Busking is magic on the street, but none of this David Blaine stuff. Busking is performing for real people for real money! No Hit and Run stuff, Busking is putting on a show, not a trick, but a show, and then actually get them to pay you at the end. Well, I’ve decided to make this essay for anyone who is interested in maybe doing magic for money, street magic is great, but busking is going one step further and actually getting paid.
First of all, when you start doing Busking, if your not careful people are going to mistake you for a street hustler. That’s why I advice you stay away form the ‘Three Shell Game’ or ‘Three Card Monte’. Imagine you are the spectator. You look over and someone’s doing find the pea! People are going to think that you’re going to fool them into putting a dollar down on the table. Same goes for if you’re just standing at your table, shuffling a deck of cards. Cards can give the impression of street hustlers. I use cards in my act, don’t get me wrong, but presented in the wrong way, people are going to get the wrong idea. Putting a sign in front of your table is also a good idear to set you apart from street hustlers.
Secondly, how to draw a crowd. You’re not going to get very far shouting and screaming and people. Go over to groups of people and say “Come over here guys I'm going to start doing some magic.” Be friendly, but don’t take no for an answer. Be careful who you do that to though. I’m probably stating the obvious when I say don’t go over to a group of Business men. A family with some children is good, a group of giggly girls is also good. Once you’ve got a fair crowd, say to them that you haven’t got enough people to start the show yet. So get all of your spectators to cheer after three or something like that. For many people passing by, curiosity will get the better of them and they will start coming over to see because something exciting must be happening. Not only does this get a crowd but it avoids everyone getting into a crossed arms straight faced manner. You want to get them into the mood.
Thirdly you’re routine. Your routine has to be flexible. You never know. One day the sun might be out and the heat would become really uncomfortable not only for you but for the people watching. You should be able to shorten your routine, and if you want to, make it longer. I would advice your general routine to be between fifteen and thirty minutes long. You may think you would have to have a lot of magic to do magic for that long, but you don’t. The last thing you want to do is cram as much as you can into a twenty minute show. Go s-l-o-w-l-y. Add some humour into it. I would use a rope routine, coin routine and/or card routine, and the cups and balls. You could do some visual appearances and vanishes if you wanted to, maybe sponge ball routine as well. Don’t use all of those things, but if I were you I’d take the time to learn a decent cups and balls routine. But remember it’s not about the tricks, it’s about the presentation.
Audience management is next. Make sure everyone is a fair way around from you’re table. Also have them in a semi-circle around you, a square with no top, or something like that, especially if you have a big crowd. When picking volunteers don’t get someone who is going to be really embarrassed if they come up, but equally don’t pick someone who is going to steel the show.
Next, it’s audience participation. You’ve got to get the balance just right. You don’t want to get an audience member up to hold a piece of paper. When you think that it is appropriate then get an audience member up. But don’t be afraid to do up to and audience member, ask their name and where they’re from and make a joke. But yet again don’t do this to often, it’s all about balance. If you can get this balance, then audience participation is great.
The passing of the hat at the end is the reward to all of you’re hard work. Don’t be afraid to get the people to pay you. Accompany it with a some funny lines if you want,
“If you have enjoyed the show, please come up and put some money in the hat. Some people give me three dollars, that’s OK. Some people give me seven dollars, that’s alright as well. TEN DOLLARS is what people normally give me. Each. Kids, if you Mum or Dad don’t give you Ten Dollars, they don’t love you.”-make sure you deliver that Jokingly!
"If you have any complaints write them on the back of a twenty dollar bill and put it in the hat. It's sure to get my attention that way..."
Also I wouldn’t actually literally ‘Pass the hat’ as people might nick money. Just go round with it or get people to come up an put money in the hat.
Finally, how are you going to be? Are you going to be Mr Silly the Clown, the slick yet casual magician, be and dress up as an old fashioned entertainer, or someone else? Make this someone you are, want to be, or can relate to. You don’t have to be yourself. I’ve heard of magicians being themselves and coming across all hastily. Don’t be afraid to act like it’s yourself. Some magicians are shy (including me) and basically act the whole time.
I hope you’ve found this helpful guys.