It kills interest in your speech, if you are an after-dinner speaker. It turns off potential buyers, if you are a sales person. It sends people to dreamland, if you are a product presenter. It bores audiences, if you are mentalist or magician in the Philippines.
A long and winding road could be a beautiful song. It is also good for your health if you travel on it for exercise. But a long and winding performance is awful for magic and mentalism.
In magic and mentalism, you have the buildup (set up) and then the amazing moment (punchline).
Over the years, comedians have honed their skills and taken to heart a revolutionary truth. The shorter the setup, the funnier the punchline. In fact many top flight comedians would not tell a joke that has more than five lines before the punchline. They have learned that long, detailed setups rob the joke of its humor and surprise.
In this MTV era, where crisp and compact entertainment is the norm, every field of entertainment seems to have favored short buildups. Indiana Jones movies, for example, do away with lengthy introductions and lumbering openings. They start with cliffhangers and action-packed scenes that older movies used to have in their climaxes.
And how are magicians and mentalists doing in the face of this trend in entertainment?
They have not experienced the same Epiphany. Some are still stuck in the long-and-winding-buildup era.
In some cases, it’s not the fault of the performers that a number of tricks take a giant buildup before it reaches its climax. It’s just the nature of the beast that some tricks need an elaborate buildup to have an entertaining resolution.
However, this structural inadequacy could be remedied by more creative thinking and merciless pruning of the script. This means that, no matter what you say, the buildup of a trick can be shortened to make the performance crispier and brisker.
My rule of thumb is this: if I don’t reach a climax (or mini climax) within five minutes of my magic performance, the trick direly needs a shorter buildup.
Let me put it another way: if no magic happens, or if you serve no funny stuff to crack the audience, within five minutes, then you are probably droning on and on about something boring.
The audience doesn’t want to hear your eloquence. They want to see wonder
If they wanted to hear eloquence, they would have gone to Congress and listen to lawmakers orate.