For this reason, stand-up comics work hard onstage to get as many laughs per minute.
Singers sing their lungs out to almost bursting point to get a huge applause.
Dramatic actors get into their characters to wring tears from the eyes of the viewers.
Ballet dancers twirl gracefully on stage to get a standing ovation at the end of their performance.
Basketball players leap in the air to dunk the ball into the ring not only to score points but to harvest a roar of appreciation from the bleachers.
Magicians enchant their audience with mind-boggling impossibilities—so they can be contented with what?
Yes, silence, as in no reactions. Nada. Zilch.
While other artists and live performers work for more palpable reactions like laughter, applause and standing ovation, some magicians are happy with silence. To them, silence—which they usually call “stunned silence”—is an excellent audience reaction.
Only in magic where the performer gets a high from an apathetic audience that is as numb as cadavers, whose sepulchral silence inspires confidence and makes the performer proud of themselves.
Only in magic where a kind of hushed demeanor and YouTube-on-mute disposition are considered a form of appreciation for the performer’s non-talent.
In other arts, performers take non-reactions as signs of boorishness. Or as an unambiguous indication of incompetence.
Not in magic. In magic apathy is okay. It is so okay the magician would brag at the next club meeting that he “slayed” his audience with an ambitious card routine and stunned them into silence.
Why he could not think of silence as a sign of his inability to connect with his audience is beyond me.
While it is true that there is such nebulous thing as “stunned silence”, this usually lasts only about five seconds. An astonished audience may fall into a five-second silence, but after that mark audience members start to rustle, murmur and give scatter applause that increases in crescendo and grows into an uproarious ovation.
That is the good “stunned silence”.
However, like cholesterol, there is a bad “stunned silence.”
It is when the audience meets a magician’s 21 Card Trick with complete silence. The completeness of the silence is interminable. It lasts forever, not just five seconds. And it grows colder and colder after each passing second.
When such thing happens, the magician is said to have killed the audience in a literal way. Unbeknownst to him, the audience would rather have killed themselves through the Japanese suicide process called hara-kiri, so they could be spared from watching a lousy magic trick.
So Leodini’s tip today is this: don’t be contented with stunned silence. Go for the jugular. Work for applause, laughs and roars of appreciation. Gun for palpable and unmistakable audience reactions, so there is no doubt in your mind how well your magic performance has affected people’s lives.