The purpose of our magic is to entertain. To entertain, in my definition of the word, is to give the audience a feel-good experience through our show.
If a performer can make his audience laugh, experience fun, make them cry, grip them with suspense, baffle and amaze them—and they feel good about the experience—-then he is said to have “entertained” them.
1. Ensure Visibility:
- Yes, you have to make sure people can see you, even if you are performing a disappearing act. Visibility clarifies the plot of your act. An audience that cannot follow the action, or is confused because it misses a sequence or two, will likely lose interest in the show.
- If you are doing a stand-up show, make sure everybody in the room can see what you are doing. This can be easily done if you stand on a stage or, lacking that, a raised platform. If no platform is available, make sure everyone is seated.
- If there are children in the audience, ask them to sit Indian-style on the floor. Don’t let people on the front rows to stand up, lest they block the view of the people at the back. This seems an obvious point, but in the heat of the performance, many magicians sometimes forget this. At birthday parties, children are notorious for standing up in the middle of a performance. Children standing up is equivalent to heckling. They will not only get into your nerves but also distract the rest of the audience.
- Be sure the stage is well illuminated. Last Saturday, in a birthday party in Batangas, I was called on stage just as the sun was setting down behind the mountains. I refused to start the show until they put lights on stage. I waited for 45 minutes (with the doves already loaded up in my body) for the electrician to string several light bulbs on stage. It would have been a dismal performance had I gone on with the show in semi darkness.
- Use props appropriate to the size of the audience. I once watched a clown magician perform at the Luneta Grandstand with half-a-million people watching him. He did coins from one hand to another. From a distance, nobody could understand what he was doing. It just looked as if he was making hand signals. He quickly lost his hundred-thousand-strong audience. Don’t be like him. Use big props for big audiences. You can even use big props for a small audience but never bring out small props for a big audience—unless you are as gifted a performer as a gifted performer (whoever that is).
2. Ensure Audibility.
- You must be heard, even if you are performing a silent act. A stage enveloped in silence is a boring stage to watch. It will make the performer look amateurish in the eyes of the discriminating audience.
- Embellish your act with music. With hundreds of thousands of titles to select from, don’t think twice about using a musical score to liven up your show.
- Use a microphone, even if you can project your voice to the back of the auditorium. You must not only be heard but also you must be heard clearly without you shouting and straining your vocal chords. By using the microphone, you can raise your voice, lower it to a whisper, modulate and express different emotional nuances. Remember, you are supposed to touch the audience’s feelings, so they will feel good about watching your show. Shouting and screaming at your audience because you dislike using a microphone is not the way to the audience’s hearts.
- Learn to speak well. Check your pronunciation and grammar. An error in grammar and pronunciation may be allowable now and then (nobody’s perfect, especially among Filipino magicians whose English is second language), but stay away from “I have a coins” or “let’s play a games”. That may be forgivable to some but laughable to many.
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