Oi...1:10am EST and here I am, sitting on the Axtell forum with this to say:
I'm not sure if this has been brought up or not, but if not, I feel this may be a subject that could help people out. The topic is:
What Have You Learned In Your Past Experiences that Have Made You A Better Preformer?
Since I started the forum, I guess I should start, so here goes.
1) In being a magician for many years I found myself in possession of MANY spring animals (IE: Rocky Raccoon, Lilly the Skunk and so on) I learned that if you treat them like fake animals, think of them as fake animals, the audience will see them as fake animals. If YOU believe it's real, the AUDIENCE will believe it's real. When I would demo magic tricks for a store, I found myself holding my Rocky outside the store, talking to him, petting him, "feeding" him, just like he was real, and the responses CHANGED. If you treat your puppet like a puppet people will look at it as a puppet. Look at Jeff Dunham, he treats his puppets as they are real and everyone gets lost in it. They forget he's a Vent sometimes. (Until his jokes about him being a vent bring it back into light) Chester (my crow) along with (nonAxtell SORRY STEVE) puppets each have a name, a place they sit, and I treat them like they're REAL. Even offstage. If you get into that habbit OFFSTAGE you'll not have to worry about it ONSTAGE. Now I know this may seem like something that doesn't need to be said here, but I'm sure a few people may read it and be like "Hmm why not"
2) Just because you know you messed up doesn't mean the AUDIENCE knows! Once again, as being a magician, preforming for countless people over my short time entertaining I've slowly learned this: The audience DOESN'T know what YOU know! I would be in the middle of card manipulation, drop stuff and get pissed or flustered. If this happened the audience KNOWS i messed up! But if I went along with it, maybe dropped more stuff and looked like a clutz, they think it's comedy added in! Your puppet MAY forget its lines! It happens! If that happens then go with it! The audience DOESN'T have a copy of your script, it DOESN'T have your stage instructions...Don't make a big deal of it!
3) LISTEN TO YOUR AUDIENCE!!! Oh my GOODNESS I cannot stress this enough! Listen doesn't mean "Oh hi what's your name oh Hi SuchnSuch!" No LISTEN to what they're saying! Name's can sound alike! For instence: I did a show where my 5 y/o volunteer came up and stage. I asked his name. His name was Cross (like...y'know...the Cross) But I, either for not listening or whatever heard Ross! Common mistake, right? Sure! But I wasn't listening to him when he kept trying to correct me! I kept calling him Ross, he kept trying to correct me and I thought he just kept saying "Ross" like he wanted to keep telling me his name...It ended up hurting his feelings and making him cry....My friends THIS CAN HAPPEN! We can slip and fall into a rut of just not listening!
4) Don't make assumptions! Because if you make ASSUMPTIONS you are an A** and an UMP will SHUN you...Wait, that's not right...Anyway, don't assume! There are people out there with all kinds of disabilities, handicaps, and all the like. I got lucky one day and DIDN'T assume, and I realized how much of a difference this made! I had a family come in and there were 3 kids. One of them couldn't see over the counter, so I was like "Hey Buddy! Here let me help you out" and I gave him a stool to stand on. He looked maybe 2 years old, but I didn't go down the whole "Well we don't have anything for your age, bud, but let me show your sister and brother some stuff" I spoke with him, got his name, asked him how old he was. He was 10. His brother and sister were 4 and 6 I think...I didn't assume he was younger, and that made him so happy! Which brings me to number 5
5) TREAT EVERYONE LIKE A PERSON! Just because someone is younger, a child, disabled, sick, or anything DON'T ignore them or talk down to them...But then don't go the OTHER extreme either! Don't lush and lavish over them and make them stand out. Treat them like YOU would want to be treated! Be nice, friendly, kind. TRY to communicate with them! Here's what I mean by TRY: Sometimes you just can't! Why? Because if someone is deaf and you don't know Sign Language, then you can't talk directly to them but you CAN still converse with them, as someone with them will most likely be able to help out. When I was working at my first job ever (Running a food stand at Florida State Fairgrounds) A father and his younger son came up. I sat there and spoke with his son. I knew something was wrong, because of the way he talked. He was deaf, but he COULD read lips! I didn't tell his dad to tell him anything, I spoke to him slow and clear so he could read what I was saying. It was very hard for me to understand him (As anyone who knows a hearing impared person knows, sometimes they cannot speak that well due to their hearing imparement) however, I never once looked at his dad asking for him to translate. I struggled to understand, and yes, I even said a few times "Excuse me?" or "I'm sorry?" and he would repeat himself. And I saw him tearing up and he said something to his dad in ASL and I thought maybe I had offended him. Turns out he was overwhelmed and excited. His father told me that he was always shy to go out in public because people treated him as deaf and wouldn't talk with him. Told him I was the FIRST stranger to ever sit there and carry on a conversation like that with him
6) DON'T GO TOO FAR!! Oooohhh no! Don't due that! I have done that soooo many times and it's just a nono! One of my worst experiences with that was working at the magic store and I was doing a presentation. I had gotten a teen girl to come up (she was with all her friends) and I was doing stuff with her, and just having fun with her. I did a lot of your basic gotchyas and stuff and she started to feel like I was picking on her, so I knew I should stop, and I did...For a bit. I would move on to someone else, but then I would keep coming back to her just to have some fun with her. She was laughing, but I could tell she was getting slightly upset....And Oh My Goodness what happened next was bad. Her friend was whispering to me from behind her "Make fun of how short she is" (Mind you, she was not that short, like 5' but her friends were all a good 6" taller) I shook my head "No" but at the same time I saw a young kid had come up to the front and couldn't see, so I reached down and pulled out the stool. Well the girl thought it was for her and started crying and got so upset and left, and I didn't have a chance to clear things up, and I feel horrible for it...But anyway, yeah...
So folks, PLEASE add. I've not even scratched the surface of helpful knowledge, and I;m sure seasoned vets (mmmm lemonpepper) like Ron, Tony, Santa, and the rest would have a lot to add! Oh and let's not forget Steve!