Magic Appetizer: How to Test New Material
May 6th, 2022
audience, creation, magic, performance, scripting
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This week Jonah breaks down the three biggest mistakes that magicians make when they’re testing our new material for their shows.
If you’re trying to get a new trick better, if you’re performing on open mic nights or putting it in your show, or trying to test material in your stage show, how do you make it better? How do you make it work? And more importantly, how do you make it so that you try a trick out and over time it gets better and better and makes its way into your act instead of you losing confidence in it.
Here are the three biggest mistakes that magicians are making in trying out new material.
Mistake #1: Not Memorizing A Script
There are many ways that you can write a script but really what you need to do at the end of the day is, if you want your trick to get better, you need to have some things memorized. There is a certain type of magic that happens not when you write a script but when you’ve memorized a script and you’re out on stage. There’s a different level of confidence and rhythm to what you do because you are figuring out the pacing and the timing of what you’re saying.
Many people sit and write a script but they don’t memorize it, and you need to know your script backwards and forwards. That is what’s going to give you confidence on stage and that is what is going to give you something to edit when things are not working the way you want it to.
Mistake #2: Not Padding Your Tricks
You need to do something on that stage to build rapport with the audience, and more importantly, build your rhythm with the audience. Don’t just go there and then try something brand new for the very first time. It’s going to feel strange. So if you can, if you have jokes or tricks or lines or sentences, or things that you say that you’ve said before, that you are confident in, then try to put a little bit of that into the new trick.
Before you do this new trick, it makes a huge difference not to just run on stage and try something that you’ve never tried before. The rhythm is going to be very weird. You want to learn what the rhythm is with you talking back and forth with the audience.
And the first time that you write a script, the first time you memorize it, you’re not going to know that rhythm. So put something earlier in the tricks that you can establish a little bit of your rhythm and build a little bit of that momentum with the new Trek and it’s going to help it be a lot smoother in your act. It’s going to make it feel a lot less new when you’re performing it for an audience, because you will have already built some rhythm with them. If you have a trick or a joke or some lines or a sentence that you are used to saying then start with that when you step out on the stage.
Mistake #3: Not Recording Your Sets
If you’re trying to get better than you need to be able to watch your magic critically. And it has never been easier to just pop your phone on a $9 tripod and record the set. When you see standup comedians out at open mic shows, they are recording their sets. They want to watch it back. They want to get the rhythm and the timing right. You should be doing exactly the same. You need to be recording your sets and recording your performances. There’s nothing else to say about that. And then you have to watch them.
You will be baffled by how much better you will get iIf you just commit to recording your sets and watching it afterwards. You’ll make just minor changes and by the time you’ve done it a half dozen times maybe you’ll be making minor changes at that point. Filming the set is the only way to get better. We think that we remember how everything went, but when we’re on stage our adrenaline is pumping and we don’t really accurately remember the situation the way we think we do. But the camera never lies. So record your sets. That is the way to get better at your material and hopefully get a new trick that you’re trying into your set and into your repertoire.
Come See Jonah Live
If you’re anywhere near Toronto, come see The Newest Trick In The Book. It’s free and there are eight magicians on the line up. It’s going to be epic and you should be there.