For several years, I was in a vicious cycle with my stand-up magic. Although my straight stand-up comedy act and strolling close-up magic would be sharp, I only performed stage magic effects around the holidays.
Basically, it went like this. I would work my restaurants and private parties all year round and therefore, my close-up magic was on point. I would start to get bookings for holiday shows in September.
Most of these shows had me performing an hour of strolling close-up magic during cocktails followed with a stand-up magic show after dinner for the whole party. Once companies started to book me for these shows, I knew it was time to practice the Remote Magician. It always put pressure on me and by the time I felt really good about the magic, the holiday season would be over.
Of course, all of the stage magic went in the closet and I worked the next several months performing stand-up comedy and close-up magic until the next holiday season. After awhile, I decided I always wanted to be prepared to do a great stand-up magic show at anytime.
When I started to make the show more about me, my point of view, and my relationship with the audience, and less about the trick, the solution to my problem became obvious. Here are some tips on making the jump from close-up magician to stand-up magician.
1. Choose material that works close-up and on stage. For example, The Cards Across, Card to Pocket, Burnt Bill to Wallet, mind reading effects, etc. Now, instead of only performing stage effects when you have a stand-up show, you can work on them over and over again at your restaurant.
2. Work on your stand-up comedy but not to the exclusion of the magic. You may be a great stand-up but if you bill yourself as a comedy magician, you better have some tricks.
3. Too many magicians have dead spots in their shows while somebody is signing a bill or doing some other innane task. If you’re entertaining, these are your moments to be creative and spontaneous. This isn’t a talent you’re born with, you can learn to riff!
4. Nothing beats practice. It’s hard to find material that’s perfect for both restaurant work and stage work. It’s even harder to break in this new material when you’re comfortable with your restaurant set. Go through the pain, it will be worth it when you get that stand-up gig and it’s as easy as approaching one of your tables.
5. Use creative visualization. Spend some time practicing in your head. It will speed up the breaking in process of the new material. In case you don’t know, it’s been proven that visualization used properly is almost as good as really practicing.
6. When you get hired for a strolling gig and there is a large number of people, try to perform more like a street performer and less like a restaurant magician. In other words, gather large groups and perform a stand-up show. The loud applause will get you attention and the person that hired you will know you’re doing a great job without actually seeing your performance. Furthermore, you’ll get to work on your stand-up show and crowd gathering skills. Before you know it, you’ll be ready for tradeshows too.
Finally, one last tip, don’t stop learning and don’t stop marketing. A lot of people stop spending during tough economic times. It’s one thing to clip coupons; it’s a totally different thing to stop investing in your business. Now is the time to take that comedy class, marketing class, acting class, voice class, or any other class that can help you get an edge over your competition.