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.
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.