We Are the Magic Mafia
The performance at the new-student party went well. It was a small, outgoing group of people and I enjoyed entertaining them.
There were a few things I could have done better. My timing, for one. I started performing about 40 minutes into the party. Unfortunately, at this point many of the students started to leave. I totally overestimated their attention span for the party.
I didn't start earlier because I thought the students would want some time to mingle. I expected that after 40 minutes, they would start to feel somewhat familiar with each other, making them more receptive to the magic. I didn't want to be the loud and energetic performer who forces his way into a group of quiet, nervous college freshmen who don't even know each other, let alone their class schedule.
Well, my psychology was off. Most of the students came just for the food. How predictable. What good is a flawless turnover pass when you're no good at anticipating the obvious?
I spent most of the evening performing for upperclassmen and grad-students. Maybe I discovered an inversely proportional relationship between the amount of time a college student spends at a party, and their level of enthusiasm for magic. You can read about it in next month's issue of Scientific American.
But I refuse to let a bunch of snack-crazy teenagers drown this post in negativity. Now let's look on the brighter side.
Every time I go out to perform, I am amazed at how much I can learn from every spectator. I'm not talking about timing sleights or handling hecklers. I mean a spectator's actual advice or insight, expressed explicitly. In less than two hours, people had told me
- a ridiculously cool way to hand out a business card in the context of a trick I performed
- several brilliant one-liners
- insight into the way spectators view the magicians
"Did you have to whack a few people to learn those tricks?" he asked.
That one line made the entire performance worth my while.