TEXTING IS THE GOLF OF COMMUNICATION by Bo Gerard

 I hate texting, though I do it anyway.  It’s not because I can’t use the technology, or interface with the tiny keyboard, or because it’s a brilliant way to miscommunicate how you feel, and misinterpret what other people mean;  but because of what it has replaced.

1)  “The Visit” -  Seeing someone in person, and having a conversation over coffee or a meal.  Back in the old days, when humanoids were living in caves, you got off your rock and walked over to the next cave, to see how everybody was doing.  Maybe you even were offered a nice Mammoth burger.  In my youth, you got off your sofa and walked over to the neighbors and rang the bell, saying “just stopping in to say hello”.  And you never showed up without bringing a nice piece of pastry or some cookies.  This is an archaic mode of communication that has pretty much vanished from our lives.

2)  “The Letter” -  This was a big deal, because you would actually sit down and pick out some stationary, and hand write a message to someone.  This pre-Beatles mode of communication reflected on your education and upbringing.  It not only demonstrated your earnestness toward you’re the recipient, it also showed off your personal style and writing aplomb.   The letter was pretty much destroyed by the phone and other more recent modes of communication.

3)  “The Telephone Call” -  This was an adequate way of catching up, and you only called when you had time to talk a for a good long while.  Not as good as the face-to-face, but a close second.  This method is still being employed today, but continues to be hampered with multitasking activities, like driving, shopping or brain surgery.

4) “The Voicemail” -  Once a thing you were excited to listen to, it has now become the scourge of many smarty-mac-smartphone users, and if one is left on their phone it’s rarely listened to. 

5)  “The Email” -  What started out as a digital form of “The Letter” (see above), has morphed into a grammarless missive, that is as badly read as it is written.  But both the email and the voicemail have been conquered and subdued by …

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6)  “The Text” -  Texting is the golf of communication.  Let me explain.  Both golf and college wrestling are considered “sports”. But golf is about as far away from the up-close, in-your-face, skin-to-skin elements of college wrestling as you could imagine.  Texting is communicating, true; but its slangy, punctuation-less, emoji-full, rhetoric is about as far away from “The Visit” (see above) as you can get.  Yet this style-less jumble of jargon is increasingly becoming the preferred method of communication.  Not only by friends and business associates, but by doctors and utility companies as well.

So, yes, I text,  I HAVE to.  BUT I DON'T HAVE TO LIKE IT!  (I don’t have the energy to complain about Twitter right now.)

DEATH OF A travelling SALESMAN by Bo Gerard

With the dawn of the digital age, comes the decline of a profession that helped build the mighty economy of this great country of ours.  The "Traveling Salesman".

A hardworking, enterprising individual, with a gift for connecting with people and gaining their trust, he traveled our great country, meeting and speaking with hundreds of thousands of prospective clients.  He was funny, charming, and determined.  First traveling by horse and carriage, and then every new conveyance available, he visited every corner of the nation, selling his wares to an unwary public.

The modern version of the traveling salesman is the Trade Show Magician.   He is likable, gregarious, and good at gaining his audiences trust.  He demonstrates his magical skill, while reinforcing the company’s message and branding with a boisterous and inviting pitch.  He is a throwback to the traveling snake oil salesman, wide-spread at the turn of the 20th century, though now he is selling legitimate products and services.

However, things have changed a bit.  150 years ago, the salesman was more well-traveled than his audience.  He brought a sense of exotic mystery to each little town he visited.  Now, things have flipped.  Today the audiences come to the trade show from all over the country, sometimes all over the world.  And if the host city is big enough, the client usually tries to hire a local performer for his booth.  The road weary audience is now traveling to the salesman.

What remains the same is that those of us who find we have the right personality to engage strangers and win their confidence, will always have work.  Now we’re just waiting for the "Traveling Audience" to come to us.

MY MAGICAL DAY by Bo Gerard

My life is full of magic... products, that is.

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When I wake each morning, I head to the bathroom, where after my shower I apply Cowboy Magic Detangler to my hair, and spread some Black Magic Cream on my face. 

 

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I follow that up by applying a healthy dab of Blue Magic Pressing Oil to my coiffeur.  As I walk across the house, on the way to my home office, I pour some Plant Magic on my dieffenbachia.  Then maybe I’ll stop in the music room and play the piano a while, thanks to my Chord Magic course.

 

Before I leave the house I always apply my Mouse Magic repellent and a couple of Mosquito Magic wipes, to keep off the pests.

 

 

I then hop into my car, which is always clean and shiny thanks to Auto Magic Professional Car Care. Time to head to the store to pick up my Magic Natural Energy Drink. 

 

Of course, if I spill any of it on the upholstery, I simply whip out my bag of Spill Magic, and I am golden.  Long day, no worries.  I have my box of Simply Magic, and it will not only control my appetite, but my mood as well.  Finally, home after a long day, it’s time for my beauty sleep.  So, apply my Egyptian Magic Skin Cream and hop into my comfy bed; where my Magic Fingers Bed will help me achieve a more peaceful nights rest.  Hope I have some quarters!

ARE YOU THE BEST PERFORMER IN YOUR PRICE RANGE? by Bo Gerard

Deciding what you should charge for your entertaining services can be as hard as playing darts with cooked spaghetti.

You spend your whole career trying to figure it out.  Wouldn’t it be great if it were just an equation like Price = π x Value2 ÷ √Worth?  Well, however you decide your fee, don’t get comfortable; you should be ready to re-evaluate it in a few months.

Standard metrics can help you, like checking out fees of entertainers offering similar services; considering concentration of entertainers in your area; comparing experience, services and branding with your competitor; being sensitive to client responses to quotes you offer.

Of course, some performers really work their pricing magic once they’ve got the client on the phone.  There are those that have the gift, and they could probably sell ice to an Eskimo.  A great sales pitch can convince a prospective client of the inherent worth and undeniable value of your act.

For those of us that are willing to let our training, experience, reviews and professional marketing do the selling, the fee we charge will always be effected by the changing economy, and tastes of the buyers.  Maybe it’s like deciding on buying a house – you don’t want to have the most expensive house on the block. That quality mismatch between your home and the surrounding homes will lead most buyers to pass on it.

So, maybe the old joke is not a joke after all. 
Maybe you do want to be the best performer – in your price range.

MY LIFE AS A CHILD LABORER by Bo Gerard

Except for a 6 month stretch in my sophomore year of high school, I have had some sort of job since I was 11 years old.

When I reached that ripe old age, I told my Mom that I wanted to get a job delivering newspapers.  So, she took me by subway to the Department of Labor Building in Jamaica, NY, and got me my working papers.  I subsequently held many jobs, before I found my way to the world of MAGIC & COMEDY.  They are as follows:
Paper Delivery Boy (2 years),
Stock Boy in a NY Deli (2 years) ,
Electrolux Vacuum Cleaners Salesman (one day!),
Stock boy in a large grocery store (2 years),
Cleaning and Delivery for a Dry Cleaners (I year),
Bus Boy in a fancy Italian restaurant (I year – concurrent with Dry Cleaning job),
Policy Preparer in a large NYC insurance company (2 years), and
Payroll Clerk for the NY Power company, Con Edison (5 years.  Where, by the way, both my sister and father also worked.)

I have always had a strong urge to work.  I was the child of immigrant parents, and although they never pressed me to get a job, it seemed like the right thing to do - to work hard, be independent, and contribute to the household.  My parents never asked for any of the money I made while I was living at home, either.  They did however encourage me to purchase wisely and save as much as I could.  At age 13, after 2 years of delivering the Long Island Press, I had saved $70 in a bank account my Mom set up for me at Astoria Federal.  I learned very early that there was nothing like that feeling of working hard and having something to show for it.

I have worked every day of my life since then, and don’t quite know how I will deal with the day I actually stop.  Maybe I just won’t.  Stop, that is.  Because for all the talent and gifts I may have, there is one thing I know that I am absolutely lousy at… and that is lying around and doing nothing.  I simply must DO!  As the immortal Yoda said. "Do or do not. There is no try."  He might also have liked to say, “Hard you should work, kind you should be, and will happen to you amazing things”.

IS MY DOG IS SMARTER THAN I AM … by Bo Gerard

…because she refuses to be in show business?

We have a very smart dog.  I know everyone thinks their dog is smart, but Coco is wicked smart.  At six months, she could already do all of the basic dog commands – sit, lie down, shake hands, etc.  So, Gretchen started working with her, using the clicker system and positive reinforcement.  Gretchen patiently worked with her every day for months.  Eventually Coco mastered over 20 commands – some of them quite complex – like crawling on her belly, stinky dog (lying on her side and holding her nose with both paws), weaving in and out of Gretchen’s legs as she walked, and many more.  We saw a great opportunity in her and started working on a show called “Comedy Magic Unleashed” – incorporating Coco into a new magic and comedy show.

Well, Coco did great! (in rehearsal) She loved doing the work, and we came up with some really fun routines that used her many talents.  When the show was ready we did a few dress rehearsals and they also went great.  And then we did our first show.  That’s when we learned that Coco was smarter than we were.  When the curtain opened, and Coco saw the audience, she went into protection mode.  100 strangers had appeared and her first priority was to keep Gretchen and I safe.  She was able to do most of her tricks and we got through the show alright, but we learned that when given a choice, Coco would much rather stay at home and be a loving family member, than travel to large, drafty, echoey, venues, and show off her tricks in front of a large group of strangers.

Nine years later she still does all of her tricks, but only for small gatherings.  And every time people see her perform they say, “Why don’t you get her into your act?”  And I say,

“She’s too smart to be in show business."

HOW TO TALK TO STRANGERS IN 4 EASY STEPS by Bo Gerard

A guide for shy performers.

Adele, Bob Dylan, Cher, Freddy Mercury, David Bowie, Elvis Presley and many, many other celebrities were noted for their reluctance to stand around and chat with strangers.  And this phenomenon is not limited to the super famous.  I have personally known many entertainers who had a hard time connecting with people at parties or even talking to audience members after a show.

One of the common misconceptions about introverts is that they are shy. Since the two terms are used interchangeably, most of us have been led to think that they are the same thing.  In truth, introversion and extroversion have more to do with whether we recharge our batteries by getting some peace and quiet, or whether we get charged up from highly stimulating environments around lots of people.  So, you could be introverted, and not at all shy. Or introverted and shy. Or an extrovert, but totally shy and afraid of what others might think of you.

But we all, at some time, find ourselves in a situation that requires us to have long, semi-personal conversations with agents, clients, or even fans.  Take, for instance, the gig I just did in San Antonio.  I was hired to perform my magic and comedy in a hospitality suite for two evenings - five hours the first night and six hours the second.  This company actually gets a lot of business done during these times so, sometimes there was no one to perform for, who was not talking business.  So, I had a choice.  Stand in the corner like a dope and wait around for a likely group to perform for, our talk to the other company representatives that were also standing around.

These folks were chemical engineers, and you would think we had very little in common, but my strategy for verbal intercourse works whether you have something in common with a person or not.  Here’s what you do.

1)  BE A TALK SHOW HOST - Ask them how long they have been with the company.  If the conversation stalls, ask where they grew up.
2)  DON’T GIVE UP - Keep asking questions until you see an opportunity to…
3) TELL A STORY - Inject some info or a story from your own life that is related to one of their answers.  “Oh, you’re from Orlando!  I just came back from Orlando.  I did a show at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort.”  And then you’re off - talking about Florida, weather, travel, whatever!
4)  IF THINGS STALL, GO BACK TO STEP 1 - Just keep asking questions – “I see your name is Jaager – is that a Dutch name?”

What are your tactics to keeping a conversation going with a stranger?

WHAT HAPPENS IN DALLAS, DOESN’T STAY IN DALLAS by Bo Gerard

Over the many years I have lived in Dallas, I have seen many great local acts come up, flower, and then depart our city for hopefully greener pastures.

Dallas is a unique animal.  As many great things as Dallas/Fort Worth has, it has never seemed to be able to sustain some of the other things that other big US cities manage to sustain.  Like the fact that DFW still doesn’t have an upscale gourmet vegan restaurant.  STILL!!!!  And we did finally build a convention center hotel, but we needed it back in 1984.  And then there’s variety entertainers.  Many wonderful artists, that have honed their act here in Texas, have been forced to leave, due to lack of work.  It seems you can make your living as a magician or clown in these parts, but not so much if you are a ventriloquist, whip artist, hypnotist, or grand illusionist.

Now, some of these artists have made a go of it by doing more than one kind of act – like juggler/whip artist, or comedy magician/illusionist, or clown/ventriloquist.  But if you want to do just ONE act, you eventually have to move where the work is – like cruise ships or Las Vegas.

And don’t even get me started on street performing!  Busking opportunities are non-existent in this area.  So, if you’ve developed a great street act, you better go looking for a street in NYC, or Los Angeles.

I’m not saying that Dallas isn’t a world class city.  I’m just pointing out the fact that Dallas audiences have their own unique tastes.  And though it’s a great city to live and grow in, if you want to make some coin, your act may eventually have to go on the road.