunes.

In my stage show, I learned over time that there were particular instructions that I could give that seemed to be followed incorrectly the same way every time. SO I began useing those mistakes in the performance. One of my favorites is the "Codrs of Fantasia" as found in "Mark Wislon's Complete Course in Magic" Pg 303. I have two children take the stage and stand at either side of me. Oncew the initial knot os tied around the wand (pencil) they each hold the two ends of the cords on their respective sides. I take one of the cords on each side in hand and instruct the children to "release the cord which I am holding." Invariably one or both of the children release both of the cords that they were holding. This is where I incert a variety of responces depending on the particulars of the error. An example is replying "When I said release the cord that I am holding, I had intended you to relkease ONLY the cord that I was holding..." during this statement the audience has a good laugh and the child realises the error and grabs the remaining cord. The longer it takes to right the wrong, the funnier the situation is, and the more frustrated I appear to become, though never angry, always sardonic.
Jeff Hinchliffe
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All the great magicians, past and present, have considered the audience.
Pick a card, any card...
bishthemagish
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Just a few added thoughts...

Perhaps it is good to look at your magic show from the point of view of the audience. I mentioned this in another thread. It may be fun to be fooled but is it fun for a spectator to be made to look like a fool in front of there friends?

Is a good idea to treat the audience with respect when they buy your show?

Some may feel that a magic show is a partnership and that is fine with me if they do. But often the client puts down cash for the service of a magician to do a show. And if the needs of the client are not met they do not like it.

This I feel is also true of people that will pay money - up to 70 dollars or more for a ticket to see a show. Some travel to a resort town and spend quite a bit of money and go out of there way to see their vacation money - their hard earned vacation money give them the most entertainment bang for the buck.

They when spending 20 to 100 dollars a ticket are putting an investment into there evenings entertainment. These people could feel that they deserve to be treated with respect and also feel that if the show is not good form their point of view have the right to complain and talk about it to their friends when they get home.

It may from the point of view from the audience be a 20 - 80 partnership because the audience and the client have no idea what the performer has invested in their show, in the way of props, theater, costumes, and years of experience.

Most of the performers that I have known when growing up looked at performing a show as if they were inviting the audience to watch them perform at there home in there living room and treated them as honored guests.

Just a few thoughts and my opinion to add to the thoughts and opinion of this wonderful thread!
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kregg
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The first time I heard "plays big, packs small' was Dan Harlan. But, I don't believe he meant anything other than trying to help magicians lighten their load from show to show. Michael Ammar tried to help magician's with their P/E ratio in the mid-eighties by recommending they could pack a show into a brief case or load a tractor trailer.
If anything these trends have made magic more accessible by making magic one-on-one and personal. Today, street magic and walk around are bigger than when I started out in magic.
Professionally, I have never met an agent or a manager who would represent an act that disregards their audience, it isn't professional and it's all about the money. If you want to succeed you'd better have a great quality product and know who's buying your product.
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bishthemagish
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Nice posting kregg. Thanks for posting it.
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Dannydoyle
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Ok so now we are considering the audience right? They come first. They are paramount in our thoughts. They are why we do what we do. Fine with me.

Now lets say we thought the OPPOSITE, how would our actions be any different?

What I mean is some of our philispohies do NOT indicate this idea in the least.

For example "just grab some props, no script, just start finding an audience and making some money" is a quote from another thread. HOW IS THE AUDIENCE CONSIDERED IN THIS EQUASION?

Answer, they simply are not.

Many many many of the theories and ideas expressed right HERE in the Café' have nothing to do with the audience. Packs flat plays big has been perverted into a sales pitch.

So I guess we all know the text book answer. But when we encourage others, simply not ready to go work to do so, it is counter indicated by what we have all just agreed upon.

This is the point I have tried to make so many times in other threads that gets lost in the heat of insults and back biting.

Also I take into account the magicians "feelings" AFTER the audience. If they are not ready they are not ready. So what? They will be some day soon! Why do our "feelings" being hurt take a higher place than what the audience has to suffer through.

"Just go out and learn in front of your audience". Another pretty bad way to learn. As I said all this is counter indicated by what we have agreed upon in this thread, but I get arguements in other threads. I simply can't figure out why.

Posted: Apr 29, 2006 6:45pm
Quote:

On 2006-04-29 17:06, bishthemagish wrote:
Just a few added thoughts...

Perhaps it is good to look at your magic show from the point of view of the audience. I mentioned this in another thread. It may be fun to be fooled but is it fun for a spectator to be made to look like a fool in front of there friends?

PERHAPS it is a good idea?

That is somewhat akin to saying "perhaps it is a good idea to go inside a strong building during a catagory 5 hurricane!"
Danny Doyle
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bishthemagish
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Quote:
On 2006-04-29 18:43, Dannydoyle wrote:
For example "just grab some props, no script, just start finding an audience and making some money" is a quote from another thread. HOW IS THE AUDIENCE CONSIDERED IN THIS EQUASION?

Answer, they simply are not.

First of all I never said grab some props and forget about a script. I suggest you reread the thread. And I have often said and being both a performer and a dealer for years that magicians buy magic for two reason's.

The magician that does magic for a living or does magic shows for free or whatever and is a performer. They buy magic from the point of view to please an audience. In other words most of them buy it with the audience in mind. Because there is a NEED to please the audience for the success of the show.

A magician that does magic as a hobby will buy magic because it is a personal investment in his education of magic. Because they do magic for personal reasons.

There is no thought to the audience just a purchase to please themselves.

If we are telling the hobby magician to just grab some tricks off the shelf (and I never said to do this except as a metaphor) there is some education about how to routine a show and what makes a good selection of tricks for their first show. And scripting would be helpful. And they would learn by doing that they need to please that audience. But I see no reason that some may get fun out of magic by swimming in the shallow end of the pool. I have no problem with them doing small shows and make a little money and then use it to buy more magic.

Magicians that start as a hobby often if they want to do shows for money learn how to do shows and if they don't learn and if they don't meet the needs and the demands of the business they will find it hard to get work. And I think that if they don't meet the clients needs and the entertainment needs of the audience they will find it hard to get work.

It is like kregg said above.
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kregg
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Unless I stand corrected, the "Grab some props..." line was in reverence to the late great Jay Marshall.
If the Professor said, "Let me grab a deck of cards and we'll go to the castle" or any seasoned professional for that matter, they would be well within their right.
On the other hand, if one with little flight time tried that it would most likely be a disaster and the audience isn't the only party that would suffer as a result.
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