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Bunny1In the world of performing magic, many experts and pseudo experts swear by the validity of the conventional wisdom that says, “There are no bad audiences, only bad magicians.”

As in most wisdom bandied about as truth, the truth of this postulation is as porous as a quicksand.  Step into it, and you end up swimming in un-swimable shifting mass of fallacies.

Of course, there are bad audiences. Drunks are bad.  So are talking parents. Or teenagers taking group pictures during your Fraidy Cat Rabbit routine.

PhotobucketMost audiences do not start out bad.  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 some of them do evolve into human beings impervious to your attempts to mystify them, or apathetic to your best jokes, or indifferent to even your strongest trick, say, the levitation of the entire audience. That’s a possibility that occurs more often than we’d care to tolerate.

To refuse to acknowledge the prospect of audiences evolving during a performance into a species with an attitude and blaming solely the performer for the bombing of a show is to oversimplify a complication.

The truth of the matter is, once distracted, people will not watch a magic show, much less exert effort to enjoy it, even for the sake of their children.

Apart from the magician’s incompetence, performance condition can trigger the malevolent genes that turn people into ogres who can make life miserable for the performer.

A bouncy castle, game booths, a swimming pool, a band playing rock music, waiters serving food, the pompous arrival of a pompous guest—any of these can transform an otherwise attentive and responsive audience into a mass of unfeeling zombies.

PhotobucketWhat I’m trying to say is that even if you have the best act in town, even if you are the most charming and witty performer in your area, don’t forget to survey the performing area for “scene stealers”, “attention grabbers”,  and other stimuli that will compete with your show.

Audiences may start nice and responsive, but they may give you a hard time once dazzled by extraneous stimuli in the performance area.

Stay magical,