Thoughts on products, performance, and doublethink in the magic community.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Before You Speak...

I wish I could make some crazy post involving automatic weapons, bicycle cards, and hot girls. I came up empty, but here's something else.

I got hired to do a birthday show this weekend. I called the mom and informed her of the duration of my act (30 mins.) and the price. She accepted and everything was fine. But then I totally screwed things up by asking:

"Is that an acceptable amount of time, or did you want more?"

I didn't even realize that I said it. I have never asked this question before, and I have no clue why I said it. I guess I was trying to be polite, but nonetheless, it just flew out of my mouth.

The mother, of course, jumped at the opportunity to have me babysit for longer. She asked me to do an extra fifteen minutes, making it a 45 minute show.

Before I even processed her words, I blurted out and agreed. Once again, I have no clue why. My brain must have been on autopilot. And no, there weren't any drugs or alcohol involved.

I raised the price by a nominal amount, nowhere near enough to make it worth my while. Autopilot again.

After I hung up, I realized that there was no way that I was going to effectively entertain a bunch of 10-11 year old kids for three quarters of an hour. I'm not a professional entertainer and I don't have a huge warehouse full of tricks.

Even if I did have those things, it still wouldn't be humanly possible. Kids' attention spans are an immutable fact of the universe, like protons and electrons, or relativity.

I got hold of the mom back a few days later, and offered to do balloon animals or games before the actual show. No luck. She insisted on 45 minutes of straight magic. And it wasn't like I could back out of the agreement.

I got over my denial and dug deeper into my magic box, finding a few suitable things. I also went to the magic shop, so conveniently close, and asked the owner for advice. He was nice enough to reccomend some tricks and strategies for managing the kids.

Still, a 45-minute kids show is a dangerous thing. It stretches a kid's attention span to a dangerous point, where it's liable to snap and destroy everything in sight. Including my fragile reputation as a birthday entertainer in this town.

This entire week, I'm training hard to prepare myself. I wake up at 6:00 A.M. and do 500 false transfers with a sponge ball. Then I practice cutting rope for 3 hours, with a buddy as a spotter, of course. I spend the rest of the day practicing self-defense, just in case the kids try to pull any crazy Lord-of-the-Flies shit on me.

In all seriousness though, I've learned my lesson. From now on, when I call someone to negotiate a show, I'll have a script that I read from. In front of me. Carefully. No more autopilot.

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