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A singer can entertain even if his audience is not paying close attention. People can be eating dinner or drinking alcohol or talking loudly, but a singer can still croon songs for them and feel appreciated.
Not so magicians. They can’t entertain with magic if their audience is not watching closely. Magic has no effect, let alone impact, on people who are eating, talking or occupied with something else.
At a dinner party, people who are engaged in conversation may appreciate a singer performing in the background. Though the song is only in the periphery of their attention, they will still enjoy it being played in the background.
Not so with magic. To thoroughly enjoy magic, and be amazed by it, people should be watching it closely. They should follow the progression of the trick.
Say, a magician shows a white handkerchief proving it empty and devoid of trickery. In the next instant, he produces a white dove from it.
Not a difficult trick to execute on the part of the magician, but incomprehensible on the part of someone in the audience who is distracted during the part when the magician makes a fuss about the empty handkerchief. When that person focuses on the performance again and catches the part of the production of the bird from the handkerchief, he is not amazed because he did not see the part where the handkerchief was shown beforehand to be empty.
For this reason, singers can belt songs in the background and a string quartet can play Beethoven above the din of conversation, yet still make people enjoy their pieces. But a magician can’t produce a rabbit and amaze an audience who is not taking notice of his performance.
For me, one of the most difficult audiences to please with magic is one that is partaking of its dinner. This type of audience is second only to an audience drinking alcohol, which is the most difficult to perform for, in my opinion.
To avoid the organizer from making the mistake of putting me on while the guests are eating their meal, I always stipulate in my Performance Agreement that my show will be scheduled in the program either before or after eating time.
I recently was hired for a birthday party where the party host clearly did not understand the ways of a magician. After annoucing over the microphone that the buffet table was open, she rushed to me and told me to start my show.
I told her I don’t perform while people are still eating, so we have to wait for the guests to finish their food.
She seemed annoyed that I would not follow the program and bluffed me that it was the birthday mom’s wish for the show to start already, as the party was running late.
Since I had a no-show-while-guests-are-eating clause in the Performance Agreement, I called her bluff. I told her to remind the birthday mom about that provision in the Agreement.
In the end, I had it my way. I performed my show after the guests were done eating.
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