Here’s a cliché in live performances. Magicians and all sorts of live performers—singers, dancers, stand-up comics, etc.—use it to a sickening degree and may not be aware of it.
What is it?
It’s saying “Thank you” to solicit, elicit and prompt applause.
A while ago, I wrote an article titled “Here Are 9 Ways to Get Applause“. I didn’t include the “thank you” stratagem as one of those ways.
Because saying thank you is so easy it’s like cheating. You get the audience to dutifully applaud you just because you say it.
I’m a magician. I cheat a lot. But this kind of cheating is too much for my conscience.
As a result, audiences have learned unknowingly, automatically, sometimes even unconsciously to clap their hands when they hear the performer say “thank you.” Perhaps they have been driven to their wits end and have lost the resolve to forgo clapping their hands after hearing the customary “thank you” countless times.
I must admit that the applause harvested by using “thank you” can mean audience appreciation. But it could also mean something else—say, a sign of relief that a performer who sucks is done with his performance and can henceforth be dispensed with.
However, to the clueless performer who had gotten a round of applause after saying “thank you”, the applause is a sweat sound. For many of them, it doesn’t matter how it was gotten or why it is given. An applause by any other name is still a rose.
Okay, I got my metaphor mixed…and that’s because “thank you” as an applause cue has been misused and got me confused.
But now I must stump my foot on the floor and say, “Enough already of this cliché!”
You see, in the beginning, during the prehistoric era, when cavemen were still grunting their songs, strumming vines instead of ukuleles, dancing bedlam style instead of Gangnam style, live performers would first take a bow at the end of their show. The audience then would applaud. Only then would the artist say “thank you” in gratefulness of the audience’s applause.
Today, modern artists would say thank you to prompt the audience to clap. Only when the audience is clapping would the artists bow.
That is a skewed sequence of the applause-getting protocol. As I said earlier, “thank you” has been misused. It’s been made an applause prompter instead of an expression of gratitude. An artist who has done a good job entertaining the audience should say “thank you” AFTER the applause, not BEFORE.
This idea is so light-years ahead of contemporary thinking that artists all over the world, and some magicians maybe, will not be able to chew, swallow and digest it. Some may be tempted to pelt me with stones and flame me for espousing such a revolutionary thought.
I have two words for them: “I’m just kidding. Thank you.”
Those are five words, not two. You guessed it. I lied…again.
But since I said “thank you”, everybody can now start clapping their hands.
So use it.
If you want to be fancy about your applause cues, here are some tips to help you.