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I disagree. Of course, there are bad audiences. Drunks don’t make a good audience. Or talking parents. Or teenagers taking group pictures during your Fraidy Cat Rabbit routine.
They constitute a multitude who doesn’t care about your entertainment, refuse to be entertained, or just too distracted to appreciate your entertainment.
They are bad either by their own choice or as a result of the performer’s lack of performing skills.
Most audiences do not start out bad, though. In most instances, guests don’t arrive at birthday parties already drunk. None of them intends to trip you up with heckler’s lines they have researched in advance.
But I’m sure, when a magician has the unfortunate task to perform for a difficult or apathetic audience, he can elicit only the faintest applause, the scarcest laughs, and the slightest reaction, if ever he can get one at all.
So here’s the mystery: if the audience is not bad, the magic is not dreadful, and the performer is not a slouch, why then a magic performance would fail to get good reactions?
Let me propose some theories.
The Theory of Stunned Silence. The magic packs so much wallop it sends the audience into catatonic state. People’s brains grow numb, their tongues shrink, their bodies go limp, after being overwhelmed by the unfathomable mystery of your magic act.
The audience is blown away. They just can’t show you any physical feedback, because the mystery of your performance has paralyzed them.
A stunned silence is a good reaction to aspire to have. Just don’t confuse it with the other type of silence—the one borne out of indifference.
Similarly, in magic, this famous fellow observes, “He who does not react to the magic did not understand the trick.”
This often happens when one inflicts his audience with a confusing effect. Did the card go up and down the deck or did it disappear and relocate inside a lemon?
If a trick confuses and does not entertain, it will not get a hearty reaction.
You can find this axiom on chapter 32 of Leodini’s Big Book of Axioms. I’ll give you a copy of the book—as soon as I finish writing it.
The Trick is Ho-hum Theory. Some magicians have been perpetuating a myth that can’t be found in ancient Greek (or any nationality) Mythology. They claim that it is not what a magician does but how he does it.
Don’t believe this Gospel of Untruth. The fact is, not all magic is created equal. Tricks either have or lack intrinsic entertainment values to make them soar or tailspin with little help from the performer.
There are tricks that are unfathomable, and there are tricks as transparent as lungs viewed through an x-ray machine. There are tricks that leave one speechless, and there are those that drive people to insanity and make them want to gossip with the person seated next to them rather than watch the magic performance.
A magician who lacks the good sense to choose a strong material will mostly suffer the fate that indifference showers upon those who perform the 21-Card Trick.
Gunning for enthusiastic reactions is a good goal of every performance. A reaction is better than no reaction. Whether the reaction you get is in the form of tomatoes being pelted at you, at least this is a real-life reaction. It means you are performing for a live audience as opposed to just dreaming about performing while you laze out on a rocking chair.
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