Comedy Acting Techniques for Character Performers, by Colin Underwood. Surprise is vital for character entertainers and…
Colin Underwood, corporate magician shares some more of his magic performance tips :
APPROACHING THE TABLE
“This all depends on the type of venue and function and your frame of mind at the time. If it is a family restaurant then it is easier to approach the tables, as most adults will be comfortable to have Mr. Magic come over and entertain their little darlings.
The environment of such restaurants allows for the approach to be more direct… “Hi I’m here to show off my tricks whether you like it or not.” Normally works!
There is a certain amount of subtle persuasion on your part to break into their space and not to back off. But I have to remind myself if they do not want the experience it is their choice.”
- I have found that if you can get the people into a receptive mood before you approach them the easier it is to entertain them. That is why the time you perform can make a lot of difference. This is actually one of the core methods of hypnotists.I believe as performing entertainers it is our job to get the bulk of the audience into this happy state as quickly and smoothly as possible. The first few minutes can make or break your performance. Performing too early at a function is disastrous and vice versa where an audience has had so much on in the evening and have drunk too much it is also not ideal. They are distracted very easily. This is where experience counts, to be able to suggest the time of the performance to the booker.
- Do not agree to perform for too long at a function. You can do the overkill and ruin everything by trying to make up time by doing less than adequate material.
I work on a 2-hour performance per 100 people for a closed function. Less is better! If they want longer I suggest they hire another performer or I will offer some of my other skills depending on the function. In other words I am able to sustain the entertainment.
- Be aware of the audience BEFORE you are in their space. I scan the room when I arrive and then constantly keep updating who’s where and who’s still waiting for food etc.
The best time to perform is just after the main orders have been taken and to finish just before the meal arrives or after the desert menu although this time at a family restaurant is when mommy wants kids to go to bed so your rising card routine can very easily be cut short.
- TRY AND SEE THE VIBE IN THE RESTAURANT OR FUNCTION BEFORE YOU START
It doesn’t take much to see if the table is OPEN or CLOSED. I do concede there are the ones you just do not expect but hey that’s life and my system isn’t perfect…. yet!
My belief is this – if there are enough tables to get through in my allotted time I will leave the undesirable types of tables till last or never!!
- I have found that a silent, quick and visual routine gets me off to a fine start. I have either done enough or they then warm to me by seeing I can actually entertain them and not interfere with their space – enabling me to continue with some more effects. But even here I keep it short unless encouraged!
- This “you are bothering us” attitude projected from clientele is a common attitude in the more pretentious venues and corporate functions where they (the delegates) are trying to conduct business and you seem to be a nuisance! I find a big smile and a louder than normal voice (ok so I m softly spoken) helps project a more confident attitude to the clients, added to this a short confident routine and I find there isn’t a problem. I am aware there is experience, which plays a big role in this as well. How to read the crowd, the general mood of the room and to go with the flow all help the performer when a crowd is tough.
- I have found that at male dominated conferences there are a lot of male egos and business maneuvering which you have to deal with. You don’t score brownie points with anybody by coming in with the “Mr. Big Deal, check me out” while they are trying to talk business.
A more low key approach is better and then slowly take control of the group with more psychological methods.
Read our blog next week for more…
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