corporate magician, corproate entertainment, corporate mind reader, corporate mentalist, corporate event entertainment, conference entertainment, corporate magician, interactive corporate entertainment

She Got It

A few months ago, I presented an evening of mind reading at a venue in San Francisco. We had about 150 people in the audience. A very sophisticated and savvy group. 

Over the past year, I have been working on a new closing piece for the show. It's rarely seen anymore because it's challenging to perform well. I've only performed it a handful of times over the course of the year, mainly because I don't always have the right audience and venue. 

But this audience in this venue was perfect.

I think a lot about the shows I perform. I think about structure and theme and plot and character. Then I work things out to try to convey these thoughts. I tend to err on the subtle side, but I think about it and try to convey.

Anyway, I started thinking about this show, considering things about it a couple of weeks leading up to it. So I had invested time and energy into it. Then the big night is here. I arrive early. Set up the stage, check my mic. The audience arrives and I'm introduce and we're off. 

An hour into the show and things are going well. It feels good. I think they're getting it. Then the moment arrives to introduce the finale of the performance. The piece I'm most nervous about and have been thinking about for over a year. 

This piece involves everyone in the audience. At least those who want to participate. Before the show begins, they each write something specific on a piece of paper, fold it up and drop it in a bowl on stage. My job is to reveal those secret thoughts without reading them. Everyone one is invested in this piece, not just me. See? Challenging.

So, we dive in. I begin with the first revelation when I hear it. "Is that...the fire alarm?" I think to myself. "Nah. Can't be."

A beat goes by and the stage manager comes to the foot of the stage and asks everyone to make their way to the exits.

Dammit.

We make our way outside and wait for the fire department to give the all clear. It takes about 30 minutes. I make friends with some of the audience members and we have pleasant conversation. I'm not sure who is more disappointed. I think it's me.

A couple of weeks later I'm back in the venue -- I have a weekly residency there performing casual close-up magic. And one of the audience members who was at the show, is back to catch some magic. She asks me a bit about the final piece of the show and I walk her through what was supposed to happen. She says that based on what had they had seen leading up to the finale, that was the only inevitable place the show could have gone.

Wow. She got it.

What Are You Afraid Of?

Apparently, the thing we fear the most is public speaking. The fear of standing up in front of a group and giving a speech or making a presentation, out weights even the fear of death. Think about that for a minute. That’s big.

I spend a lot of time in front of groups and I get nervous every time I’m waiting in the wings. I’d get really worried if I didn’t!

Why am I telling you this? During a recent performance I noticed something happen in the audience that bugged me and wanted to share it.

So, last night I performed at a corporate event in San Francisco. This was the 20th anniversary of an investment company and they brought a team from the east coast office for a weekend with their west coast counterparts. I performed walk around magic during the cocktail reception and a 30 minute show after dinner.

Right at the top of the show I ask for someone to join me in the front of the room. One gentleman began waving his arms and pointing to a colleague that sat next to him.

“Pick her! Pick her!”

Not sure why exactly, but he was very enthusiastic about having her participate. She, on the other hand, not so much. In fact, she was doing everything in her power to make herself small and invisible. She tried to pull his arms down and failing that, she actually got up and scurried behind some other people at her table.

The last thing I want to do is bring someone up who does not want to be up there. She looked extremely uncomfortable with the idea, so I told her she did not have to participate if she wasn’t comfortable.

So the performance continues and about halfway through I ask for another volunteer. And the same thing happened. Again the man waved his arms and pointed at his colleague. Some of the other guys in the room cheered her on to participate as well. And again, she scurried out of her seat and this time crawled around to another table where she spent the rest of the show cowering behind a sympathetic coworker. She didn’t actually sit at the other table but literally crouched behind a couple of people.

This morning I recalled the performance and thought, “what a bunch of assholes.”

I get it. You’re having a good time with your coworkers and friends. And I can see how you’d think it might-possibly-sorta-kinda would be fun to put someone on the spot. I don’t necessarily agree with you, but I get it.

And let’s not even mention the fact that you’re making my job more difficult. There is a rhythm I’m trying to establish during a performance. Creating a spectacle out in the audience to grab attention serves nothing but your ego.

But, most importantly, when it’s clear that someone is in distress over your actions or perhaps has a fear -- a genuine fear -- like being in front of a room of people, and yet you continue to harass? Well, that’s just plain mean.

Know that if I’m lucky enough to have you in my audience you will be made to feel comfortable and treated with the respect you deserve. Even if you’re an asshole.