I don’t usually leave a performance and write. I’ve heard it’s a good habit so that you can still have your performance fresh in your mind to sit down and analyze how it went, but it isn’s something I do.
However, about 2 years ago after a performance, I sat down and I wrote it out. But that was only because it was the second worst performance of my life.
While I would absolutely retell the story in a heartbeat it’s much better that you hear it from my agitated self from later that night.
Here is my writing from that day.
November 11 2014
ROYAL F**K UP
Today for the first time in a long time I screwed an entire performance. Not only did I mess up individual tricks, but I ruined the performance as a whole. It’s a weekday night, I came in to Toronto from Kingston to make it to this event (a 3 hour drive). While a perform quite a bit on stage, this was one of the first times that an audience was not at the event just to see me on stage. I was one of many performers who were entertainment for the evening, and the guests all paid LOTS of money to attend this event.
I had a 20 min show, and I carefully selected my set: A prediction card trick, and a mind reading effect with a thought of word from a book, and a prediction trick that arrives at the phone number of the Events host.
When the emcee got up to speak into the microphone on the elegant podium on a beautifully lit stage I noticed something odd. People weren’t shutting up. I mean it, nobody was getting any quieter, no matter what he did, or what shusshsssssss sounds went bellowing through the crowd. He couldn’t hold the room’s attention, either could the speaker after that, or the one after that. It seemed as though the well-dressed high paying guests just wanted to sit at their own tables, and talk to the people around them.
It was now 7:00, I was performing at 8:45 and I was starting to reconsider what I was doing. I mean it was too late to back out, and i’m not that kind of guy. But maybe I can modify my performance. I felt like I wanted to be on stage for the least amount of time to minimize my embarrassment, so it thought it was probably in my best interest to tentatively remove a trick from the set.
8:00 the other performers make their way to the stage one by one to sing, showcase art, with many speeches in between. I knew I was on shortly. I wasn’t feeling confident about cutting a trick so I decided to bring the supplies for the trick with me and decide on stage if I had the audience enough to perform it.
8:20 I went to stage left, attached the headset I specially requested, and got ready. I placed one trick down on a nearby chair beside the stage, and held the other two in my hand.
8:45, they introduced me and I came up with only props for tricks 1 and 2, which was what I had planned. I went out and belted my introduction the way I usually do : “My name is Jonah I am 20, and I have been doing magic for …”
and something surprising happened.
I got everybody’s attention.
It became immediately clear that the audience hadn’t been bored with the speakers and performers, it was that none of them were able to command an audience the way they should have.
None of them except for me.
Finally my years of practicing my projecting, and speaking, and eye contact, and performing finally paid off.
Which would sound like a good opportunity to stand out, if I hadn’t changed my act in the last 20 min to try to calibrate for the audiences lack of attention, and it was all about to crumble right in from of my eyes.
So I began, storming into trick 1, holding the attention of the whole room, laughs and smiles are had by all as I throw a yellow smiley face beach ball into the crowd and stop at different people to select our card. First person asked for it to be a black card, the next specified a spade, the next recipient of the giant yellow ball was supposed to tell me a card, one of the 13 spades.
Normal Jonah, would warn the spectator that he is allowed to pick any spade, but just be weary that If he picks the ace, people might be less impressed given it is such a common card.
But normal Jonah wasn’t all there, my head was in the wrong place so I didn’t mention it. Of course he picks the ace. As I reveal that it was my prediction all along, the crowd goes… well, not wild, but the people that were paying attention clapped. I think they would have been more impressed if it was not the ace of spades, but I was happy with the little win.
As I begin my next trick. I start to realize that I actually have the potential for a good show here, and I should go get the trick I put down on the chair by left off of the stage.
BUT, the trick I was currently performing wasn’t 100%. I mean, it had worked every time I had performed it on stage in my life before, but there was inherent risk that I would not guess the correct prediction, but get very close. Turns out if it screws up 1 in a million times, that night was the one.
I predicted she was thinking of the word FOOLED, which I exclaimed with full belief in my accuracy. However she was thinking of the word FACADES.
I the performer thought they were pretty close, but it turns out the crowed didn’t, I tried to mention that this stuff isn’t always perfect, but the crowd seemed not pleased. I apologized to the audience and told them I have 1 more thing for them (the trick I removed from my show, but left on the chair on the left of the stage).
I walked my volunteer back to her seat, and while on the mic told the crowd I was going to get my final trick from the chair where I left it.
As I arrive at the chair, I realize it’s gone.
The envelope is not there.
Some waiter or waitress moved it. At this point I am basically narrating my life to the audience and my realizations while looking for this envelope. “I don’t see it”, “Is it under here”, “ has anyone seen a big orange envelope?”.
Pretty funny if it was a staged bit, horribly unfunny for somebody who is stalling the inevitable loss of their last trick and the show as a whole.
I run back to the stage to apologize that my prop is lost. I thanked them for their time, thanked the organization, all in high energy. Then I ran off the stage.
The worst part is, I could have done the last effect without the envelope……
To date this is one of the worst events I have ever done. I didn’t think I made any friends, I may have made some enemies, and I absolutely was not going to book any gigs from the event. [UPDATE: That turned out to be false I booked one event, but the guy must have thought it was a comedy bit, or just the sheer size of the audience meant he might not have really noticed].
An overall failure for me, but in times like this I have an opportunity to get some lessons out of it.
As a matter of fact the only thing I can get from this catastrophe is lessons:
- Try your best not to change the show that you planned in the minutes before it.
- Don’t underestimate the skills that you think that you have. Confidence is key.
- BRING ALL PROPS ON STAGE.
- Don’t do tricks on stage that don’t work 100% of the time (without a backup).[2016 Jonah: you were angry when wrote this, you don’t actually mean it].
- If you insist on performing tricks on stage that do not work 100% of the time thus ignoring lesson 4, try not to close your show with them [HAHA, I Forgot I wrote #5, good job 2014 Jonah]
- Headsets are great!
- If you are much more capable than other performers in your ability to command the audience’s attention, try to deliver when they finally give it to you.
ps. Yes, there is a post coming about my worst show ever.