Bill Malone, one of the most influential magicians of our time said it perfectly and this for me epitomises magic and the performer. When Bill Malone was asked to give one bit of advice for the up-and-coming performer he warns that you must not… MUST NOT get an ego when you perform. When one develops an ego, it is at that point that you stop learning. No matter how old you are or how experienced you are at anything… not only magic… the minute you think you know it all – you stop learning.
I personally have a huge problem with arrogance. In general I loathe arrogance, but especially in magicians. Nothing turns me off more than watching a magician with an attitude. It makes my blood boil. In a magic effect/show/encounter there is a lot of power up for grabs. Power can easily shift to the magician because they are performing somewhat miracles or things that “normal” people can’t do. But if a magician adopts an attitude of “look what I can do and you can’t” it makes the spectator feel inferior and stupid. If you adopt that attitude you will hear a lot of “I feel so stupid!” and other negative comments from your spectators.
However if you try to empower the spectator, make them feel a part of the magic and or course let them walk away with a positive feeling – then they will most likely remember you in a positive light and contact you for their next event. You as the magician do not want to be remembered as an arrogant, pompous and immature performer. It is very difficult to dig yourself out of a hole that you dug yourself.
So how does one achieve this? These are the steps that I believe magicians should take in order to be successful, in order to not be an APE.
1) Your Attitude towards the spectator needs to be warm, kind, caring and of course friendly
When one’s attitude is positive, then the atmosphere is pleasant and enjoyable for all. This also ensures that your audience feels included in the magic.
2) Your effects should have meaningful Patter
I believe that giving meaning to an effect invites the audience to feel a part of the effect. When someone tells you a story in detail you feel a part of the story, you feel the emotions portrayed in the story. THAT is what great patter is and should be.
3) Make Eye contact with the spectators
This shows them respect. You are taking the time to recognise them. They are worthy of your time.
These I believe are fundamental principles that all magicians should incorporate into their effects. They seem quite obvious but often those are the hardest to remember.
I would love to hear how YOU as the magician maintain a positive rapport with your audience. If you are a spectator reading this I would love to hear how you feel when someone performs for you. Was it a positive or negative experience? How did that make you feel?