, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PhotobucketMagicians in the Philippines, if they are not aware of it, should remember, etch and engrave in their mind an incontrovertible truth about performing magic: magic is a live performing art.

Yes, one can perform magic before video cameras to pre-shoot an act for broadcast on national television or on YouTube.

But television magic is an exception. The default performance mood for magic is before a live audience.

PhotobucketPerforming live means the performer has to constantly prepare for mistakes to happen. Bloopers, blunders and mess-ups are the hallmarks of live performances.  Once they happen—and they do happen even to the best, most seasoned magicians—the performer gets no chance at correcting his mistakes. There’s no rewind, no edit, no “take two”. When it happens, the mistake is there in all its shamefulness for the audience to snicker at.

Of course, some veteran magicians and quick-thinking performers can cover their mistakes so subtly the audience may not be aware something has gone amiss in the show. In fact, magicians watching other magicians often rate their fellow performers’ ability by how skillfully they can wriggle out of bloopers and set their boo-boos aright without making the audience aware that something in the show has gone awry.

Well, magicians who can salvage their shows from slip-ups are rare indeed.  Most of us would prefer not to be caught in embarrassing situations, though.  We’d rather that, in the stage of building a new routine, we anticipate potential problems and have solutions ready to address them if they arise.  We prepare maneuvers to cover our mistakes, and we call those maneuvers “outs”.

As one of those magicians in the Philippines lacking the gift to think on his feet, I prefer planning my show to anticipate possible bungles and accidents. I have a list of the “4 Things to Do to Make Mistakes.”

I’ll share the list to my readers.  I hope you will find some use for it:

1. To increase your chances of messing up your show, Don’t Make a Props Checklist.

Over the years, my show has become bigger.  The props have accumulated inside my roll-on table. I have added more carrying bags and boxes to transport everything I need in my show—props, tools, audio equipment, etc.

To track all these props and equipment, and to make sure I’ve brought everything along, I need to verify them against a checklist.

The trouble is, I’m lazy.  Against my good judgment, I don’t make a checklist.  The result is that, once in a while, I leave behind in the house some important props. When I reach the venue and discover the missing props, I and my whole entourage panic.

The only solution is to leave out from the program an entire routine (which could be as short as five minutes) or a whole sequence (which could be as long as 15 minutes). Just imagine the pressure of contracting a one-hour show but dropping out 15 minutes of it, because you left home some props.

Photobucket2. If you want to sound awful, Skip the Technical Test.

I always test the microphone, the ITouch, the whole audio shebang.

But sometimes I feel complacent and do away with this drill. Every time I omit it during setup, I pay dearly during the show. The microphone squeaks and the ITouch refuses to deliver music. Since my show has intensive musical scoring, an erratic sound output always wreaks havoc on my performance.

3. Allow the Mind to Wander During Set-up.

This is another formula for disaster.  In one show, I was supposed to turn a painting of a dove into a live bird.  However, my assistants and I were distracted during the setup, we forgot to load the dove.

When time came to perform that particular trick, the painting of the dove disappeared but no live dove materialized.  The trick became a “disappearing painting of a dove trick”. It was altogether a different kind of trick from the one we intended to perform.

4. If you want to increase the likelihood of messing up a performance, Practice Just a Bit your new act.

Sometimes I feel overconfident. Trusting too much my years of experience, I sometimes give in to the temptation of winging it on stage.  I practice just a bit a new routine, and then rush it to a live performance.  The result is always awful. Not only the new routine feels bland, it usually lacks impact. Worse, I often drop or flash something during a maiden performance and project myself as a clumsy performer.

PhotobucketSo there. If you want to make mistakes in your shows, follow the tips on the list. They will give you the most embarrassing moments in your life—guaranteed.

Stay magical,