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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Now that’s funny! » » How to break the 4th wall and get them to react? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Thatoldblackmagic
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Hi all,
I was talking with several performers about how to break the 4th wall and get them to react to a stand up show without hiring a warm up act as the big magicians do? In Scotland I find audiences to be really bipolar in reaction 3/4 react well and the other quarter just stare at the same show word for word with no real reaction bar applause. My question is how do YOU get the best responses from your audience and what tips o you suggest for this?
Liam
Scotland's first winner of the Edinburgh International Magic Festival's first place award. ~ Allen Tipton's magic Student. ~ Magic Historian and Collector ~ Built magic for Scotland's top Pantomimes ,Cats ,The Wizard of Oz and a few other shows. ~ As seen on TV theatre and film Smile Aged 17
charliemartin
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Read David Ginn books, he is his own opening act, he gets them laughing and reacting before the "show" starts.
Dannydoyle
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Magic and comedy can be a tough mix. It stems from the necessary ohhh ahhhh moments for you to call yourself a magic show. Often an audience is flabbergasted and dropped jaws is what you get.

If they react 3/4 of the time you may not be as bad off as you think. Let them be an audience.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
bishthemagish
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My suggestion would be if it is a stand up show - open with a trick you can do to music. Ken Brooke opened with the dancing cane. It got him on and gives the audience a moment while the music is going and the cane is dancing to quiet down. And notice that the show is starting.

Then I would suggest do somthing the pulls them in.

I don't do comedy myself - I do humor and I use audience members in situation comedy routines. Lets wrap up these thoughts and look at what I am trying to say. I am my own opening act. I get their attention, draw them in and add humor (so they get a chance to like me). Then I get people up and do situation comedy with a magic routine.

I hope this helps.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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harris
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The more I share me, the more I am able to break the 4th wall.

In the past, I concentrated on the few that were closed off (body language/heckling...etc)

now I can enjoy those that choose to connect, whether it is 2 or 200.

love brother Harris
still 2 old to know it all
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Sealegs
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My first thought on reading your OP is that there ought not to be a 'forth wall' in a conventional comedy stand up/magic show.

I think what you are referring to isn't so much a, 'forth wall', as simply a failure to engage your audience. (or sections of it)

When there's no warm up act (or if there is a warm up or MC but they fail to do the job well) then, as bishthemagish says, you become your own opening act. That is; the start of your spot has to act as your own warm up.

Establishing a connection with the audience at the start of your set is essential. Without it there's no engagement, or point of contact, with the audience and when that happens you vastly increase your odds at failing to register with the crowd.

It sounds to me like you need to find a way to establish this point of contact with the crowd in a way that works for you. You have to find a mechanism or structure to the start of your set that will get them to trust and have confidence in you.... the audience need to feel confident and trust you otherwise they won't relax and let you guide them into your comedy world. In order to let themselves be put in this place they have to see that you are in control and believe that you know what you are doing. (Of course you still have to have the material and be able to deliver it too)

If you can't think of how to go about getting, 'into your act', watch as many comics as you can and see the various ways that they go about it. There are all sorts of possible points of entry and ways to slide into an audiences' confidence and have them feel comfortable with you.

Getting them laughing before the show starts (as charliemartin suggests above) is one possible idea... but beware... if you are obviously going for a laugh you'd better be sure you'll get one. If you don't you'll be in a huge confidence and trust hole from which it will be hard to climb out from.

And I don't think I'm being unkind or disingenuous to suggest that, as successful as David Ginn may be in his own area or work I find it hard to believe that any specific examples from any of his works would be appropriate for a Scottish comedy club crowd.

Another thing to remember is that good comedy comes from repeatedly failing, trying something else and getting better. Recognising there is a problem is the first step, doing something to correct the problem is the second. Repeating this process over and over again is the third.

Keep trying different things and hopefully you'll eventually narrow down what works for you. It's a tough thing to do but then getting to the point where an act is delivering a good reliable comedy product is usually a tough and painful process. Best of luck.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
harris
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One way is to make sure you are not just communicating and watching your hands and the magic happening....

This can off course work, momentarily and if you use it say as a double take, watching the magic...and then "breaking the wall" with a wisely timed comment and satire of an old school manipulator...

Harris
stepping away from the practice mirror.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Thatoldblackmagic
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Great ideas guys Smile Thanks for the help. I have been doing a manip act to open since I was 13 but I think it's time to move on to something more age appropriate, Bowlarama possibly.
Scotland's first winner of the Edinburgh International Magic Festival's first place award. ~ Allen Tipton's magic Student. ~ Magic Historian and Collector ~ Built magic for Scotland's top Pantomimes ,Cats ,The Wizard of Oz and a few other shows. ~ As seen on TV theatre and film Smile Aged 17
Dick Oslund
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The 'key' word is COMMUNICATION!

Too many magicians talk TO or AT their audience. That, MIGHT have worked in VICTORIAN DAYS! (but I rather doubt it!)

A performer today MUST I N V O L V E his audience. Talk WITH the group! Hold a conversation! At first, it may even be necessary to ask questions! --With children, I use simple questions: "What color is the handkerchief? -- Can everyone see the knot in the rope? -- (Holding up a tube or box or ?) Look in the box! What do you see? (Hopefully, they'll respond: "NOTHING!)

I use the ancient G.W. HUNTER "Shoe lace bow knot" (It plays to all ages). In the second phase, after the ends have been passed through to loops, and I've snugged up the knot, I look at one individual (try to pick one who has been smiling and nodding) and ask. "Has that ever happened to you?" (I'm nodding my head.)

I hope this helps!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
magicgeorge
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Neal and Dick make great points.

I discovered a neat trick for making the audience feel involved and getting a few good laughs. After I "discovered" it I then noticed that loads of people already do the same thing.

If you're asking someone a question for a gag or a trick near the start of your act make sure you also get their name (it's just polite anyhow!). Then later in your act you can get a laugh by simply mentioning them.
"..isn't that right, Bob?"
"..Bob's not so sure"
"Hold on, Bob's just explaining that one to his friend.."

It is a bit of a trick and you should try to genuinely engage your audience but it does feel fresh and can work well if used sparingly.

George
jay leslie
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I constantly break the 4th wall using side-comments specific to the actions of volunteers or in the context of self deprecating jokes.
Sealegs
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Re:thatoldblackmagic's comment, "I have been doing a manip act to open since I was 13 but I think it's time to move on to something more age appropriate."

It might have been that as a 13 year old lad this opening's, 'ahh, isn't he good for his age', response endeared you to your (then) audiences and gave you an 'in' with them.

While that might be the case a manip opening to your act need not necessarily be age dependent though.... I think it more likely that rather than being age dependent some sections of your hardened Scottish audiences might well dismiss it as looking old school or dated and not particularly inspiring as an opening for a comedy act. (As you're posting in the comedy section I'm assuming you're wanting to present a comedy act)

But I can think it, along with virtually anything else, does have the potential for being an ideal opener as well.

Of course I don't know your personality or performing style so I have no way to know what approach might work for you... but I can easily someone doing impressive card manips while simultaneously complaining to themselves on mic about how the audience never gives a toss about the hours spent learning these skills and I can see that has the potential to be a funny 'in', or opening, for a comedy magic act.

"...ok here it comes... I throw the fan of cards away and... bang... there's another one... a fan of card at my fingertips from nowhere...that's the last 10 years of my life right there and no one gives a flying toss. I could have been out kicking a ball around or drinking with my mates... but no... I was learning this (another fan) stuff just so I could stand up here and be stared at by a bunch of strangers just willing me to stop."

For the right person that could play well and be funny. Alternatively the same kind of thing but with a more energetic optimistic tone could be tried.... or you could drop it altogether and do something else. Smile
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
superpixel
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A few years ago I started doing stand up (now I'm doing a mix of stand up and magic/comedy) and you really strive to get the audience "in" the performance. Go to open mics if you have them there, or watch comedians interact with audience members on YouTube (but not so much the heckler videos, although those are interesting).

The best comedians are able to work the audience INTO their act. Think of ways to draw them in emotionally. I've also been known to use fire Smile

Great advice already, however -- there's a lot of great clips of magicians drawing in the audience online, too.
-- superpixel = Victor --
harris
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Remembering names is great.

Remembering seeing Doc Eason and his great memory.

Making it personal is helpful, right George?

Harris
still 2 old to know it all
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Dannydoyle
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One major problem with so called comedy magic is delivering the lines of others. Most think because they found it in the comedy magic section it is going to make them a comic magician.

If you are doing the same tricks with the same lines believe me you are not.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
KC Cameron
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Break the 4th wall . . . I am not certain you are using this phrase correctly (as Sealegs points out). My understanding is when in theater, an actor(s) recognizes and possibly interacts with the audience they are "breaking the 4th wall", i.e. the invisible wall between the actors and the audience. Am I wrong?

If this is the "4th wall" you are talking about, well, in MOST cases of comedy magic - or straight stand-up comedy I don't think there SHOULD be one to break.
magicgeorge
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There's always a wall.

Maybe just a small one but if there where no walls at all it would be chaos!
paulapaul
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Sealegs, you get right to the heart of it:

"You have to find a mechanism or structure to the start of your set that will get them to trust and have confidence in you.... the audience need to feel confident and trust you otherwise they won't relax and let you guide them into your comedy world. In order to let themselves be put in this place they have to see that you are in control and believe that you know what you are doing. (Of course you still have to have the material and be able to deliver it too) "

Bravo! Confidence! Trust! Belief that you know what you are doing ... That's the stuff of a great act.

Your later contribution about lines spoken by the manip act were dead-on, too.
In other words, you know your stuff. Color me pleased.
paulapaul
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In fact, several of the contribtors to this thread are simply great. It's tempting to bump this thread a lot. It is so worth reading. Kudos.
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