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The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ New to magic? Ľ Ľ The Audience Doesn't Care part 2 of 2 (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

William Draven
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Los Angeles, CA
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The one thing I get complemented on more than anything else it seems is my confidence on stage and my ability to control my audience. Well I can say one thing, this isnít just a gift I unwrapped one Christmas morning and then was able to use it ever since. Itís a talent that any performer can hone with enough experience and practice. That is, the controlling your audience and even to a degree your environment. Iím afraid the confidence thing is something that you either have or donít. The good news is that you can build on your confidence by consistently seeking to achieve desired results. At first, the results may be as simple as making someone laugh at a scripted joke, but in time it may expand to obtaining a standing ovation at the end of your act. Each little success you encounter is a lesson learned, and a step forward in building more confidence in yourself as an entertainer.

When you are on stage, take a minute before you make your entrance and really study and take in everything around you. Look at the people in the audience, note what they are wearing, look at the stage, the props, how things are set out, observe EVERYTHING. When you are on set, you become the master of your environment. Youíre the reason why people are there, youíre the show! If the mic breaks, play off it! If someone trips coming up onto stage with you, use that moment to connect with the spectator and your audience. Literally everything is a chance to interact and help make the scene perfect. Actors call this ďmethod actingĒ, I call it entertainment. When Iíve been on stage before Iíve stolen hats, watches, wallets, picked my nose at people, among a list of other things Iíd rather not go on record to admitting, all for the sake of entertainment! You want to know something? Each time, my audience left with a little something special that they can take with them and tell their friends back home about. You just have to open up your mind and use your imagination, make safe judgment calls (lets face it, not all funny ideas are good ones), and of course have fun! If youíre not having fun then chances are your audience wonít either.

One thing you do want to be aware of when performing is your body language and tone of voice. Body language makes up for 93% of human communication leaving only 7% for verbally spoken words. Body language can also be used to ďreadĒ someone and can be very useful in cold reading. The technique of 'reading' people is used frequently. For example, the idea of mirroring body language to put people at ease is commonly used in interviews. Mirroring the body language of someone else indicates that they are understood. When dealing with children, itís best to kneel down to their level, instead of talking down to them. This helps them feel more important, and like they are a part of the conversation as opposed to just observing it.

(To Be Continued)
William Draven
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Los Angeles, CA
466 Posts

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(Continued From Above)

Body language signals may have a goal other than communication. Observers limit the weight they place on non-verbal cues. Signalers clarify their signals to indicate the biological origin of their actions. One of the most basic and powerful body-language signals is when a person crosses his or her arms across the chest. This can indicate that a person is putting up an unconscious barrier between themselves and others. It can also indicate that the person's arms are cold which would be clarified by rubbing the arms or huddling. When the overall situation is amicable, it can mean that a person is thinking deeply about what is being discussed. But in a serious or confrontational situation, it can mean that a person is expressing opposition. This is especially so if the person is leaning away from the speaker. A harsh or blank facial expression often indicates outright hostility.

When you are performing on stage itís important to keep in mind the signals you send out to your audience just by the way you hold your body. Donít cross your arms, and donít keep your hands in your pockets. Hands in your pockets can mean youíre nervous or uncomfortable with what you are doing. The audience can sense insecurity in a performance like a pack of wild animals sensing a wounded animal. The results in both examples are the same. Both subjects are torn apart by those watching them.

Tone of voice and cadence of delivery are also equally important. If you stutter or stammer a lot you can suggest to your audience that the material you are presenting isnít well rehearsed and you are not comfortable with it. Also, if you arenít aware of how you are speaking you may accidentally sound unpleasant, taunting, or condescending to your audience. Modern street magicians and card workers take note! If you are not 100% aware of your patter, how it is scripted, and delivered you take risk at separating yourself from your spectators by accidentally setting up a challenge in both the effect you chose to perform and the tone of voice, and displayed body language used to deliver it. I see this all too often with young magicians videos posted on YouTube.

This may seem like a ďno duhĒ statement but Iím going to make it anyways. Donít run blue humor in your act. By blue I mean material that is lude, offensive, sexual, or foul. You never know who will be in your audience, and just what kind of a gig you may be screwing yourself out of.

When you perform, remember the names of your spectators at the very least for the duration of your show. It may seem like such a minor point, but you will really make the spectator feel special if you remember their name all night long. Again, you never know who will be in your audience, and whom they may be friends with so it pays to impress!

(To Be Continued)
William Draven
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Los Angeles, CA
466 Posts

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(Continued From Above)

Improving One Self and Act

Dare I say this and not be crucified for it by the magic community at large? I think I have found a productive use for all magic related videos found on Youtube; Self improvement! To improve your own act you need to know what the audience likes and dislikes. The easiest way to do that is to become the audience yourself. If you live in fortunate areas like Los Angeles, or Las Vegas then youíre blessed with a plethora of magic venues in which you can see many talented, and not so much so, acts perform. If you donít have a strong thriving magic community where you live then the good news is there is always YouTube! By watching with a constructive and critical eye others perform you develop a true sense of magical timing. You learn to know not only how the magic is done, but when it happens. Magic Iíve heard described is the moment in time where the spectator creates that special memory of the performance, and not the slights used to get there. When you watch a performance consider many things. Blocking, Body Language, Tone of Voice, Colors, Costumes, Lighting, Music, Spectator Participation, etc. Youíll see what patter works, what styles of delivery you personally like best, and youíll begin to incorporate elements of these personal favorites into your own style of presentation. Like slight of hand, this is also a skill that will develop over watching hundreds of performances. Itís something everyone should be doing.

Getting reviews from others is a great way to improve your act. If you can share your performance videos with other magicians their input on your patter, act, and magic could be worth gold! You should also be aware that youíll most likely encounter three kinds of reviews. The first is from magicians, the second is from laymen, and brother let me tell you they are as different as night and day. Magicians are great for getting a good idea on how your technical chops are. They can spot the subtleties that are wasted on a lay audience. While your laymen are wonderful at letting you know the feel for pacing, patter delivery, and overall impression of the act at large. Youíll need them both to get a well rounded idea of how your act is growing and developing. The third kind of review is also the hardest kind. That third kind of review is the kind you give yourself, and believe me, no critic is harder than the one staring back at you in the mirror. Also, as a final note here, take all advice from other magicians with a tablespoon full of salt. Magicians tend to be a very opinionated bunch, and not all opinions are good ones.

(To Be Continued)
William Draven
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Los Angeles, CA
466 Posts

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(Continued From Above)

We are very fortunate in this day and age to have access to the internet. Online websites with forums geared toward magicians are quickly replacing clubs as the popular medium for getting constructive criticism and sadly spreading gossip about magic. However I think if we truly want to progress our art form to the next level we should also seek to improve ourselves online as well as off. One of the easiest things we can do online is to not be so quick to verbally destroy each other without backing up our assaults with legitimate and logical opinions. Improvement begins with the simplest reply. Instead of offering your reply of X thing sucks, discuss why X thing sucks so badly, what about it you didnít like, and how you think it could be better. If you canít be bothered to put in the time to consider these things intellectually, then you shouldnít be bothered to reply at all. This also is a great exercise for building your critical attention to detail that youíll need to review your own act and improve the weak points in your own performance.

Lastly, I want to leave everyone with this thought. Magic and its presentation is entertainment. Always be your best, 100% of the time, anytime you are in front of people. Be it at the mall, or on the stage. Like other aspects of entertainment positions are filled based upon who has the best audition, if someone can out perform you, then you are out of a job. Nothing is guaranteed in show business. I want you to be your best. Like the eternal phoenix, constantly rising from the fiery ashes of itís own demise we consistently die to ourselves only to be reborn anew, stronger, and more able to aptly go out and perform. Our acts improve with each time we cast off the shell of who we were and embrace who weíve become. Either get fired up about entertaining people, or just get fired! To quote my chess teacher from high school: ďYour move.Ē
Alex Rapattoni
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Loyal user
Seattle, Wa
229 Posts

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Part 2 was just as great as Part 1! Thanks for sharing!
Weird is part of the job.
William Draven
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Los Angeles, CA
466 Posts

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Thank you very much for your kind words Alex. I'm glad the material was well received and appreciated. It kind of makes the long hours fighting with a train of thought worth while.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ New to magic? Ľ Ľ The Audience Doesn't Care part 2 of 2 (0 Likes)
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