Becoming Social

Most people assume the real skill of being a full time psychological magician lies in the ability to read or influence people and in general performs feats of perceived impossibility.

These talents are of course essential!

From my experience however, the other main skill-set is having the ability to go into a social gathering, introduce yourself to strangers, have them accept you and want you to stay, whilst demonstrating things they won’t understand in a way that leaves them still liking you at the end!

As you can imagine, some people are more suited to this task than others.

When I used to play music full time, it really didn’t matter what mood I was in when I performed.

If I was tired I would use the music to wake me up, if I was frustrated or angry that day I would channel that into the music thus creating more passion.

Performing close-up magic on the other hand, involves integrating yourself into existing social structures, where no-one has specifically asked for you to come join them, and more or less take over and lead the interaction for a short while.

This means you must walk a fine line by being dominant and confident but in a very respectful way.

It also means that being in the correct mood yourself has a massive effect on the overall outcome of the performance. If you are feeling uncomfortable or you really don’t want to be there, people will pick up on this.

We humans are constantly assessing each other and making unconscious judgements about each other based on tiny little things we perceive.

If for example, someone has something to say to you that you weren’t expecting, if you do not properly listen and respond appropriately – then the audience will deduce that you are merely working to a script and aren’t having a genuine interaction with them in that moment. As a result they will become less emotionally invested and the performance will become less engaging.

The challenge from the performers perspective is that in the course of a single year we can perform the same routine up to 2000 times! Therefore keeping things fresh is both tough but massively essential.

There are many ways I have found to keep myself in state during sometimes long and challenging gigs:

1. I am motivated by learning so during the course of performance I try and learn as much about the people who I am meeting which keeps me switched on.

2. I try to stay in the moment as much as possible. This is helped greatly by meditation practiced in my day to day life.

3. I seek to experience the effect I am showing people as if I have never seen it before myself.

4. I make sure I have eaten well that day and had enough rest and exercise.

5. I try to focus on having fun myself, instead of thinking about ‘trying to impress’.

6. I make it my mission to try and leave everyone I encounter feeling better about themselves.

7. I rob everyone blind as I perform.

I should point out that item number 7 is only partially true. I did go on a theatrical pickpocketing course many years ago and I do like to raid the pockets of my unsuspecting participants.

But I almost always give everything back.