How Do You Connect With An Audience?

One of the best Facebook pages for magicians to chat is Luke Dancy’s All Things Magic. Great chatter, respectful tone, with very little (if any) snark. Nice place. If you’re not a member, consider joining.

This question recently came up on the page:

What are your favorite ways to connect with an audience during your performances?

That’s a great question and it was greeted with many thought provoking answers. I didn’t want to spill a ton of bloviation on Luke’s page, so I didn’t respond there. Couple that with I’m always looking for great topics to talk about here. Throw in I have no bloviation limits here.
So here we go.

What does connect with an audience mean anyway?

I think there is more than one workable definition, but I think there is an advantage with going with a specific definition, even if it’s somewhat arbitrary. The specificity gives us something to act on. Here we go:

You’re connecting as a magician when the audience wants to hang out with you and have a drink after the show.*

*And I should make clear, this definition is for adult shows, not kid shows. I’m not picturing little Billy saying, “Mom, get out an extra juice box for my new magic buddy.”

With this definition, it’s more than just liking your act. It’s liking you.

Stephen Wright is an all time comedy great. When I see Wright be himself in interviews he seems like a likable, down to earth guy. Seems like it would be great to hang out with him for a few minutes.

But his stand up act? That deadpan delivery of one hilarious non sequitur after another? Is it hilarious? Definitely. His success is enormous and he’s a legend. But I don’t think he connects with the audience in the way I am defining it here.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s simply the choice made by this iconic standup comic. And it’s obviously been very successful for him.

So how can a magician create the kind of connection we’re talking about here?

Fans are not only for the famous
Returning to a repeat client?
Performing at a festival for the fifth year in a row?
The audience has seen a ton of your work on social media?
There’s a good chance you’re connected with them before you even walk on stage. Embrace the conviviality of meeting with old friends.

Affinity
“One of us! One of us!”
Decades ago I worked with a standup comic that was a retired police officer. He occasionally performs at banquets for law enforcement groups. Do you think he is greeted like the returning hero as he walks to the mic? Yep. He kills. And, yes, he’s very funny, but the affinity he has with law enforcement audiences is a huge plus.

Shows where there’s a natural affinity going in are some of the most enjoyable. In other words, let your freak fly a little in finding your audiences.

Be funny
Funny breaks down barriers of resistance. I shared a story back in August 2023 about a woman I met a few days after a show. She said:

“But before the show, so many of us were like (accompanied by a brutal eye roll) — Ugh. What? A magician?!? But you were great!” And I promise you, while I do solid magic, 99% of her “you were great” came from the laughs.

Go back here and read the post, as there is a ton of overlap with what we’re talking about here.

Talk about yourself in entertaining ways that relate to the audience.
I open my show talking about my family, and how I’m a “husband of one, father of seven.” I have jokes about being a dad and husband.

Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno talk about tidbits of life that irritate him. They are, of course, hilarious. We can identify with their irritation. Now imagine if they talked about the aggravations of finding the right person to manage their multi-million dollar car collections. Nowhere near the relatability on that topic.

Be playful
You don’t have to be overly formal and stiff onstage. Play with people. Want a fine example of a routine that accomplishes the kind of fun loving playful interaction I’m talking about? Of course you do. Here you go:

Be kind
Say thank you. Get names right. Don’t punch down. Be grateful. Actually like people.

After the show
Don’t be in such a rush to leave. Oy! Why the hurry? You can pack your props when they’re all gone. Shake hands. Get to know folks. Thank them for helping. Be the welcoming host of your own post-show.

And, yes, I’m sure there are exceptions to every point on this page. I can think of several as I type this. That’s not the point. The point it to think about our acts and the results we produce.

Hope these thoughts help you better connect with your audiences.

Best

Doc Dixon

PS#1: As always, be sure to check out the store before you go.
PS#2: And be sure to check out my new release, 2xImpossible.

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