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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Table hoppers & party strollers » » Approaching strangers... (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

illusionistaxe
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Hi guys,

One big hurdle in building our magic is finding and approaching people. Once you master this, you could be a professional street performer! Imagine how good your life could be, if you get so many strangers every day, every week and every month to watch you in action! BLISS!

The Hurdle:

I have been a hobbyist and a street performer for 7 years and then I got into professional full time job as a close up illusionist in Carnival Cruise Lines for 2 years. Totally 9 years now. So, I found out the difference in street and professional close up magic. Difference is presentation, obviously.

In street magic, I noticed that you can't fully concentrate on your presentation, as it's a place where you find it hard to maintain your audience's attention. So, you need to cut short as much as possible, on your talking. Street magic is a casual performance and professional close up magic is formal performance. I like the latter, to be honest.

Having said that, this is how I approach a random crowd.

I never ask people, if they want to see some magic. Because if I do, they would be obliged to say yes even if they don't want to and also most of the times they will say NO. Plus, they might have not seen a close up magic before and their previous experience with a magician would have been bad.

Also, I observe people to know if they are free to be my spectators. I never approach somebody who is busy, who walks fast, who talks over the phone, who is having a rough expression on his/her face etc. Common sense.

1. Ask for directions

People like to help people find directions. Anybody can have an excuse to talk to anybody using this. Once they start giving me directions, in the middle, I say "wait!" and look into thin air and extend my hand, giving them enough time to register my apparently empty hand, and I grab a coin from thin air. This creates a funny look on their faces! Smile

At this point, they don't understand what's happening. Before they get time to think I am a freak, I pass the coin to them, asking if it's theirs (my expression full of shock) and when they get their hand close to get the coin, it's vanished and it pops into my other hand. Even I look surprised at what just happened. This helps them get comfortable with me.

If they are comfortable by now, then I proceed with my one coin routine, ending it really quick. I then move on to my next effect.

If they still feel uncomfortable, then I directly introduce myself and tell them that I am the entertainer working for the mall. I ask their names and then I ask them to make sure the coin is okay and I proceed with my routine. (I don't give them much time to think)

2. Sir, you dropped a coin

This is very direct. Probably many magicians use this as an excuse to start off. I use this approach, when people are casually walking, doing window shopping. haha. Just like before, I pretend to pass the coin and etc etc.

3. Do you have change?

This is my favourites. I ask for a change. Whatever they say, I ask them "No no....wait....I needed change for...." I do the bill switch "...a 100?". At this point, they are like "What?!". Then, I continue "....or it would be more helpful if you could give me a change for a 500?". I do the double bill switch actually. By this time they are gobsmacked! LOVE IT!

Then I proceed to say "Hello" with a big smile and tell them doing magic is my hobby and I directly jump to my next question "Do you play cards?"
Again, I never ask, "Do you wanna see a magic?"

4. Note Float

I look for a good spot and stand there levitating an object like banknote or a piece of paper etc. It's unavoidable by people. They stop and watch in wonder. And you can imagine what's next.

5. Friends

I ask my friends to pop over to the mall on a weekend and have food at food court. They are seated and I approach them, pretending to be a stranger. I perform and as promised, they give huge reactions (even if they didn't like my magic Smile). This makes the neighbouring tables curious. I used to do this in the cruise ship. two groups of my stooges on either ends of the dining room, helping me get the crowd. Smile

occasionally somebody doesn't cooperate, but that's okay. I apologise, wish them a good day and walk to my next target. Take things lightly. Not all the people are the same. Hope this information helped you. I'll soon come up with more approaches. If you have some, you can share them here. I would be pleased to learn. Cheers Smile

NOTE: Confidence is the key. The more confident you are, the more comfortable they will feel. If you have no confidence, either they will think you are a con man trying to cheat them or the situation will get uncomfortable. It's your job to make the situation comfortable.

Illusionist Axe
Bangalore, India.
"You have always failed, until you try"
S2000magician
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It helps if you're an extrovert, or if you've learned to behave like an extrovert.

I don't perform on the street, and in the situations where I've been hired to perform I always ask if the people I approach like magic. (Yes, that's subtlety different than asking if they'd like to see some magic; it accomplishes the goal.) I believe that if I were performing on the street, I'd follow the same approach, but that's speculative at best.
illusionistaxe
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Yep,I am one of those who have learnt to behave like an extrovert. I am an ambivert. So, it wasn't that tough to learn. Yes, "Do you like magic?" would be a good question. Reminds me of something. In the cruise ship, I used to ask them "Would you like to see something really amazing?", they say yes and I am like "You are already looking at it"! Smile gets good laugh.
Gary T.
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When I do "street magic" in the way your using the term, which I love but I also love busking so I don't usually call it street magic anymore. I just ask if I can show them something, it's an odd approach because people don't know what to expect and you can often watch the weirdest ideas pop into their head, you know, stranger walking up and asking to "show them something" but it gets them to pay attention. then I do something like 2cm because it's not just instant, it gives a minute leading up to the magic, because those who think it's weird will relax a little bit when they figure out it's a magic trick, they have a second to register it as a magic trick in that time most people are thinking great this is gonna be lame, my uncle does card tricks bla bla bla, and then just as that's settling in their mind BAM, I knock it out of there with the revelation in the trick I'm doing. then as for how long I perform, that depends, I've had times where I've gathered a crowd, expecially when I approach a group vs a person, a crowd draws a crowd after all, and I'll do magic for 10 minutes or more, or times when the persons just not that into it and I wrap it up pretty quickly, thank them for their time, and we go our separate ways
illusionistaxe
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Hmmm...interesting. I noticed that culture also matters. Where you are living, the social rules might be different. For example, in India, people don't smile at strangers and also don't talk unless there is a genuine reason. So, here I cant walk up to someone and say "Hey would you like to see some magic?". They will think I am a lunatic! haha. In US as well, inspite of people being socially approachable, they think it's weird, as you said. Doesn't suit my style I guess.
MikeTheKid
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Its all depend on the situation and the group of people you are approaching.

I have met nice people, and mean people Smile
---------------------------------------------



Magic is a performing art that entertains an audience by creating illusions of seemingly impossible....

www.mikeliumagic.com
Sam Hagen
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Interesting tips, indeed! Would love to try some of them. Smile

Also, when performing street magic, do you wonder around looking for the "right" people to perform or just blindly go for anyone? Have you ever "challenged" yourself by approaching "difficult" groups?

When you practiced your magic on the street, do you have a friend or two to accompany or do you just go all alone by yourself?

SH
May you live in interesting times.
Rocky
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I wonder if this approach would work for ventriloquists?

I think the public may be yearning for other types of unexpected,in your face performances from random strangers on the street.
0pus
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Like a human statue who accosts you, yells, "Look at me - I'm a statue!" and then strikes a pose within 6 inches of your face.

What would be more entertaining than that?
Rocky
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Quote:
On Sep 4, 2015, 0pus wrote:
Like a human statue who accosts you, yells, "Look at me - I'm a statue!" and then strikes a pose within 6 inches of your face.

What would be more entertaining than that?


Word.
bigfoot
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I find that approaching people on foot makes a much better impression than flying up on them in my car and locking the breaks up at the last second.
Andrew James
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I have found that I have a hard time with this (approaching people/ tables) for the first couple tables every night but then it goes away after that. I am pretty new to this type of performing so I hope it goes away.
Dannydoyle
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Quote:
On Sep 12, 2015, Andrew James wrote:
I have found that I have a hard time with this (approaching people/ tables) for the first couple tables every night but then it goes away after that. I am pretty new to this type of performing so I hope it goes away.


This was always how I felt.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
bigfoot
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2015, Dannydoyle wrote:
Quote:
On Sep 12, 2015, Andrew James wrote:
I have found that I have a hard time with this (approaching people/ tables) for the first couple tables every night but then it goes away after that. I am pretty new to this type of performing so I hope it goes away.


This was always how I felt.


Maybe this is the mental equivalent to stretching before you jog.
Dannydoyle
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Probably true.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
MeetMagicMike
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Yeah I have the exact same feeling. Self conscious when I first get to work and then more comfortable after a few tables.

When I was younger I walked on stilts. I was always petrified when I was sitting on my parents roof and had just strapped them on. The first few steps were terrifying and then it would pass. Really a good lesson about paying attention to your "heart" but not letting it over-rule your brain.
Magic Mike

MeetMagicMike.com



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