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 Post subject: The Audience Doesn't Care: Part 1 of 2
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:29 am 
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Penguin

Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 83
Forward From The Author.

I’ve been a performer for as long as I can remember. If it wasn’t doing simple magic tricks during my elementary school show and tells or talent shows, it was annoying the edited out of my parents and neighbors with “pick a card” style tricks. I’ve been blessed in a way I guess. I started learning how to do magic at the young age of two and a half years old. Back then it wasn’t really magic. To be honest I’m sure it was more goofing around than anything, but my parents pretended to be entertained and fed the need to learn more.

Like some magicians I know, I don’t perform full time yet. Sadly I’m still a struggling, starving artist. I’m usually happy anytime I get to take a stage, and ecstatic if it pays me for my time. So alas I do still have to maintain a day job least my bills go unpaid. For me, the best day job I could ever hope to get is one performing at a theme park: Universal Studios Hollywood in specific.

At Universal Studios I play several roles of well known and beloved characters from popular movies, and cartoons inside of the park. Some people would call us Mascots, those who are “with it” call us Fuzzies, however we just call our selves actors or entertainers. It’s strange I used to mock people who do my job until I myself saw the joy on a Make A Wish child’s face, who was far braver than I, dying with leukemia light up with joy. The child’s mom told me that it was her kid’s last wish to meet me (well my character) at the park. Of all the things in this world that kid could have wished for (and gotten) nothing would have topped meeting the character I was playing that day. I think I cried my eyes out for the next three hours, after words I began to take my duties very seriously.

I’ll be honest this article didn’t start out as one aimed at magicians. I’ve been an employee at Universal Studios since October of 2007. I had threatened my co-workers on several occasions that I would write an educated and informative essay to serve as kind of a guide line for the new hires to demonstrate the kind of things they would want to do if they wanted to shine like gold in this job. This article is a combination of about two years worth of constant notes and reviews from my management given to me, observations I’ve made about my own performances inside the park, as well as observations made by watching our guests and fellow performers. I found that the more I wrote down my outline notes, and the more I reviewed them the more I found that this advice could apply to just about anyone in the entertainment field today. So with a few minor tweeks and edits here and there I proudly present to you the following essay centered around improving your act from the inside out.

Some of this advice may be hard to swallow. Some of it you may not agree with, and some of it you may not understand yet. That’s fine. However, if I can cause you to sit back and think about yourself, your act, your audience, or your presentations for just a minute then I’ll consider my efforts worth my while. After all, I think we can all share in the same unified desire to improve and advance our art form.

(To Be Continued)


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 Post subject: Re: The Audience Doesn't Care: Part 1 of 2
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:29 am 
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Penguin

Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 83
(Continued From Above)

The Audience Doesn’t Care
Surefire Ways to Improve Your Act and Stun a Crowd!

One of the basic principles I have learned through my time spent at the theme park, and it seems consistent with my magic performances is the concept that the audience doesn’t care. That’s more of a mantra, one answer fits all questions, kind of statement, but if you think about it for a minute… it makes sense.

Any excuse you can concoct, any argument you can give, any defense of your act, actions, or performance results you can dream of can be answered with the simple statement “The audience doesn’t care.” Once you wrap your head around the full meaning of this powerful sentence you really start to put things in their proper perspective. Here, read a few of these examples and you’ll see what I mean.

1. “I couldn’t perform my best effect because I don’t have a deck of cards.” - The audience doesn’t care.
2. “I don’t feel like going to my gig tonight because I’m sick.” -The audience doesn’t care.
3. “I’m late for my show because I ran into traffic.” -The audience doesn’t care.
4. “I don’t really feel like giving it 120% today because of personal problems.” -The audience doesn’t care.

Get the picture? The audience doesn’t care. They want to be entertained. They want to see you perform. They want their money or times worth for being in your audience. You may be a magician sure, but that’s just a title. Your JOB is to be an entertainer. What ever is going on in your personal life, what ever problems you may be encountering before and after you take the stage doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters the minute you put one foot onto that stage is your performance for the audience. In that respect you would be absolutely right to assume that a certain amount of disconnection is needed from everything else in your life for the short time that you are performing. This is probably a good thing since you really need to focus your attention and energy on what you are saying and how you are doing it anyway.

I’ve seen it happen too many times. An actor or magician goes before their audience, and due to what ever personal issues they have they fail to give their best performance and the audience just looks at them like “And so?” It’s a horrible feeling to know that you didn’t connect with anyone in your audience, all because the performer forgot to override their personal mindset with the observation that the audience doesn’t care what’s going on in their life, they just want to see a good show.

Once you can muscle past that horribly blunt observation you are ready to look at yourself closely and objectively. WARNING! You may not like what you see! However, facing yourself is the only way you’ll be able to recognize your faults and force yourself to change, grow, and improve.

One such ways to improve is to understand and take to heart the next principle: “Never Apologize, and Never Explain.”

(To Be Continued)


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 Post subject: Re: The Audience Doesn't Care: Part 1 of 2
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:29 am 
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Penguin

Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 83
(Continued From Above)

Everyone makes mistakes. That goes doubly so for actors and magicians while they are on set. Be it a mechanical malfunction of your props or a break down in the verbiage of your delivery. It happens. You have two options. 1) Succumb to it, fold, tuck your tail between your legs, whimper and suck as an entertainer, or 2) knuckle down and press on. Given the two, I’ll take the latter. When an actor makes a mistake on set he doesn’t apologize for forgetting his lines or missing his mark. That would waste valuable time. It would waste the time of the director, all the people working on the set, film, and money. Instead he just stops, and restarts again. As a magician, while you are performing for an audience and you make a mistake if you stop to apologize you’re wasting the time of your audience, and remember They Don’t Care! If you screw up, and it’s recoverable just recover, and move on. If you’ve botched the effect beyond repair, bow, abort the performance and move on. Don’t stutter and apologize. If you want to separate the chaff from the wheat, watch someone else perform. The ones that apologize for mistakes show somehow just don’t seem to flow as well as those that don’t.

On a second note, never explain either. The more you explain the more you open yourself up for attack. If you botch something, don’t apologize and don’t offer reason. Just move on. This also serves as a useful tool when dealing with others who disagree with you, or wish to verbally attack you. The less you explain yourself the less rope you give them to hang you with. Also, you guessed it, The audience doesn’t care for your lame excuse as to why you didn’t find their card anyways. They’d much rather see you toss the deck over your shoulder, let all 52 cards sputter out and onto the ground, hear you say “Well that one’s screwed” (which they’ll laugh at) and watch with interest as you move onto your next bit.

For close-up performers emoting physically is important but it is more refined. Body language, tone of voice, facial gestures, etc are all involved in physically emoting to your audience to convey feelings, emotions, and humanity. Since all of these are really important things to be discussed we’ll go into more detail about them a bit later on. Right now I want to address emoting for stage performers. Cabaret, Stage, Clubs, or Large Parties, anywhere you must be seen by a large group of people you must remember that in order for your actions to be read by everyone in the room you need to be larger than life! You need to emote with your full body your emotions other wise from the back of the room you’ll look flat, and static. If you need someone to come onto stage, wave them up with your full arm, not just a single finger. Remember if the movement feels too big then you’re probably just about right.

Energy is a must for any performer, stage or otherwise. Remember the audience will feel and perceive what you show them. If you don’t perform with energy chances are you’ll appear to be boring, sluggish, or like you just don’t care. I’m not a huge fan of energy drinks or caffeine but if I know I’m going into a show a bit under my par I’ll slam a Red Bull just to make sure my perk is pepped.

(To Be Continued)


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 Post subject: Re: The Audience Doesn't Care: Part 1 of 2
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:30 am 
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Penguin

Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 83
(Continued From Above)

Have you ever heard of the term a “Self fulfilling prophesy”? Do you know what that means? What it refers to is a situation where someone might say “Well I’m going to suck at this card trick because I haven’t really practiced it that much today.” And then, when they perform they do suck. It’s a self defeating mindset and it really works against you. There is scores of things that can be said for the power of positive thinking. In fact I could probably fill a small library with the books that have been written on the subject alone. I’m not going to go into too long of detail on this subject but I will highlight a few pointers. It is possible to psych yourself out of something even if it is a familiar subject to you! Positive energy generates positive results. It’s almost like a law of nature. If you think you’re going to have fun, and a great performance chances are you will. If you tell yourself ahead of time that your show is going to suck, then you leave yourself very little room for success.

I’d love to take a moment to share a story with you. I was working a bar a few months ago when a drunk stumbles up to the bar, and begins to shout racial profanities in the middle of my act. This wasn’t your average run of the mill heckler. This person was trying to start a fight and I’m caught dead center in the middle of it! My audience now had their attentions split. Half on the drunk, and half on what I or the bartender was going to do. Heckler lines I decided quickly, would be a waste. Worst case, provoke the idiot into doing something we’d all regret. I decided on the following action. I broke character, and raised my voice loud enough to be heard over everything else in the entire bar at that time. I demanded that the drunk be quiet and pay attention to me for a second. I ordered them to quiet down or leave the bar. This had stunned the drunk out of their bigoted and inflammatory remarks long enough for the bouncers to apprehend him and escort him out. I looked at the bartender, asked him to get me a glass of soda, and to my audience I called for an assistant. I didn’t need an assistant for the effect I was performing, but I made up something for them to do on the spot. Within a few minutes, I had the audience back, and the show ended well.

What happened in that bar that night was a freak chance with fate. You don’t normally get to deal with drunks in that capacity but it just goes to show that it could happen. However, I didn’t apologize for stopping the show, and I made no explanations for my actions. I took control of my situation, and over my audience. When the threat to my performance was over, I selected an audience member and made them apart of my act, drawing in with her the rest of their attentions. In the end thankfully I salvaged the show. A lot of things happened in my favor but the one thing that I wasn’t was lucky. I took control over my audience and that’s one thing that everyone needs to learn to do. Control your audiences and be a master of your surroundings. If you can do that, you’ll practically be an unstoppable force on the stage.

(To Be Continued in The Audience Doesn't Care Part 2 of 2)


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