Thinking for a Change #5

Barry Mitchell May 1, 2012 0

Thinking for a Change #5 Children\s Ministry YouthAmazing and Nice, Two words seldom associated with magicians

If you’ve been reading these columns you know I’m presenting a series of articles about the 10 statements that can change your life.  However, I want to take a break and share a story from my Cleveland, OH lecture.  I promise there’s a lesson her for us all even though you may think it’s nothing more than shameless self-promotion.

Before the lecture a gentleman approached me to say he was there with a friend and his two sons.  The boys did not want to help in the show and would appreciate not being asked.  I agreed but asked him to give them a message.  If after the first few minutes they feel comfortable with me and want to help just have them raise their hand so I’ll know.  Less than 15 minutes into the lecture the boys raised their hands to help.  At the end of all my lectures I ask for comments, good or bad, from the attendees.  One of the boys said, “You’re a great entertainer!”  The other boy said, “You’re amazing!”

After the lecture their father told me they weren’t sure they wanted to come because they didn’t want to sit through another night of card tricks.  Their mother arrived late for the lecture and told me that when she sit down her son said, “This guy is so nice.”

You’ve waited patiently through my self boasting so let me share the meaning and lesson I see from these children. 

1. One boy said I was amazing.  Amazing is a word usually associated with Copperfield or an illusion show.  But he defined my simple tricks and stories as amazing.

The Lesson: Being an entertainer is more about personality and presentation than it is about props.

2. One boy called me an entertainer and not a magician.  I know some may disagree with me on this issue but I don’t believe the two are necessarily the same.  Anyone can do tricks but few tricksters can entertain.

The Lesson: How does your audience see you after your show, as a magician or entertainer?  What are you doing or not doing that establishers the audience’s opinion of you?

3. One boy said, “He is so nice!”  When was the last time a child complemented your show by saying your personality is nice?  I know it’s happened before but at the time I was told none of those times came to mind.  Why was “nice” important to the young man?

The Lesson: We can break the negative stereotype of magicians being abusive and demeaning to their audience.  It begins with each one of us.

I want to share a little more about being nice to your audience.  I feel it is a must for children’s and family entertainers to play clean.  Some may feel that it is exceptable for night club or HBO comedians to use foul language and audience insults.  However, I submit that Bill Cosby played and still plays clean and made a worthy career.  On the other hand Richard Pryor is considered a ground breaker in comedy when, in my opinion, all he did was take comedy to a negative and R rated status.

I’ve attended several magic conventions in my lifetime and the number of clean and positive entertainers is a short list.  Many have set poor examples of how to abuse and humilate the audience as well as poke fun at the audience’s expense.  Younger magicians see these examples and hear the laughter and feel justified following in their foot steps.  But I say, Stop the audience abuse and start a new generation of magicians.  Soon the audience will be honoring you with the title, “entertainer.”  Come on, think for a change.

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