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Profile of trampabroad
Hi all,

So my friend and I are putting together our first magic show, to be performed for a cosmetic company in a Chinese mall.

Only problem is:
(1) all the spectators are Chinese;
(2) We are not native speakers. We speak decent Chinese for everyday situations, but when it comes to delivering puns and punchlines and witty asides for misdirection I suspect we may be over our heads.

Anyone ever encountered this kind of problem?
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Inner circle
Mallorca (Spain)
5943 Posts

Profile of george1953
I live and work in Spain and work to English , Spanish , German and lately Russian audiences. Although my Spanish is good the humour is completely different. You have to really understand the different cultures. I have lived here for over 30 years and still struggle when it comes to comedy.
By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail.
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Inner circle
1877 Posts

Profile of Anatole
The original post was on August 1. When was the performance slated for and how did it go (assuming it has already occurred).

Jokes and puns don't always translate well from one language to another. In a situation with non-English speakers, it would probably be better to use situational comedy rather than verbal comedy. Also, you don't mention whether the audience would have been speakers of Mandarin or Cantonese.

Horace Bennett's rope routine "Nightmare in the Spaghetti Factory" might have been a good choice since noodle dishes were invented in China and brought to Italy by Marco Polo.

I used to do a Chinese New Year magic show and used tricks like Joanne the Duck and covered her eyes when cards were selected and shown around because I called her a "Peking duck." But again, that pun would likely not translate to Chinese well since Peking in Mandarin is Beijing. Tricks with paper would have been good because paper was invented in China.

"Six Card Repeat" would have been a possibility since it wouldn't be hard to learn the numbers from 1 to 6 in either Cantonese or Mandarin. You could maybe also do the Linking Rings, again counting the rings in Chinese.

You could probably find some Chinese coins at a coin shop for some coin magic. The coins with a hole in the center would be great for a "coin off shoelace" effect.

Silk was another Chinese invention, so any silk tricks or productions would have been appropriate. A Rice Dragon Silk would have been a crowd pleaser since the dragon displayed on those silks is a Chinese dragon rather than a European dragon.

Chinese restaurants have paper Chinese Zodiac placemats or napkins that could maybe be used for a torn-and-restored effect. Many cities have Chinese gift/novelty shops that you could visit to look for ideas.

----- Sonny
----- Sonny Narvaez
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Stamford, England
56 Posts

Profile of Hydrostevo
I work across Europe with my day job and have a similar problem. I get round it by lots of mime and keeping the tricks very simple and direct. I am working on a more involved mentalisum Equivoque using small flash cards in the native language. I will let you know how it goes Smile
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