Howdee, I’m Barry Mitchell and I’m honored to be a contributor to the new Kidabra International publication. Since I’ve been given this unique platform I pledge to give you my best creative thoughts, ideas, and suggestions to improve your entertainment hobby or career.
My objective is to inspire you to think. Not just to think as an exercise but to think for a change in our world. A change toward excellence in entertainment. As I reflect on my career so far and lifetime goals I’ve discovered that my thinking is focused in changing the face of magic in three areas. I desire for magical entertainment to be more positive, more creative, and more entertainment based. I’ll cover these catagories over and over in the months ahead through these articles.
Let’s begin with a look at making magic more positive. I was booked for a couple days of programs in OK for the Salvation Army. I admit that I was ignorant of what the Salvation Army is and what the members do. Basically, I knew they raised money at Christmas, operated thrift stores, and helped those in need. Therefore, spending a couple days at a Salvation Army conference was a great opportunity to learn what these giving people were really like.
I learned that members of the Salvation Army churches are good people with huge hearts for others. I learned about the powerful positive influence the SA has on the world. And I even learned something about the world of entertainment. That’s the knowledge I want to share with you as we think together for a change. My SA experience gives me more evidence for why the positive approach is always best.
During a conversation with one of the high ranking officials of the SA I was told about the Army hiring Jay Leno for one of their meetings. Obviously he wasn’t available when they hired me. Yes, I refer to Jay Leno from The Tonight Show. Even he has to do gigs on the side from his regular job. That sure does make me feel better about my career.
When Jay was being considered for the show there were concerns about his ability to play clean for the family friendly audience of SA members. The organization was about to put up big money, and I mean big money, to fly Jay on a private jet for 2 hours of comedy. Jay Leno personally called the gentleman who was telling me the story to ease any concerns about the show content. Jay assured him that his show would be much cleaner than anything he might do on the Tonight Show television show. Jay went through his act joke by joke so the SA representative would be comfortable with the content of the program. Jay went on to explain that he understands what clean comedy is and that he would never do anything to offend his audience especially when doing his road shows.
I was very impressed to hear about Mr. Leno’s high standards of clean comedy when working with family audiences. The high ranking official went on to tell me that Jay delivered on every promise and it was a great event for everyone. He felt it was worth every penny they paid to have the famous Jay Leno.
So what did I learn from this conversation? I suppose one might think I learned the importance of playing clean. Actually, I already knew that. However, I was impressed with Mr. Leno for recognizing that what makes it on TV is not necessarily what families want to see. What I really learned was the importance of following through on the promises we make about our shows.
The SA representative said Jay delivered on every promise and everyone had a great time. How many times have we, as performers, made promises to split their sides with laughter, blow their minds in amazement, or offer jaw dropping thrills of illusion? But do we deliver on these promises or do we just steal the audience’s time away from a boring TV show? It isn’t easy to entertain people. If it were easy we wouldn’t be able to command the high fees that we all believe we are worth. No, the truth is there is skill and experience necessary to truly entertain an audience. Not just really nice props. The first skill necessary is to be honest with yourself and then your audience. Be honest enough with yourself to make only promises about your entertainment that you can keep. And be honest enough with your audience to deliver on those promises. When you begin to truly do those two things in your career you’ll begin to notice a slight change in the wind of fortune coming your direction. Now that’s a positive change. Until next time keep thinking for a change.