How do you entertain your audience as a magician?
Well, there’s a whole variety of methods and ideas.
But for now, let’s start at ‘ground zero’…
How to NOT BORE your audience…
In this article, you’ll discover the reason so many magicians flat-out bore their audiences to sleep (and what you can do about it.)
First of all, let’s make something clear.
There really ain’t much excuse for ‘boring’ magic.
Look—you’re not a math teacher. You’re not trying to engage people with a topic that has boredom practically ‘built-in’ to it.
Instead, you’re a magician—the topic you present to your audience is magic.
And guess what?
The vast majority of people LIKE magic.
This gives you an automatic edge over a math teacher in that the audience is often already in a state of high-interest and emotion.
(I believe it’s a fair statement to say that most people find magic a much more intrinsically entertaining topic than calculus.)
With all this said and done, it should be easy enough for you to walk in, perform a couple of moves, and hold your audience’s attention through the entire thing.
However, as bitter experience teaches most magicians…that just isn’t the case.
Which really, is pretty crazy.
After all…think about it for a second:
When you perform your magic, you’re apparently defying the very laws of nature, disrupting the foundation of our understanding of physics, and performing feats that are just flat-out impossible.
So why in the world are audiences acting so bored???
Well, the answer is somewhat obvious when you pause to consider it:
All those implications are irrelevant when the audience ‘thinks’ they know what’s going on. Or even when they don’t know what exactly but know that ‘something’ is going on—something that they believe they COULD figure out if they applied a little bit of lateral thinking and logic to.
Note the emphasis on ‘think.’
In truth, it really doesn’t matter whether the spectator has sussed the correct method or not—and whether they’d be able to if they put their mind to it—the fact that they THINK there is an easily deconstructed method and are considering it from a logical standpoint is the entire problem and the reason they aren’t reacting the way they should.
After all, the moment they feel that the solution is ‘within grasp’ (even if they’re wrong) the whole thing descends from an impossibility to a mere puzzle. And what do many people do when faced with puzzles and other forms of brainteasers?
They get bored.
Perhaps the best phrasing of the idea I’m trying to convey was first penned by Simon Aronson when he said:
“There is a world of difference between a spectator’s not knowing how something’s done versus his knowing that it can’t be done.”
Juan Tamariz touches beautifully on this in The Magic Way. Your goal is to eliminate every possible solution from the spectator’s mind, until they’re finally forced to accept that there is no solution and the only path left is to immerse themselves in and enjoy fully the magic experience.
Here’s where I’m going with this:
The above point was hammered home to me in my recent study of master card magician Darwin Ortiz.
In his book, ‘Designing Miracles’, he lays out 27 ‘laws’ for powerfully designed effects. One of them is this:
“If an effect can be solved simply by the application of logic, the effect is no good.” Bob Cassidy
This law summarises very well what we’ve been discussing. If the spectator can solve the effect via simple logic, the effect is no good. Furthermore, if they as much as FEEL like they could at any moment solve the effect via simple logic, the effect is no good (regardless of how ‘right’ they are.)
So our challenge as magicians is to create effects that are constructed in such a way to defer the spectator from finding a logical solution—and better yet, to stop them ever looking for one in the first place!
That’s step one – make sure you don’t bore the audience.
But how do you truly entertain them?
Here are 3 pieces of advice…
1. Be ‘pithy’
By this, I don’t mean you shouldn’t perform for long. Rather, that the individual ‘segments’ of your performance aren’t overly long individually.
Think of your performance as being made up of building blocks. Each individual block should be free from redundancy or waste. Again, that’s not to say each block needs to be short. Just that there’s nothing in there that isn’t important and helpful in moving your audience to your desired end emotional state.
Now, you could have 5 of these blocks or you could have 50 – it doesn’t matter. The overall length isn’t really the important part. What’s important is that each individual block has been evaluated and refined so there’s nothing unimportant inside it.
It’s the same reason we’ll sit and watch a film for 2 hours, but we can’t stand 5 minutes watching paint dry. It’s not a simple equation of ‘long = bad.’
It’s about what’s INSIDE the content.
If every building block of your routine is world-class, you could perform for 5 hours and people wouldn’t get tired of it!
2. Tell stories
Stories have been the most relevant and important form of communication for thousands of years of human history.
That’s not going to change for your magic act.
The key takeaway here is just to remind you that people LOVE stories.
Anytime you start telling a story, you almost by default increase the interest and engagement levels of your audience.
It’s cliche, but that’s because it’s true.
The more you practice, the better you’ll get at being an instinctive entertainer.
There’s no better way to learn than to do it.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Let me know if you have any other insights or methods for entertaining your audience.