Christmas is the perfect time for families to get together and relax. Holiday gatherings also give us something that makes some magicians lick their chops: A captive audience.
After all, we love performing, right? We don’t care WHOSE minds we blow, whether it’s someone at a gig, a complete stranger in line at the big-box retail store during shopping or our own family — especially our own family.
As much as we believe in seizing the day and making magic where we can, performing for your family takes a little bit more consideration than most performances.
Your family members are not typical audience members.
It might seem like a family gathering is a great place to test material, or to hone your skills. And you may be right: The family will probably enjoy the show, and you’ll enjoy adding some magic to the holidays. Still, whether you’re just starting out or putting food on the table, consider these points before putting on a show:
~ Your family members already know you. These are people who know you better than you know yourself. They have watched you grow up. They have supported you, and maybe you support them and put food on the table with your magic. Nevertheless, your performance character is just one part of your complete package.
What to do: Make sure you know them and that they are eager to see what you do.
~ Some family members think they have an “in” to your secrets. Most family members will love to watch you perform and be genuinely impressed with what you do. But some just won’t buy it. Because they know you, and know you really didn’t get an exclusive meditation session with a Himilayan yogi (or whatever your patter is), they will needle you during your performance or hassle you after. These can be either some of the most dangerous hecklers, or persistent puzzlers who try to work out how you really did it.
What to do: Same as above. Know who you are performing for. And it might be good practice — if you can deflect your nagging cousin, you should do fine with hecklers at gigs.
~ Don’t expect much in the way of detailed magic criticism. When you perform, most of your family is going to be smitten. They will be so proud of you that you could grab their nose — like your creepy uncle Bob did to you when you were 4 — and they’d believe it. That kind of feedback is great for the soul. Not so good for the act, however, if you are seeking some good ways to improve it.
What to do: Be realistic in what you hope to get out of a performance. You may have great family members who can help your act a lot, and if that’s the case, why aren’t you performing for them year-round?