Get Better By Being Worse

I recently tried a new ending for a routine I’ve been performing for over a year.

The routine has become solidly funny and very much in my performing character’s wheelhouse. The routine is similar to a multiple selection routine with cards, in that an ending sequence isn’t needed, but it certainly is a plus. A good ending can certainly help and it puts a bow and applause cue on the finish.

My old ending was good …but not good enough.
To repeat, the routine doesn’t need an ending segment, but I’m convinced the right ending would bump it up several notches.

So like you read, I tried a new ending. I was confident going into it.
“Yeah, this will SCORE!” I thought. I got a little artsy and craftsy, building a flap card for the ending gag. Bounced the idea off a trusted magic. buddy.

“Yeah, this will SCORE!” he said.

At this point, I was looking at a TWO SCORE guarantee!! My magic buddy and me!

Show time arrives.

The new ending (a visual gag) probably took twenty seconds of stage time.

And …
It wasn’t as good as the one that wasn’t good enough. In fact, to be honest, it sucked a little.
Thankfully, it was sandwiched between strong laughs and interaction in the routine that lead up to it and the routine that followed it.
But that new gag? Crap.

Thank YOU, SNL reference of yore.


Eventually, I’ll figure out the ending for this routine. In the meantime, I’ve abandoned the semi-good and not-good ending. Quality of performance over quality of minutes. Every. Single. Time. It’s currently a very well-received routine, but I still want that last piece of the puzzle …some day …must keep trying …

So what’s my point?

If you read my books The Show Is The Mother Of Invention (the reprint arriving from the printer any day now) and my latest book, The Kids Know Best (in stock and shipping), you KNOW how much I value writing magic routines.

With that in mind, I wanted to address a hurdle people have to overcome with introducing newly written material in their show. Ready?

Quit being afraid to die for a few seconds.
(Comedy death is temporary. Great jokes are immortal.)

Bounce the new line or brief bit off some trusted magic or comedy confidantes. This is wise, but is never surefire.

Until you know it will play well, put the new lines in for a few seconds at a time.
If it kills, great!
If it semi-kills and shows promise, fine tune and try again.
If it dies a quick death, get over yourself, learn from it and try again.
If you have sandwiched the new untested seconds between tested and proven seconds of material, you will notice the death much more than your audience, if they notice it at all. Trust me.
This is the path to being a better performer.

Is this fun? Well, to be honest, yes. But it’s only fun if you kill your ego and you embrace it. The greatest comic that ever walked the earth, Norm MacDonald, was known for his wonderfully eccentric version of living this. If he killed in a show, afterwards he’d stay backstage and play poker with the other comics. If he died — and especially the highest (lowest?) level of dying, known as “walking a room,” where people walked out of the show — he would do a meet and greet with every remaining audience member as they left. Hail Norm.

What is the alternative?

Not creating and not writing leads to being a collective clone of other magicians. A collage of others comedy conjuring. Ugh.

This doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to perform classics.
This doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to perform material that is sold by other performers, in fact, that’s often a GREAT idea …hint, hint … visit our store.

It means it’s bad idea to parrot classics. By parrot, I mean doing verbatim performances. Both my recent books have more to say on writing and getting new routines in your show, but let me sum up this post with this summary. Best read in Mr. Miyagi voice.

Killing the ego & dying on stage
is the only way to live forever.

Until Next Time,

Doc Dixon

PS: As always, be sure to visit the store. Here are the two books I mentioned in the post.

PS #2: I just received great news from Joe Diamond, talented mentalist and recent Fool Us performer. This is the kind of reaction that Psychic Cents receives!

More from Dixon Magic …



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