AFTER THE APPLAUSE / by Bo Gerard

There’s good work to be done, right after the show.

It all started years ago, when I began performing for senior audiences.  After the show, many in the audience just sat there.  It wasn’t because they were tired, it was because they wanted me to come over and say hello.  They wanted to thank me for the performance and tell me something about themselves, like “My son works in New York City”, or I once saw Blackstone perform.  They wanted to connect!  Having come from musical theater, I was of the opinion that once I “gave my all” on stage, I was done.  Meeting the audience, out of costume and character, had nothing to do with the message of the play.  Anyway, I didn’t care to hear a bunch of strangers convey obligatory compliments.  So, I slipped away into the night.  When performing comedy-magic took over my life, I was still in “slip away” mode after the show.

Then, back in the 90’s, while I was performing at a trade show in Las Vegas, I saw Penn & Teller’s show.  After their final bow, the ran down some stairs into the audience and ran up the aisle.  I thought it was just for effect, but it turns out it was because they wanted to beat the audience out to the lobby, so they could greet and chat with them.  It was an epiphany for me.  Even with all their fame and success, Penn & Teller knew that they also had to connect with their audience on a personal level.

Well, ever since then I have made an effort to stick around a while after my show, so I would be available to any audience member that wanted to come up and connect.  When performing at senior facilities I even build extra time in my schedule, so that I don’t have to rush out.  Walking around the room, and thanking each senior that has stayed, behind has enriched me beyond description.  And I have heard some amazing stories and met some folks that have had amazing lives.  After a family show, kids and parents come up to say they enjoyed the show, but sometimes the kids also tell me their dreams. or ask really great questions about magic and performing.

Meeting with the audience after the show is not about ME, it’s about THEM.  It’s about US.  These personal interactions can be as important and enriching as the show itself!