• Do Magician’s get nervous before performing?

  • May 27, 2019

  • This may differ from magician to magician, but personally, yes, I get nervous before every show. Well, almost every show. For the vast majority though, I am racked with nerves, whether it is a stage performance, close up, or even a small intimate group for a parlour show.

    The nerves start from the moment I wake up that day, and I start preparing for my gig. I double, triple and even quadruple check everything as I prepare. I make sure my shoes are polished, I have my suit to perform in, accessories such as cufflinks and rings are packed, every single effect I might perform has all the props it needs, the props I'm using are clean and ready to be used; the list goes on. I have to ensure that my transport to and from the gig is prepared to go, particularly if it is a fair distance away. I check this by working backwards from the time I need to be ready to perform, leaving time to get changed and set up, along with plenty of time between each leg of the journey.

    I take the nervousness as a good sign. It is my brain's way of telling me I need to be sure I'm ready as I've had some shocking mistakes in the past, and from them, I have learnt many valuable, and occasionally expensive, lessons.

    I once turned up to a gig to perform, and I had forgotten to bring any decks of cards. Very embarrassing, but the client was very understanding and was able to lend me a pack from his house so that we could continue with the gig. I offered to discount the fee to make up for my blunder but in their own words,

    "It actually made the magic more impressive, because those were OUR cards!"

    I had the rest of my props with me, so I was able to entertain the guests as well as I would have on any other day.

    As a magician without a car, something I am rapidly trying to rectify, my driving test is booked for later this year, I have to rely on trains and taxis to get to gigs that are further afield, and occasionally have to stay overnight in the area. I'm always very upfront with the client about this and include it into my costs for the night to avoid surprise fee jumps.

    I used to double book gigs on a day and got burned as a result. The first client had promised me a taxi back to London after I finished performing. However, I hadn't been explicit enough on this fact, and they dropped me at a nearby train station rather than driving me all the way. The next train was a bit of a wait, and then after getting a taxi as soon as I arrived in London, I got a call while en route telling me that there was no point my coming any more. I, of course, refunded them their deposit and learnt my lesson, but I have never heard from that client again.

    Even with all of these preparations taken care of though, I will still be nervous before a gig right up until I'm performing. Once I start, all the nerves vanish, and I'm one hundred per cent present with my audience. For the first minute or so, my body sweats heavily, my hands shake and I can get a little flustered. This quickly passes as I find my flow, begin performing, and entertain my audience in the way only I can.

    While performing my nerves vanish entirely. I do very little thinking while I am in the middle of a gig, focusing purely on my spectators to make sure that they get to experience every possible bit of magic I can squeeze out of the time I have in front of them.

    So if you're learning magic and get nervous before, or during your performances, don't worry. It is a good thing. Nerves are the precursor to fear, and it is scary to put yourself out there, to show a part of yourself, to exhibit your skillset and how you spend your time. Presenting and performing to a live audience is scary. In a survey, most people put talking in front of an audience as more terrifying than death. So if you can face that fear, if you can embrace the nerves and redirect that energy, see it as the motivating force that it is, you will be able to go on to do incredible things.

    Fear is just your body's way of telling you that you are about to do something new and different. So face your fears and be amazing.

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