How to get experience performing in the real world in the next 2 weeks!
[Read time: 10 minutes]
How to get experience performing in the real world in the next 2 weeks!
So, you’re a beginner magician who is looking at getting experience of performing in the real world for real people. Maybe you’re beginning on this journey or maybe you are transitioning from one are of magic to another.
Whichever reason it is, don’t worry, here are our handy dandy tips for getting real world magic experience; performing for real people. If you put your mind to it you can action these ideas in under 2 weeks, possibly even within 24 hours if the stars align!
First let’s look at performing for your friends and family. This group of people can provide you with a readily receptive audience who will give you the time of day and already respect you enough to put up with your early magic performances (for the most part). It is because of these reasons that performing magic for your friend’s and family doesn’t count as a real audience! Yes, you can try your routines on them and ask for their feedback and advice, but, no, they are generally not going to give you the blunt feedback that a real audience will give.
The first piece of advice we have for you is to buddy up with other magicians and find a local bar (which is not your own) and start performing strolling magic. For us we went out to a local city (Lichfield) and chose bars that were not too busy. The ones we had the most success in had a mid-range clientele, and also served food. Our strategy was to get ourselves a booth and order drinks/ food for ourselves. We would talk magic with each other and practice our sleights and routines around our table. From our position we could see around the bar and we kept a watchful eye out for groups who were looking like they could be receptive for Magic. If there was a table that looked like they were struggling with conversation, one of us would head over and introduce themselves. We would always ask if they wanted to see something we were working on (this removes the pressure for us to be good and the awkward pressure them to be impressed).
If the answer was positive then whoever had done the introduction performed a quick routine they were working on. After the piece of magic you will be able to judge if the audience will be receptive for more. If they are then we would often introduce another member of our little team and they would show something as well. If the table was not receptive, thank them and move on. After each table we would retire to our own spot and jam again; talking about what went well and what we could improve. This way we were able to engage with multiple magic performance and get feedback from our peers many times in one night.
Another good thing about setting yourself up at a table like this is that sometimes people would spot us and ask to join us.
Once you have been accepted by a table, or if people are coming to join you, then the world is your oyster – perform all the routines you like!
Another benefit of performing magic like this, when we were beginners, was that we all knew each others material and started to bounce off each other. There were times when we instinctively started sticking cards on windows for each other, forcing cards that could be used as call backs for later routines, palming off signed cards for each other under the guise of shuffling and then hiding them across the bar… If you surround yourself with fellow magicians then you will learn very quickly and become more creative while getting real world experience performing magic for real people.
The next piece of advice is looking for a charity you can perform for. Use social media to find out which charities are holding fund-raising nights near you and contact them offering you or services. You should find that on Facebook alone there are a lot of local charities holding events. Drop them a message, or even better give them a call, and offer your services for free as a magician. This way you can get experience performing magic in front of a real audience without the pressure of a paid gig, and you get the feel good factor of helping someone out at the same time.
For charities you can search Facebook’s events. you can also Google larger charities to see which charities are based near you or have a local presence. Also keep your eyes open for charity donation boxes – our barbershop has a charity box for a local family charity, contact these and offer you or services. Our local Tesco and Costa both have a community notice board in them with local events and charities. Scout out these notice boards for charitable causes and your list of leads for Magic will increase.
Search local news for local families fundraising and holding events. There are more out there than you would first imagine. Personally, over the years, I have performed for local Conservative clubs, family fundraisers for sick children, a Bikers’ charity called Blood Bikes, several Cancer charities just to name a few. But more on charity events in a separate post.
Another way you can gain experience performing magic in front of a real audience in the next two weeks is to jump into an open mic night: These can be a baptism of fire but they will give you flight time that you sorely need for growing as a performer.
Check Google and Facebook for local open mic nights. Don’t be put off if the title is “comedy” or even “music”, contact the booker and ask if you can go on first as a warm up act. Don’t be afraid to travel to get to the venue, sometimes it helps to be performing somewhere that isn’t in your own backyard.
As well as open mic nights there are also organised stand up comedy nights which sometimes allow magicians to jump in. If you have a set of routines which is a little more polished but needs the flight time these stand up comedy nights can be a good way to both get some flight time and get some cash. While you’re there get to know the other acts and they can become a valuable source of advice and tips for how to improve your act.
All of these options above are, when it comes down to it, a numbers game: There is always a chance of things going wrong, or you not getting the gig / opportunity. Stick with it and keep grafting, the opportunities are out there but they can sometimes feel hidden away out of reach.
Finally, when talking about gaining experience performing magic for people, Social Media magic does not count!! Magic on social media is its own beast and will not help you perform for ‘real people’. A lot of social media performances are done ‘to camera’ and the production is based around making the experience amazing for those watching at home. This is not to say that social media magicians are not also great real-world magicians, only to say that creating a strong social media profile does not automatically make you a good performer. Especially if the videos are of the magic being performed in front of your crotch!
That’s all for now. See you next time.
Ian, Phil, Rob, & Tony.
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