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augiemagic
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So I went out to work today. I haven't done a single street show in almost 2 years. It was a humbling experience. None of my jokes hit. My effects were met with waves of indifference. Small children ran in fright (that one ill call a minor victory.)

But, I got out and did it. I beat my anxiety back far enough to let me do a show. That's one for the "W" column.

I just had to log in and tell someone.

Anybody else come back from a long hiatus and live to tell the tale?
Motley Mage
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Good for you! I am in the process of returning to stage magic after nearly 20 years of "just for friends" performances. I will let you know how that goes!
gallagher
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"...,I got out and did it."
Thumbs up.
That´s what it´s all about.

When I hear such stuff,.. or see such stuff,..
..or when I DO such stuff;
I wonder to myself,
"What is it?,..
what is it,..
that drives us to do it?"

I still don´t really know.
But I´m glad peoples are still doing it.

An Idea,.. or a tip,... or a thought:
Hey look, it isn´t all perfect yet,
so instead of buying films of other folks work,.. or Shows that function,
stick to your guts.
Work out your own material,.
your own Shows,.
your own Pitches.
It´s a slower process,..
but it will take you farther.
,and you´ll grow as a person.

thumbs up,
break a leg.
break a heart.
but never let `em break you.
gallagher.
augiemagic
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Thanks for the replies, guys!

Gallagher - Yeah, I hear what you're saying about doing my own show instead of buying someone else's material. When I first started I was doing my own thing, but someone else (another busker) told me my show basically sucked (Although the term he used was less family-friendly), and that I should check out Kozmo's DVD. I did, and decided to just do Kozmo's show until I learned the ropes.

The unfortunate thing was that mostly all I learned was to parrot. I actually regret performing Kozmo's show as long as I did. Doing something that you know other people already like is addicting. You get all the credit without putting in any of the work. And I had no original show material to show for it. I think performing like that was a large part of what burnt me out, and why I haven't done show for the last two years.

I'll chalk it up to a lesson learned. On the positive side, I've had the feeling of doing great shows before. I know how good it can be, so I have a great target to aim for.
augiemagic
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So I'm just going to keep updating this thread as a sort of ongoing field report. I went back out yesterday and everything went much better. Since I only did one show last week, my goal was to do two. I was splitting pitch with another local who posts on here from time to time, (Mr. Mooncalf).

It took me around 2 hours to get over my performance anxiety/stage fright. I only get it when working on the streets, never in any other venue. (incidentally, that's why I chose to street perform in the first place, because the idea of it gave me anxiety).

The first show was kinda rough, but I had a crowd and they seemed to like it. The second was a little rougher. I got distracted in the middle of my closing routine and completely forgot to do my hat load, then went to reveal a coconut that magically wasn't there. Oops. I played it off though.

After forgetting the hat load, my mentality shifted to "Well, now I need to do one more so I can end on a good note". I was also thinking that since I'd already screwed up a show pretty bad, it could only get better.

It got better. I did four more shows and walked with a total of $61 bucks for the 4 hours that I actually performed. My goal for next weeek is $100. It'll take some doing, but I think it's readily accomplish-able. After my final show, a girl I knew from my freshman year at college (5 years ago) came up to me, shocked to see me after so long. She and her boyfriend took me out for a couple drinks afterward. It was a nice ending to the evening.

I'm still doing a show that is entirely too similar to Kozmo's for my taste, but I have created a plan to work on that. I'm going to use the "Middle" spot in my act as sort of a developmental/experimental slot to work out new material. If it sucks, at least I have a strong closer ready to go. Once I've got a little more material that I feel comfortable performing, I'm going to swap something else in as a closer. Even though I think the chop cup/cups and balls are phenomenal in general, I'd like to do something that (A) Doesn't require a table and (B) Isn't bing done by everyone else.

For about half my shows last night I had decent crowds by the time I'd finished with my 1-coin/wand stuff, so I cut out all the tabled coin magic from the Kozmo opener. Then the show felt too short: the only thing I had left to perform after the coins was the chop cup, and it just didn't feel like enough of a show to get people to dip into their wallets. A couple times I did a cigarette vanish after the coins, and those hats were the largest two of the day. It just felt like a more complete show.

My hat lines were pretty weak and I stumbled over them a bit. I'm not sure how I feel about certain styles of hatting the audience. It seems like if you're too funny with the lines, they don't take you seriously and think they can pay you off with change. On the other hand, being too serious/pushy with them seems to alienate the audience. It's definitely a balancing act.

My to-do list for next week:
1. The Don Driver dollar bill bally. I bought the DVD a couple years back and have never used it, mostly because of stage fright/shyness. getting out in front of the table and doing something terrifies me. That's probably a good reason to start doing it. thus far I feel like most of the crowds I've built have been luck (I've run into people I know multiple times on the streets) or semi-poaching (Mr. Mooncalf finished his show a couple times and graciously told the end-of-show latecomers to stick around for my show afterwards).

2. Fix my hat lines. I like the "hat 3 times" that Kozmo explains in his DVD. Now I just need to make my own hat pitches and figure out where to put them. Since my delivery faltered and was a bit stutter-y I think these lines need more run-throughs. I'm actually not opposed to using the harder style hat lines I've seen some European performers use before, but I think my show needs to be stronger/tighter before I can get away with that.

3. New middle routine. I need to work out a bare-bones routine I can up and running as a new middle trick. Preferably, I'd like to do something that I could eventually use as a closer. The idea is to start with the bare minimum for a complete routine, then use street time to hone the performance into a strong, entertaining piece. I'd like to stick with stuff that fits in the "Commando Show" philosophy. So far I'm considering: $100 bill change, linking rings, a rope routine, some sort of manipulation, cigarette vanish, tossed out deck, and a few others that I can't think of at the moment. Eventually I'd like to have a whole show that I can carry around in my pockets, but play up decently large. This likely wouldn't be a primary show, but a great "Oh wow, there's people here, I bet I could earn some money" type show.

4. Look for a winter pitch to work over christmas break. Never hurts to plan ahead. Kansas city can start to get pretty cold in late september, and I'd like more time to get better.

5. See about working the lanes at a local ren faire. I've worked there a little before, on a sort of "Hey, we have a couple openings on one of our side stages, want to do some shows" basis. They're pretty relaxed about performing "Period" stuff, and I already have a costume. I might be able to get a couple extra weekends of performing.

That's about all I can think of. I have a lot of work to do, but I think I can get to a point where I can call myself a legitimate busker. I'll try to keep updating this thread as stuff comes along. As always, suggestions and advice are always appreciated. thanks!
Motley Mage
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Hey augiemagic! I look forward to reading your ongoing adventures. If you have not already found this thread http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......&forum=6 it is a similar string of posts from a dedicated busker in training in the Atlanta area named Shaun. Would love to see how your progress compares; he hit the pitch a couple of years ago and has been quite fun (and educational) to follow.
troppobob
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G'day Augiemagic

Thanks for so openly sharing yowu journey - I find reading this to be very encouraging in regard to my own performane development.

I am cuurenly travelling in the USA on my way to Magic Live in Vegas. This week we are San Diego I have checked out Balboa Park - La Jolla & Sea Port Village - decided to concentrate on performing at the villagewith my travelling busking show in one small bag no table.

It is exciting & a bit scary doing this a diiferent country with a different approach too humkour - but I am thrilled that it is working
PaulSharke
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I enjoy these journal-type threads. Good luck with your work & development.
ROBERT BLAKE
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Augiemagic I have a question: why do you do the €100,00 bill switch?
why should I give you money when you can make it yourself? (billswitch)
-----------------------------------------------

hatlines: try to be business like when doing the hatlines. step out of your normal presentation so people know this is business.
Mario Morris
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Good point Robert but the proof is in the puding they do still pay, for example I know a number of magicians do misers dream and they still get good hats. I have used a smaller bill mind like a $10 bill switch, in my case Five pounds bill switch to 10 then back again to five. I then give the five to my child vounltear. I onlu have done this when the crowds are huge and I know I am going to have a good return say at a busking festavel.
ROBERT BLAKE
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Marrio, what I like is to have a $10 bill and switch it to 2 $5.- bills and give then one to the child.
augiemagic
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Thanks for the input.

Robert - I like the switch because it is simply a strong piece of magic. I think the audience is smart enough to realize that it's just an illusion. After the initial moment of amazement, people know we're not REALLY magic. However... For those in the audience who might attribute legitimate mystical prowess to my personage, I drop the line "Sadly folks, it is just an illusion. If I could do it for real, I'd work for Wells Fargo... Or some other criminal organization." and I'm sure there are other hat line tie-ins to be made.

Mario - The idea of giving money to the volunteer was why I originally wanted to do the bill change. I haven't had large enough crowds to make it worthwhile yet though.

I've seen the bill change work on the street for a couple different guys, and it always got great reactions. It's a nice piece of magic that plays to a decent sized (but not huge) audience and packs really small. I've also considered doing a signed, borrowed 20, changing it into a 5, then revealing the 20 in an impossible location type of thing. There's a lot to play with. I'm trying to divorce myself from my table and just use a doctors bag or something for a more portable show.

So the quick rundown of my weekend working: first, I did not meet my goal of $100, but I think I could have (Made $80). I had a bar show with the local burlesque group I work with, and didn't get home until 4AM, so I was pretty low energy and hoarse on saturday. I called it a night around 9 PM Saturday, when there were still a couple decent shows to be had. Being low energy also made it a lot harder to stop people (partly because I was warring with myself, trying to shift into outgoing show mode, and my brain and body weren't having it).

Since the shows last week felt a bit short, I added a C&R rope routine and made sure I had smokes for the vanishing cigarette. I'm not happy with the rope routine as is, because currently it relies on too much of the same type of humour throughout, and it doesn't seem to hit very often. the routine just doesn't have oomph. The cigarette though, seems to work really well as a crowd builder, so I've decided to put it in as early as I can possibly do it. I start the routine by bringing up a volunteer and putting a bandana over their hand, then act like I'm gonna stick the cigarette in their hand for the incredible unburnable bandana trick "It's gonna hurt like h***, but the bandana won't burn, and that's the important part." There's a lot of comedy that can be milked from this bit, and I'm still fleshing out the bits and pieces. In the end, I do a classic vanishing cig in bandana, but have the kid wave the wand and then show the bandana empty. Then they get all the credit.

After the cig routine is where I wanted to do the bill change, and give the 5 to the kid for being such a great helper "Kid, you just did one of the most amazing things these people are gonna see all day. I think that's worth at least 5 bucks." Then look knowingly at the audience, pray they get the idea, make my first hat speech, and proceed to my finale. I haven't actually done all this yet, as I'm not comfortable with my bill change yet, but I think it'll be ready for this weekend.

I went out too early Saturday as well. Between 2:30 and 6:30 I was basically wearing myself out for nothing. It was a bit dead, but there were still people out. Undoubtedly it would have been better had I been more active about crowdbuilding. I think that's still my biggest hurdle.

My goals for next week:
1. Get comfortable with the bill bally and actually use it, even if it's just once.
2. Do the bill change after the cigarette routine (I know, Mr. Driver specifically says not to change the bills after doing the bally, and eventually I might switch to doing it that way, but right now I'm not comfortable promising something that I don't deliver.)
3. Work in front of the table more. I tend to hide behind it, and it's a bad habit.
4. Look for somewhere nearer to where I am (Kansas City) that's workable seven days a week. I'm willing to put in the time on pitch, I just need more pitch to put in time on.
5. Better hat lines. I've decided to go with a more serious delivery for these, with a bit of comedy thrown in near the end. I guess the point of these is to make the audience at least a little uncomfortable. Discomfort motivates action, I need to show them that giving me money will relieve their discomfort (Of course, if I make them too uncomfortable, they'll just walk off, Balancing act.)

One of the lines I'm going to try out, though it might not last, is something like (and this will be right after I have 'em cheer if they're having a good time) "Folks, I'm gonna show you my big finale, it's gonna be the best thing you're gonna see all year. After that, I'm gonna ask for money. If you had a great time and liked what you saw, come put FIVE bucks in the hat. However, if you didn't like my show, feel free to leave." then a pregnant pause, then "for those of you who are still here, in Missouri, verbal contracts are legally binding."

I'd also like to try something like "Hey, if you saw me doing this over at a bar, you'd buy me a drink without a second thought. A martini at the Cheesecake Factory costs $7.50. Just like a martini, I've made you laugh maybe even pee yourself a bit. Unlike a martini, you won't get arrested for having me in the car." Or something to that effect.

I think I'm also going to try to tone down some of the more abrasive humor in my show. My bar show on friday, where I did 5 fifteen minute sets (all different material) made me realize that my jokes are a little on the caustic side for family audiences. My lines for the street are still more tame than the bar stuff, but still a bit gruff for midwestern audiences. As a 6'4, 230lb guy who kinda looks intimidating, a little bit of gruff goes a long way. I've got the street tough side, but now I need to add the childlike side (Hat tip to Jimmy Talksalot). I think most of my humor was developed when I was fat with long goofy hair. The same material that was once funny now seems almost like bullying. Or something.

Sorry for the somewhat disorganized rambling. Any input, even if it's "You're wrong, you're stupid, I hope you die in a fire" is appreciated.

Anyone with info on indoor busking, decent every day pitches near the midwest, beating shyness/stage fright, or what women want, your comments are especially appreciated. I plan on buying Bro Paul's X-Marks the spot notes once I'm slightly more cash-laden.
PaulSharke
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You have good self-awareness with regard to how customers will perceive your jokes differently based on your personal appearance. I think that self-awareness will serve you well.
gallagher
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Hey Augie, good reading your stories!
Every corner´s different,.. for everybody else.

hey, you asked about "everyday Pitches in the mid-west".
(hope I´m not blowing anybodies territory here, but...)
,I been spending the past ten days with my daughter in Oklahoma City.
wow(!).
Didn´t see anyone playing(!),.. anywhere,..
but Pitches(!),.... shhhh.

A coupla good spots down on the Promenade, by the Canal.
By the Brickyard, as well.
The town had good vibes,..
and a couple great Shoemakers.

keep going for it,
and give it easy,
gallagher
ROBERT BLAKE
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Quote:
On 2013-08-13 13:20, augiemagic wrote:
Thanks for the input.

One of the lines I'm going to try out, though it might not last, is something like (and this will be right after I have 'em cheer if they're having a good time) "Folks, I'm gonna show you my big finale, it's gonna be the best thing you're gonna see all year. After that, I'm gonna ask for money. If you had a great time and liked what you saw, come put FIVE bucks in the hat. However, if you didn't like my show, feel free to leave." then a pregnant pause, then "for those of you who are still here, in Missouri, verbal contracts are legally binding."

ROBERT BLAKE
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Auggie I would say; if you did not like something please write it down on a $20,00 bill, I will read it tonight.

for those people who don't want to pay .... I have a tip for you ..... now is the best time to go. (don't say anything just look around)
Zuke
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I'm really enjoying following along with your journey. I don't have any advice to give, but I do hope you survive the fire. Smile
augiemagic
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Thanks for the info guys.

Robert - I like those lines.

Gallagher - Thanks! I might come down sometime soon. I'm gonna also check around a couple other places around KC this week, see what's happening where. Since I'm not so good at the crowdbuilding part of things, what other people would find workable might be a bit out of my depth. But, never know until you try I guess...

Zuke - Even without advice, I appreciate the support.

Paul - What happens when I become aware of my self-awareness? Smile
Magician Shaun
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Augiemagic,

As far as hatlines go there are tons of stock lines. They work. That's why they are stock lines. I would like to remind you of something important as far as getting paid goes. Always, always, always, ask for the money and tell them how much. Before you do, get them to admit that your show has value. Get them to equate it to something else that is valuable. How you do that is up to you. One line I use if there are a lot of "Starbucks" types in the crowd is: How many of you guys drink coffee? You drink Starbucks or Caribou? Are you guys having a good time? Everyone having a good time yell 'YEAH'! How many of you guys think I'm as entertaining as a cup of coffee? You guys pay $5 for a cup of coffee huh?"

What that does is first get them to admit that they are having a good time. This is important no matter how you do it. Do it a few different times. It also associates a value, an actual dollar amount that they are agreeing with, to your show. It is also conditioning them to a crowd mentality, where they are doing what they are told and what everyone else is doing.

I also love Kozmo's line, "Kids, remember if your parents don't give you $5 to give to the magic man, it means they don't love you!" It never fails to get a laugh and if you and your audience had a good time, it won't offend either. I always temper that line with, "Kids, I am just kidding, it means they don't love me!"

Another one is: "If you had a good time put $5 in the hat, if you didn't have a good time put $5 in the hat! Remember folks, this is how I make a living."

Sometimes when building a crowd I will talk to them about how honest busking is because they get to see the show first then decide what it is worth, unlike going out to a movie where they pay first.

Make sure that you build a good rapport with the audience throughout the show and then it will be easier to give the more aggressive lines. I always do a bit during my C&B Finale where I have a person choose a cup for me to make all 3 balls appear under. I then go into a 3 line bit where I say: "If I make all 3 balls appear under Timmy's cup, would you guys be impressed? (motion for cheering) Would you guys think that is a GREAT magic trick? (motion for cheering and yeses) Are you guys going to fill my hat with $20 bills? (Some yell yes, others silent) YES, That's the enthusiasm I am looking for!" I then reveal final loads and hat the crowd. You would be surprised how many times I get $20's in the hat because of this.
Motley Mage
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I would like to reiterate what I said earlier. Gr8gorilla (Shaun) is a fairly recent inductee to the street who has very nicely documented his own experience in building some pretty strong chops in the field. Listen to him. I believe he is a strong, wise, up-and-coming performer who had a LOT to offer those of us just jumping into this tough but rewarding arena. Thanks, Shaun. Wish I had time in my Atlanta visit this week to hook up and see your show!
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