Of all the variety artists, magicians are the most endangered. They have a sort of death wish.
Musicians can hit a wrong note, and the audience forgives them. They don’t start booing and throwing stuff.
A film’s pace can slow down and lose our interest a bit, but we tend to just keep watching to the end anyway.
A comedian can tell one joke that doesn’t kill, and it was still an excellent show.
But magic shows? Magic shows are different.
You mess up a trick, and the audience is unlikely to forgive you.
Did you get that?
Magicians screw up, and they think we’re totally lame!
That’s a lot of pressure, so the best way to NOT be totally lame is to always have a Plan B, so there is no mess-up. You need a way out. You need a Plan B.
No matter how flawlessly you rehearse stuff, life is gonna get in the way.
You gotta have an “out” for everything because stuff just happens. Threads break. A kid yells that it’s in the other hand, and it really IS in the other hand. Crew members fall asleep during the show. Your suitcase is in Oklahoma, but your show is in New Jersey. The volunteer you choose to help on stage with your mind reading act speaks no English. Your music stops working during the show. There is no orange juice in the entire county – and it’s a major part of your opening effect. The only access to the stage is up a narrow flight of stairs, and you’re supposed to perform Jim Steinmeyer’s Origami Illusion.
Working pros know there must always be a Plan B.
The thing I’ve discovered, over the years, is how working pros tend to look less at how awesome this upcoming show is going to be, how magical the audience response will be, how fantastic meeting all those new people will be, how fantastic they’ll feel after “slaying the audience” – and instead focus on how many obstacles will pop up to keep their performances from being an A++.
A++ is obviously what we’re all shooting for, but experience tells us that even when we’re prepared, the ugly demon-head of chance pops up and BAM ... Now you better have a plan to deal with it.
They call it Murphy’s Law because it’s a law. The adage goes, "Anything that can go wrong will eventually go wrong.” The best way to deal with this law is to know your routines, know your shows backward and forward, and then use your imagination to imagine the worst.
This doesn’t just apply to magicians; it’s true for all entertainers. So imagine the worst thing going wrong and develop an “out” that gets you back into “good graces” with your audience. If you mess up, or a trick goes wrong, sometimes your response can be as easy as laughing and saying, “Well, that didn’t go like I expected.”
This can take a total disaster and turn it around in a very good way. The audience sees that you screwed up, but they also see you don’t take yourself that seriously, you’re full of good humor, and they LOVE you for that.
You might have even messed up on purpose; they simply don’t know, and to them, it doesn’t matter. That’s powerful stuff.
Having a good Plan B is important.
Plan A is, of course, know your material, be amazing, and don’t screw up – but Plan B is to have a way to bring the audience back to you.
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