I want to share with you something that absolutely terrified me when I first started performing close up magic.
I was fine strolling around performing close up magic at large venues with 100 guests or more. My main staple work was at cocktail parties and events where guests networked and were served canapés. I would mix of the guests moving from group to group and slowly work around the room. Every now and then I would be booked to do a gig for a much smaller group. I just didn't know how to work a room with only 6 or 7 small groups of people standing around having drinks.
I was often booked for a couple of hours. How was I going to use up all the time moving from group to group was such few people to visit?
Nowadays I don't have that problem because I use a really simple technique I'm going to share with you now.
It's a handy little trick that many professional magicians use to expand a group.
Using the aside.
Something spoken by an actor, intended to be heard by the audience, but not by others on stage
Shakespeare used that device all the time, but my favourite example of it is found in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off and that's how I first discovered it.
If you haven't seen the movie, you really should. Apart from being a classic, it's a great example of using the aside. The lead character in the film constantly breaks the fourth wall by talking directly to the audience watching the film. The other actors are unaware that this dialogue is taking place.
In just the same way, when you're performing close-up magic you can imagine that the spectators within the group that you're performing to are already part of the movie. Everyone else outside that group is the audience.
Whilst you're performing to the group, you pause for a moment and address somebody outside of the group. This will most likely be somebody standing within a group of people behind one of the spectators actively watching you. They're aware that the magic is happening, but they're not part of the group watching.
The aim is to connect with that person and by doing so invite the new group to join in.
There are several things you can say as an aside. The key goal is to let everybody know how much fun your group is having. You're Broadcasting that something magical has just occurred, and something even more crazy is about to happen.
Your aside might be something like:
‘It's going to be really hard to fool these people a second time’
‘These guys here really wants to shuffle cards, should I let them?’
‘I know, I just can't believe I just saw that’
Ideally, the comment should be framed as if the group you are part of can't hear what you're saying. You are addressing everybody outside of the group and letting them know about something amazing just happened.
Everybody's style of presentation different. Some successful close up magicians can get away with being more brash others. That doesn't suit me, so I'd rather pick asides that are pretty modest. In a sense, you're telling everybody how amazing you are, and that they have just missed something absolutely incredible. You might not want to be as blatant as saying ‘These guys have just seen something totally unbelievable, and now I'm going to do something even crazier’ but you are communicating that in a subtle way.
Next time you're performing close up magic to a group, notice the group standing next to, or behind your spectators. There's a good chance you'll see someone glancing over and showing interest in what's happening. Seize the moment, use an aside to engage that spectator and start an interaction with them.
Let me know how you get on in the comments section at the bottom of this page.