“Bert Allerton’s Rules for the Close-Up Magician. “ Part Eight

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We continue with our next point in the series…
“To be a really successful close-up magician you must:”

8. Be a gentleman. Be careful of your manner of speech, your patter (blue material should be avoided), your dress, and you general conduct. Smile graciously and be friendly.

So very important, and so very often ignored… “Working blue” (swearing, using sexual innuendo or foul language) or being rude are easy ways to get laughs. However that kind of thing can only work for a bit…it’s a voyeurism meets train wreck meets curiosity and it wears thin fast (as a rule of thumb the more intimate the setting the quicker!)

I started out that way (over twenty years ago) and I can tell you when I see videos of myself I cringe. I’ve changed as a person and so I’ve changed as a performer. I’ve had people ask me if I could “work a little dirty” because it’s an adult gig and I make them this deal; I’ll work completely clean and if you think you missed a single laugh because of it I’ll give your money back. I just don’t need to work dirty and it wouldn’t fit my personality to do so.

“Smile graciously and be friendly.” Seems really obvious right? But I’ll tell you it’s not common. In fact a genuinely wide smile and welcoming handshake is so rare that it makes a huge impression on people. Civility in general is almost a novelty, but people do still recognize it and respond well to it too!

How to dress…again one would think that common sense could be relied upon. But with the success of Criss Angel there are a new crop of would be performers who believe they can dress in ripped jeans and open shirts regardless of the venue. Your costume is part of your character – but unless you’re Lady Gaga your character should adapt his or her style to the surroundings in which you find yourself.

…and yes, shower, brush your teeth, clean your nails, and tie your shoes.

There’s a small but none the less important point that I would put under this heading as well: In as much as you are able, take the time to talk with your audience.

Think of a conversation you’ve had wherein the other person simply talks at you instead of to you. It’s made even worse when the subject is about them, they’re achievements, awards, abilities, etc. This is an easy trap to fall into for a performer because they’re supposed to be the center of attention…well, sort of.

So for the close-up magician, or the conversationalist, salesman, statesman, or human being take the time to understand you can be the center without being self centered…it’s tricky, it’s often intuitive, but it’s always worth it.