I have been musing over this thought for quite some time now. It has led me to the conclusion that an entertaining magic performance does not guaranty a successful show. The performer or his show, no matter how entertaining, can flop if the magician fails to attract and keep the audience’s focus on his performance.
This thought came unbidden into my mind after a banquet performance where I gave 120% of myself and still failed to get the right amount of applause, laughter and appreciation I wanted.
The reason? The organizer put me on while the audience was still eating. The clinking forks against plates, waiters darting in and out of the kitchen, people talking—they drowned my voice and distracted everybody.
While I believe that an entertaining act can by itself attract attention, it is not enough to rely on it in difficult performing conditions. In rowdy situations like bars and restaurants when folks are eating, drinking, dancing or talking, a Pinoy magician needs more powerful tools to get everyone’s focus.
In paid performances, where people buy tickets to watch a show, the performer has an edge. The audience comes to the show for the sole purpose of watching. An entertaining program is all one needs to get the audience’s attention.
In other venues, however, an entertaining program may need some attention -getting devices to compel people to watch the show, so they can judge for themselves if the show is entertaining or not.
Here are some attention-getting devices that you may use to get people’s attention. Use whatever is appropriate for your particular performing condition:
1.Sound – A loud sound usually gets and holds people’s attention. The rule is, the louder the sound, the more people sit up to watch. Thus it will be of great help, specially when performing for a large crowd in a large venue, for the performer to use some type of voice amplification device. People in the know usually call this device a microphone.
Under sound, there are many sub-categories of attention-getting devices. Here are the most common: music, explosion, special sound effects, pre-show announcements, and introduction by the MC.
2. Lights – Special lighting effects not only can help the magician hide techniques and gimmicks but they also can call attention to the performance. For close-up performances, a display of little fireworks (flash paper, string, smoke) or portable lighting effects (Fism flash) not only adds oomph to the effect but also rivets people’s attention to the performance. A caveat, though. Don’t use too much smoke and light to the point that you smother the magical effect with dazzling special effects.
3. Colors – A burst of colors on stage can hold the attention of even those with the most severe attention deficit disorder in the audience. It will do the performer well if he uses silks of various colors and props resplendent in their designs. They need not be garishly painted, only that they be in attractive colors. If the performer can produce a rainbow on stage, that magical effect would surely hold everybody’s attention.
4. Size – The rule is, the larger the object the more compelling it is to watch. Producing an elephant onstage is more attention compelling than producing a flea. In close-up situations, manipulating with jumbo coins can hold the attention of spectators more efficiently than one-centavo coins. If you want to be spectacular, go big.
5. Sex – Parade beautiful ladies in skimpy clothes and you are assured people will watch your show. Even drunk customers will take huge efforts to focus their bleary eyes on the performance if there are beautiful girls on stage.
So bring beautiful ladies in skimpy clothes when performing for attention-challenged audiences. If you can’t bring live girls, then bring their pictures or posters. What the heck, the drunks wouldn’t know the difference anyway.