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She asked me how I would like to be introduced when time comes for me to perform.
I gave her a big smile and said, “Just say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Leodini…’ or ‘A round of applause for the magic of Leodini…’ “
“Yup, that’s it. Make it as simple as you can.”
“You don’t want me to embroider your intro with, say, your accomplishments? Awards?”
“Maybe you would like me to say something about your show—like it is side-splitting comedy or it is a mind-boggling act.”
“No, don’t do that.”
“Why?” she asked, unable to contain her curiosity.
My answer to her is basically what follows. I choose to rephrase what I told her, because I’m a better writer than a speaker. Though I think she got my point, the words I used would not read as well as the way I said them.
I used to spend long hours to compose my introduction. I even got to the point where I brought with me a printed copy of my elegant introduction. This comprises three to four paragraphs of my biography, plus my accomplishments, awards and affiliations. I would give it to the party host or to the MC before my part in the program, so she could introduce me exactly the way I wanted to be introduced.
I don’t do that anymore. A long introduction not only bores the audience, it also slows down my show even before it has started. Instead of heightening expectations of my entrance, it dissipates interest. People fidget on their seats waiting for me to make my entrance, while the MC ticks off a litany of my credentials. At last, when I come on stage, I feel a certain coldness in the way the audience greets me instead of the warmth I expect to bask in.
I think the situation is like a drumroll. When I want to build up a magical effect that is about to happen, I ask for it. The drumroll is about 10 seconds. When the magic happens, the audience greets it enthusiastically, thanks to the drumroll which heightened their anticipation of the magical event.
However, if you make the drumroll play longer, say, 20 seconds, the wait for the magic to happen will seem interminable. When at last it happens, the magic no longer has the same impact as when the wait is shorter, because by then audience interest has waned somewhat.
Long introductions suffer the same fate. The longer it is, the more it tires the audience and the more it potentially kills expectation of a good time with the performer. For this reason, I prefer to have a pithy introduction.
Now when it comes to embroidered or hyped-up introduction, I shun it all the more. I think doing so raises everybody’s expectation so high that it is difficult to live up to it during the one-hour allotted for me to show what I’ve got.
I have been to shows where the magician is introduced as “The comedy magic of Mr. Hoho the Amazing.” His show has comedy, but the funny parts are few and far in between. The result? The audience was not entirely satisfied with his program. Many expected more laughs-per-minute, because he was billed as a comedy performer.
However, if the same magician did not mention in the introduction that he was doing comedy, he would have satisfied the audience with his show. Since the audience was not expecting a comedy act, the funny parts that punctuated his program, scarce though they may be, were enough to exceed their expectations.
So going back to the party host’s question “Why?”…
My answer to her was this: “Make your intro of me as simple as you can. Lower the audience’s expectations, so I can easily exceed it.”
Is this a form of cheating or what?
The answer is “or what”.