It’s hard to keep your ego under control – especially if you are a performer. First of all, you have to possess a certain amount of confidence, daring, and even chutzpah to stand up in front of an audience of 300 strangers. This is multiplied if they have not specifically come to see you and your show. Many of my now 1000’s of audiences had come for a dinner and some speeches or awards. Most are surprised to find they are having entertainment. So, I have to take confidence and chutzpah to a new level if I want to win them over. And since they are usually sitting at round tables, I literally must get half of them to turn their chairs to face me. (Without actually asking them to). 45 minutes later, if I've done my job, I have transformed this assemblage of dinner guests into a laughing, reactive theater audience. (Roving wait staff notwithstanding)
While I'm performing it's easy for me to tell how much the audience is enjoying the show, but it’s always nice if they come up to me after the show. It's great to get to see them up close, shake their hands and hopefully convince them that I do not behave like my lovable-yet-offbeat stage persona once I am offstage. People say all sorts of interesting things to you after a show. Aside from the usual “I really enjoyed the show”, they sometimes feel compelled to tell me about another magician that they saw once, that did this amazing trick that they’ve never been able to figure out!”. But when they say “YOU BLEW MY MIND” or “I HAVEN’T LAUGHED THAT MUCH IN YEARS”, I feel truly happy.
So, a performers ego is constantly getting inflated, the deflated, and sometimes it’s hard to keep an even keel. But, my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE story about post-show comments is something that happened to me in Las Vegas. I had been hired by a company to write and perform a theatrical-style show about their product, using magic comedy and audience participation. The show, which I performed 15 times a day for four days, was such a great success that they asked me back the next year. Only this time they had hired a new marketing firm that convinced my client that they should write the trade show presentation. My client insisted that the new marketing firm use me as their live spokesperson. The show they wrote was your run-of-the-mill trade show presentation, with me standing (in white tie and tails, no less), talking and reacting to a large video screen. No magic, little humor, and not very unique. I, of course, tried my best to ratchet up the entertainment value of the very dry script and the show went well, although it did not generate the response or the number of leads my show the previous year generated. So, here’s the EGO CHECK. Somewhere in the middle of the four days an attendee came up to me after the show and said that the show was good, but last year they had a show that was really great. I quietly thanked him and explained that it was I that wrote and performed last years' show, and that I had nothing to do with the concept and script for this years’ show. I felt vindicated… but only for an short while. For one hour later, a gentleman came up after the show and said that he really enjoyed this years' show, and that it was MUCH better than the one they had last year.
I may have forgotten to mention to HIM that it was I who wrote and performed the last years’ show.