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NYCTwister
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...it's how you do it.
I've always believed this to be true and today I witnessed something that cemented it in my mind forever.

I busk balloons in Central Park, at first part-time, now pretty much full-time as a way to make money and to get myself out there as I re-establish myself as a kids entertainer.

There is a guy who does a comedy juggling routine and has been for, well forever. The same routine over and over and he of course has it down cold.
Even as a layman juggler I can tell that his skill is minimal. He does some hat tricks while building an audience. Then he does that thing with 2 sticks connected by a string and a thimble looking thing, some diablo moves and simple juggling. He can barely do 4 balls. He is however very funny, ad libs well and keeps the crowd engaged.
Another thing I've learned from him is that before he does his last bit he makes it clear to the crowd, in a funny way, that he isn't paid by the park and that he expects them to pay him. Then he finishes and passes the hat. From a quick glance he probably does between 70 and 100 per hat and does about 4 shows a day.
Today, after a quick bathroom break, I came back to find a new juggler had set up near where I was working and was surrounded by one of the many YMCA camps that come to the park zoo on weekdays. He had this huge box set up for tips with a one dollar bill taped to it.
To say the least he was impressive. Five clubs, Eight(!) balls, many difficult moves with the devil sticks, various balancing tricks. He could do it all.
The thing is he did every thing in silence, relying on what he thought were funny facial expressions to get a reaction. Even between routines he never spoke. After every routine he bowed deeply. When he was finished he bowed in exactly the same way and stood there kind of glancing at the box. Finally one of the camp counselors realizing the show was over threw in a dollar. A few of the kids threw in some quarters. These are free camps, mostly for inner city kids so they hold onto any money they have for dear life. The real families who were at the edge of the crowd just wandered off even they were applauding wildly during the show.
During a break in my action I went over and introduced myself, saying that I hoped he wasn't put out by my being there, explaining that I'd been there for hours and had just gone to the bathroom. He was kind of aloof remarking that he'd been doing this for over twenty(!) years full time.
My line started up again so I went about my business. Out of the corner of my eye I watched him stand there occasionally making these large gestures, trying to attract attention, NEVER speaking a word.
Later, during a break in the action I attempted to strike up a conversation and I asked him why he didn't do more to build a crowd and why he wasn't more aggressive in passing the hat.
He got a bit defensive, repeating his twenty years experience and said he was moving to another, better part of the park.
After I finished I passed him on the way out. He was lying on his back balancing a bottle of water on top of a stick juggling three balls at the same time! He was completely by himself.
The point I took away from this is that being entertaining is FAR superior to pure technical skill with no personality.
This is important to me since I'm working on a new kids magic routine which I plan to test out in the park starting next weekend. If I had any doubts about the difference between being entertaining with less than technically demanding tricks or being mystifying they are gone for good
I know that being a kids magician doesn't require that much skill it's just that I sometime feel that maybe I should try to do tricks that need a greater level of skill. If just for my own ego.
Anyway, just my 222 cents.
If you need fear to enforce your beliefs, then your beliefs are worthless.
MagiCol
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Hey, thanks for sharing your observation of the two jugglers' approach to presentation. I have a saying "I am my Show." the Show doesn't centre on the tricks you do, but on YOU. So we need to be really switched on to being a good actor, a good improvise artist who can go with the flow yet control it too.
I use balloon twisting to bring in the bulk of my money but it's the magic that I love more. I live 3/4 hour from my pitch and figure that travel costs are some $80 an outing. So that's quite a bit of money to have to raise before I break even on transport alone. How come $80. Because transport is not merely the cost of fuel. One day I'll have to replace my vehicle...

"as I re-establish myself as a kids entertainer." Have you thought of putting a hole through your business card and working it onto your balloon models or balloon stick or on your ballon dog's lead. An idea: make a heart flower - a 260 with a three-loop at one end for the sepals/petals on the stalk and tie a 6 inch heart balloon [red is favourite]. I find it sells very well.
The presentation makes the magic.
Yellowcustard
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This is a great example of something that we all seem to know yet over look. I love the fact you managed to get two juggles on the same day in the same place. This all makes this great example.

The first guy is obliviously more entertaining and connects with the crowd. A point I like to make is on the hat line. My street routine has been the same for about 9 months. One thing I really worked on is the hat line. From my notes taken I noticed my total taken go up. I have got to the point were I can make the same on a bad day as I could on a good day 9 months ago.

Other things also happened that time the show is just smoother. I also added multiplying bannanas which helps to build a crowd, I also just take more time building edge before cracking in to hte show.

Grat post and just my few comments on it
Enjoy your magic,

and let others enjoy it as well!
NYCTwister
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Hi again,

MagiCol I actually did put my business card in my sculptures at first but stopped when I found quite a few on the ground. They're cheap, $155 for 5000 2 side color. but still. Also the park police are sketchy and I don't want to give the occasional hard liner a reason to hassle me.
I hadn't thought of punching a hole though.
My particular style is to make each child the center of attention. Kind of like a mini-show. I'm a natural goof ball and a bit of a show off so I tend to make larger stuff, 350's etc. which no one else does. The kids like it, the parents are impressed and I don't get bored. What I do is after getting the tip I'll hand the card to the parent and say "here's your receipt" or some such nonsense. They seem surprised to get a card since apparently most buskers don't give out cards. My goal is to transition to doing private shows as soon as possible. The money is good busking but when January comes I don't know how easy it will be.

I'd like your opinion on a couple of ideas I had for when I try my show. I'm going to try handing out tickets! I'm going to make up a double sided flyer on which I'll be able to fit 8 "VIP tickets" which I can cut up. Then I'll estimate when the next show will start and go around handing them out with as much fanfare as possible. Each one will have the ticket info (maybe a price of $1,000,000 or something goofy and on the back will be my contact info. Working a park is different than the street I've found, in that parents aren't in such a rush to get anywhere since they came to the park for a day out with their kids.
Another thought I had is to twist a top hat from balloons to collect the money. I can wedge my business cards into the spaces. When I do my tip pitch before the last trick I'll point out that coins will fall out so it's better to put bills.
One other thing which I got from Benji Bruce ( I signed up for his free stuff and I got the idea from one of his constant emails.) During my opening schtick I'll remark that what I'm going to do is just a small sample of what I do during my private shows in peoples homes. Hopefully this will have some stick around and ask me more about what I do.

What do you think? Too complicated? Just too much in general?

I posted this a while ago maybe it will give you a better idea of where I'm coming from/at/hopefully going to. I really need all the advice I can get from the veterans here

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/searc......=8041576

I really try to make short posts but it seems I can't help but run off at the mouth. Apologies.
If you need fear to enforce your beliefs, then your beliefs are worthless.
Eric Evans
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Magicol, while your ticket idea is very good and would probably work at a festival, the street is a quick, short shot.

A simple, straightforward you, is always the best approach.

As to the topic here, unless you engrave works of art, there isn't that much impressive about raw skill. If you possess it, great. You still need to present it, so that they realize it.

I suspect this second juggler was from another country. Otherwise, 20 years on the street would have taught him as much.
NYCTwister
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OP here.

I'll be doing it in Central Park. So it's a little different from the street. People can sit and stay a while. I'll try it and see how it goes.

As for the juggler he seemed to be American. How he could live on what he took in is beyond me. I'm a bit skeptical about the "full time" thing but, whatever.
I think he was like some magicians I know who get annoyed at the audience when they aren't appreciated for their technical skill. I've thought that strange since the skill part is not visible to the audience. Except for flourishes. I don't think that most spectators really know or care how much skill is involved. They just know if they've been amazed and entertained.
If you need fear to enforce your beliefs, then your beliefs are worthless.
plink
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I'm not a busker, but often do balloons at various public affairs. Would a sign/poster/banner be useful for getting out the idea that you do private shows? I've used signs on poles like you might hang a bird feeder on. Have often used a homemade easel/sandwich board. This is extra stuff to carry so I'm not sure a true busker would want to bother with it or if it would do the job.
imgic
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As I've always told folks..."It's not how well you do something; it's how good you look doing it."
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Stperformer
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Quote:
On 2013-08-03 09:12, imgic wrote:
As I've always told folks..."It's not how well you do something; it's how good you look doing it."


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97mAuo3HCzU

Start watching at 30 secs......I guarantee you'll watch it to the end Smile
gallagher
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I understand the picture being painted here,.. and well,...
remember;
Motivations,.. of the Performance.
Satisfaction,... of the Performer.

it´s sometimes HARD to believe; but some folks,
really ARE going for something different.
It can be a painful experience,..
to go thru,..
to watch.

I guess happiness comes from accepting
"what we want to do",..
"what we can do",...
"what we´re aloud to do",
,.... "and what we have to do."

giving it easy,
gallagher.
ed rhodes
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One wonders how Jeff Sheridan managed it.

I know I couldn't do a silent act and attract any serious crowd.
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche
Zuke
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Quote:
On 2013-08-03 09:54, Stperformer wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-08-03 09:12, imgic wrote:
As I've always told folks..."It's not how well you do something; it's how good you look doing it."


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97mAuo3HCzU

Start watching at 30 secs......I guarantee you'll watch it to the end Smile


Forgive me for going completely off topic for a second...

That video was fantastic but god cameramen annoy me. She's constantly doing amazing intricate things with multiple rings which are just OUT OF SHOT because they're doing close ups of her facial expression! Then when she's juggling they shoot it from directly above! WTF?!?!

Dear cameramen everywhere, artists (ie. dancers, jugglers, site acts) choreograph their routines to be seen in full by an audience in front of them so for god's sake stop zooming in, shooting from above, swirling around and filming from under they're asses. THEY are the artists NOT YOU!

Here endeth the rant. Smile
jakeg
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Quote:
On 2013-08-02 20:54, NYCTwister wrote:
I know that being a kids magician doesn't require that much skill it's just that I sometime feel that maybe I should try to do tricks that need a greater level of skill. If just for my own ego.
Anyway, just my 222 cents.


If you really feel that way about kids magicians, maybe you should try something else.
It takes a lot of skill to earn a living in any form of entertainment.
NYCTwister
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OP here,

jakeg I wasn't speaking about the amount of skill involved insofar as being a kids entertainer. Quite the contrary. Although I am getting back I do have hundreds of shows under my belt and I know how difficult, perhaps more difficult, it is to entertain children. I was speaking of the pure technical skill required to do the types of tricks involved, which is considerably less than many other forms of magic.
I consider being a comedy kids entertainer to be one of the hardest forms of entertainment since your audience operates at a completely different level of maturity and awareness. In fact an audience of kids often has multiple levels of maturity that has to be dealt with, increasing the difficulty.
I don't know why you took that one line so far out of context. I hope this explains it.

Dan
If you need fear to enforce your beliefs, then your beliefs are worthless.
ed rhodes
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Quote:
On 2013-08-04 17:29, Zuke wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-08-03 09:54, Stperformer wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-08-03 09:12, imgic wrote:
As I've always told folks..."It's not how well you do something; it's how good you look doing it."


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97mAuo3HCzU

Start watching at 30 secs......I guarantee you'll watch it to the end Smile


Forgive me for going completely off topic for a second...

That video was fantastic but god cameramen annoy me. She's constantly doing amazing intricate things with multiple rings which are just OUT OF SHOT because they're doing close ups of her facial expression! Then when she's juggling they shoot it from directly above! WTF?!?!

Dear cameramen everywhere, artists (ie. dancers, jugglers, site acts) choreograph their routines to be seen in full by an audience in front of them so for god's sake stop zooming in, shooting from above, swirling around and filming from under they're asses. THEY are the artists NOT YOU!

Here endeth the rant. Smile


That sound you hear is the shade of Fred Astaire shouting; "AMEN, brother!" He fought to keep the cinematographer from playing games during his dance routines!
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche
gomerel
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Thanks, NYCTwister. Well put.

I have realized that I am a comedian who can do some tricks. Strictly amateur. It's just a weekend gig during the summer, at a reenactment event. Mostly self working tricks. But I frittered away my college career studying theater. Never used it much until now.

There is another magician in the area, a professional. Infinitely more skilled at magic. But . . . IMHO not nearly as skilled at performing. He seems to be struggling to make a living.
Eric Evans
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I think it was something along the lines of, "give the lady what she wants!".

It was uttered by P.T. Barnum, perhaps the most prolific source of wise mutterings concerning entertainment.

As another good friend once told me, THEY have the monopoly. Either you do what they want to see, or you don't do it for very long. I'm paraphrasing but that's the gist of his remarks.

So, if you have something you must do because you must do it (regardless of how your audience feels about it), the trick is finding a way to do it so they can appreciate it.

Anyone/everyone can learn how to do that faster on the street than any other place I know.
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