August 2018 Chatter

Posted at 31/07/18 - 02:45 PM

It seems to me that having an ability to assess your audience can be a very helpful attribute. By this I mean that when you are interacting with them, it pays you to try and judge, from the way they react to what you say and do, where they are in terms of their intellect and range of interest.

For instance, when I take my lecture round to various magic clubs, as I do every year, the blend of knowledge, experience and understanding can vary hugely from one society to the next.

It could be that one club, for instance, has a lot of people who are new to magic, or who have had limited exposure to the art and its secrets. For these members, if I mention an Elmsley Count, it might be received blankly by some of those present, even though it is a widely known and used card move.

Conversely, I might turn up at another club and realise that the membership comprises of mainly professional performers and/or those who have been around in magic for many decades. If I was to spend time laboriously going through the handling technique of the Elmsley Count, it would clearly be a waste of time for most of those in attendance.

As it is with lecturing, so it can be with more general shows for the lay public too. A dinner comprising of guests who are lawyers, accountants and doctors, would be an event where magic that has a challenging cerebral element to it might go down well, whereas other groups may prefer to see visual, easier to understand effects.

Nevertheless it is not just a question of making widespread pre judgements about what type of people your audience may comprise of, but is more about assessing each spectator mini group as you entertain.

This is especially true with strolling or table hopping magic where you are moving constantly from one group to the next during your performance stint. At the same function you can come across wildly differing reactions to your magic from one group to the next, and this may be less to do with you and the way you perform and more to do with the random make up of the spectator groups themselves.

I find that my choice of material, the patter I use with it and the style of humour, tends to change a little depending on my feelings about the spectators. Years of experience have taught me how to adapt my basic magic in order to hopefully fine tune it to appeal as strongly as possible to each table or group I entertain. I don’t always hit it 100%, but I am convinced that most of the time my gut feeling helps me to tweak the magic performance for its optimum impact.

If you have a set act that you always present in exactly the same way every time you perform, and never make any allowances for the spectators themselves, it may go down fine most of the time. But to my way of thinking, if you can be sensitive to the intelligence of the audience, if you are able to feel the mood of the spectators at any given moment, and if you are then able to adapt your performance in response, I think you are likely to get more consistently good reactions. Having a strong act is not really the only pathway to success, its moulding it to the audience that can help too.

Author: Mark Leveridge

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