The ABC’s of an Act

Get a short, silent, parlor/standup act that doesn’t use a lot of props or specifically require the knowledge of one language. Learn it. Know it. Repeat it in front of live audiences.

Not just paying shows where everyone expects a magician there. Do it out of your pockets, in bars, at festivals, anywhere people gather. Talk with the owner of a bar or club, and ask them if you can come in and present your bit. Try to get a few drinks or some food in trade. But, get out there and do it. See if they’ll play your music, but be prepared to have to work with the dj’s music that is already playing. Try to get an announcement from the dj, but do whatever it takes to create an act that:

A. Gets immediate attention from the audience.

B. Holds their attention and creates expectation.

C. Establishes expertise and dexterity. You say that you’re not a juggler? You could only aspire to be a juggler. Don’t be afraid to be perceived as someone who has put in some time. Or as someone who HAS put in the time. Watch Viktor Kee’s performance, and then come back and tell me that you’ve made ANY sacrifice for your art.

D. makes you a time machine. When you are done, they look at their watch, and realize that the last 10 minutes (or whatever amount of time that you do) went by in what seemed like seconds. The greatest thing to happen is for someone to miss their appointment, because they caught caught up in your act.

E. is silent and leaves the audience wanting to get to know more of you.

F. Establishes your character and your character.

G. Starts with something that is so unique and and original, that when the audience talks to other performance artists in your market hear about what was done at the beginning of your act, they immediately know that it was your act.

H. has so much consistent conditioning to make the audience watch that you will catch their attention, no matter how preoccupied they are, and no matter when they get a glimpse of you on the stage, they will start watching.

I. expresses a unique part of your soul in some way.

J. breaks through the glass wall between you and the audience. Have some kind of audience participation that lets them know that they are NOT watching TV.

K. leaves them wanting more. Not unsatisfied, just wanting more.

L. makes people say that they saw the greatest live solo performer that they’ve ever seen

M. travels small, legally (see ‘no fire, no birds’)

N. makes ex-performer/critics look for ‘excuses’ to dislike your act that have nothing to do with what you are doing on stage, because they feel helpless to ever have that level of appeal.

O. makes you AND the audience have fun.

P. Puts you and your audience in the present, in the now.

Q. makes everyone in the audience wish that they knew you.

R. makes everyone in the audience feel that they know you.

S. is timeless. No matter when they see this, whether it’s 2000 years ago, or 2000 years from now, they will relate and feel that it is happening in the current time and space. On video it would appear that it was filmed yesterday, no matter how many years ago it actually was filmed.

T. leaves them laughing, if possible, that makes their day, either way.

U. isn’t offensive, if possible. However, some performers are just more offensive, by nature, than others. Know yourself, know what you can get away with in ALL situations, because, remember, this will be your intro for EVERY show. If possible, just make it universally presentable… that is the major constraint of this proposal.

V. establishes a repoire between yourself and the audience.

W. makes other performers hate you, just because you own them

X. uses props that need no explanation, universally recognizable.

Y. uses elements of mimes, European clowns, Keaton (both), and Chaplin. Study and feel them.

Z. makes you smile, even if your character is an angry French mime clown, at least inside.

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