• Be kind

  • May 04, 2020

  • As simple as this request of mine and it is a request, it is anything but easy. I think most of us go through life and are generally kind to the people around us, but I always found there to be more than just a grain of truth in the saying, “Everyone is an asshole in someone else’s story”.

    If you’ve ever read a book or watched a movie or consumed some storytelling medium, no doubt there are “bad guys” who have stood out in your mind. For me, these were always the bad guys who seemed the most human, the most relatable. To me, it was the villains who had a reason for their behaviour, because they thought they were being the good guy and doing the right thing.

    We never know how long something we say or do may stay with another person. How long it will swill around in their mind, eating away at them. Sometimes we are lucky enough to realise what we’ve done and can make amends, other times we aren’t aware of what we’ve done until its too late or even worse, we may never even know.

    The power of the spotlight

    But what does this have to do with magic? Well, everything. As magicians, when we perform, we hold a unique position, becoming the focal point of everyone’s attention around us. While we enjoy this temporarily alleviated status, it can be all too easy to get carried away with it, getting wrapped up in the situation. We may forget that we are only human and begin to truly believe the hype (DON’T!) to the point where we forget that we are not above our audience, but rather we are there to serve them.

    During these rarefied moments, we can forget how much power we have in our hands. A scathing remark to a heckler might get a laugh from the rest of the audience, but we could do more damage than good. By ignoring the quiet audience members who are interested in being involved in favour of the louder ones, we justify their behaviour and signal that this is the way to behave. Contradictory to what I’ve said in the past, if we get too full of ourselves and refuse to perform to a table that sent us away, even if they request our return, we can feel justified rejecting them in that moment, but leave a sour taste in the mouth of the guests.

    You may even be a magician whose entire act is based around abusing and making fun of the audience, playfully I hope, which is a well known and successful strategy. But it still falls to you to not actually attack your audience, they are your lifeblood after all, but rather entertain with your chosen style of performance.

    Don’t let the pendulum swing too far the other way.

    No matter your situation, or the new and unique situation you may find yourself in, being kind is one of the most important things you can be. Now I don’t mean being nice, though it is important to be nice, but for me, nice means being a pushover and people-pleasing. This is not what you want, as you can turn into a doormat, leading to abuse, overtly or otherwise, from clients who realise they can take you for a ride.

    I just want you to take the time to ensure you do right by yourself, and those around you. This extends to clients, guests, friends, family, other workers and staff, everyone. Believe me, a little bit of kindness to wait staff at the venue you are working can mean you have a team of supporters working around you. And some incredible magic effects can only be done when you have a few extra hands available for some cloak and dagger work. (DO NOT stab your guests!)

    How best to do this?

    So how do you stop yourself getting a little too big for your britches? Continually reminding yourself is one method that has always worked for me. Though my favourite “technique” for getting myself to be what I think is the right level of kindness, is to think of everyone I meet as a member of my own family.

    My family is big, and about to get bigger now that I’m engaged, and every time I meet a new member of the family, my brain pigeonholes them and treats them a particular way. This is a good thing as it is a good pigeonhole. Family members always get treated with the respect they deserve but are never allowed to go too far, and I can’t be a complete asshole, as I’ll have to see them at the family reunion at some point!

    You would be amazed by how small of a world it is in the events space, you will cross paths with other magicians, other performers, guests and staff repeatedly, so make sure to treat everyone properly

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