When It’s Less Than Ideal*

*And it’s nearly always less than ideal.

Today’s post is brought to you by a text exchange I had with a magician buddy during the 2022 holiday show season.

He was performing an after dinner show at a holiday banquet. You know the drill. He’s at one end of the room on a riser in front of a bunch of ten top tables. Now already this is less than ideal, as the nature of tables means about half the audience is seated with their sides and/or backs to him. This is nothing new or unusual, but it is worth mentioning as it is a present challenge for most banquet gigs.

Let’s add in another challenging factor:

The Amazing INVISIBLE Tech Rider!

Yep. You send it weeks before the gig. It’s simple. Nothing about green M&Ms or groupies. Nope. You only need to be seen and heard. Do they read it? Maybe yes. Maybe no. The reality is that many of our wonderful hosts for events are not event planners, but, say, Bob from accounting. Meaning, they have a TON on their plate already and expecting them to cross every event T is just unrealistic.

He and I both had shows that night, and were texting back and forth prior to our events. He was performing at a holiday banquet, as was I. Here’s our last text exchange before show time:

The outcome? We both had happy audiences and happy clients.

Let’s break down what I “reminded” him to do. (I say reminded because he already knew it)

Just March On

After you made what fixes and adjustments you can, just do your show.
My grandfather worked in the steel mill next the to the blast furnace for decades.
My father worked in coal mines when he was fourteen years old.
Given this heritage I am nearly genetically incapable of on job griping.
No whining. No mentions of the bad tech to “save face.” It won’t save face. It will only sound like whining, because it is.
Kick butt. Take names. Amaze. Be funny. Repeat.

Work The Crowd

It’s a shame that crowd work has a bad rep as the tool of hack comics. It’s not the tool. It’s the craftsman. Crowd work is the skill of scoring with jokes and interactions targeted at specific audience members. When done well it’s virtually guaranteed to snap a crowd from apathy to interest.

Why does it work so well? Because a TV set never asked anyone, “So, how long you two been married?” In challenging situations like this it adds an excitement to the show that makes the audience mentally lean in to your performance when you need all the edges you can get.

Want to get better at this sort of audience interaction? Check out my routine Maweege. It fits in a pocket, plays to the back of the room, and it’s both training wheels and a post-grad course in audience interaction.

Lean Into The Verbal

In the shorthand between my friend and I, this meant “at the start of the show be funny without the aid of magic.”
Before they buy into your magic, they need to buy into YOU.

Two things that will help:
Have a chunk of verbal funny at the beginning of your show. Call it a monologue. Call it a few minutes of laughs that work. I don’t care what you call it. Just be sure it’s funny.

Keep your ears on BEFORE THIS SHOW. This is ground I’ve covered before in this blog in a post called Put Your Ears On Before Showtime. It’s covers the importance of listening before a show for unexpected and impossible to plan for comedy opportunities. This is a huge asset in normal situations and can be a LIFESAVER in challenging situations.

Hoping that all your gigs are ideal.


Doc Dixon

PS#1 Coming soon!

PS#2: While you’re here, be my guest and check out the store:



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