Busking routining/ walk around routining

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by Tym68, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. Hi, I was looking for some help on both busking routines and closeup walk around routines in these aspects

    1. What tricks go down well for these two scenarios (mainly for busking)
    2. How long are your routines for each of these situations
    3. Do you guys/girls stick by the 3 sets of 3 thing or how many tricks do you do in a busking set or for one table
    4. How many sets do you get ready to perform on one night

    thanks for the help
  2. I can only really comment on close-up street routines.
    To start off with I usually do an ACAAN with a thought of card, I then use the same card (sometimes signed but doesn't really matter in my experience) in different effects (Makes it seem more fair). My routine spans depending on my spectators, you can tell when the initial buzz wears off. I have one closing trick that requires me to palm two cards onto the bottom of the deck, (I'll do this at the end of the previous trick while they are distracted). This trick ends up with them holding a playing card from a separate deck, normally one of my old decks so I let them keep that as a memory.
    Most places I go don't have a table and I don't recommend using the floor so probably avoid those tricks. I have one set for when their is exactly 3 spectators but I don't really have that much other stuff.
    I recommend not putting all your 'best' tricks in the set, as sometimes a new spectator or group of spectators may join late, so you can show them a few tricks on their own.
    None of my tricks require resets except replacing the palmed cards to my pockets.

    (Also, I know it wasn't in your question but I enjoy performing Optix as a video is a better memory imo)
    - Sorry I didn't answer your questions exactly but I hope some of that helps. But you should get your on style and see what works - your audience may be vocal enough sometimes.
    -I also don't perform for money so maybe that might change some things. (Though I have still been given money voluntarily at the end of a trick/set). You don't have to finish your set, if your audience is bored or restless or maybe they have been blown away enough already then move on.
    -You will also find people wanting to learn a trick, I perform a self-working card trick or something alike saying that they did it themselves.
  3. Thanks so much for the advice, and just wondering what ACAAN do you use
  4. I'll shoot you a DM
  5. 1. What tricks go down well for these two scenarios (mainly for busking)

    Avoid card tricks that don't go outside the bounds of a normal deck of cards. For example, ACAAN, Ambitious Card, Pick-a-Card/Lose-a-Card/Find-a-Card tricks, Ace Productions. Magicians love those effects more than muggles. If you use cards, go with effects that have something memorable -- card under glass, Rainbow Deck, Card to Wallet, effects using blank cards or different colored backs (Bannon's fractal packet tricks).

    For busking, go for effects that project beyond your hands and for table-hopping / walk around you include (but not as your first effect) effects that draw the audience in more closely to what you are doing.

    Have variety in your props. Don't just use cards, but include sponge balls, coins, bills, rope, linking rings, etc. If you are tempted to do just cards, remember the story "A magician asked me if I like card tricks, I said no. He then did three card tricks."

    For now, based on COVID-19, use routines that don't have people touching your cards, sponge balls or other props.

    Ultimately, the best tricks are ones that you like and that fit your character.

    2. How long are your routines for each of these situations
    3. Do you guys/girls stick by the 3 sets of 3 thing or how many tricks do you do in a busking set or for one table
    4. How many sets do you get ready to perform on one night

    Walk around, use three effects at 2 minutes each. Have a fourth effect planned for an encore. Have four sets planned.

    For busking, you want a show that is around 15 minutes. Have three 15 minutes shows planned.

    5. What else do I need to know that I didn't ask?

    For table hopping / walk around, pay attention to pocket management and quick reset. Make your first effect something that is verbally interactive, where you ask questions and listen to the responses. Talk first then do magic. Develop your presentations so that they are more than say-do-see patter.

    For busking, select multiphase effects that draw the crowd in and encourage participation. Always treat your spectators with respect.

    The goal is to have them remember you as well as your performance.
    JoshL8 likes this.
  6. Why several shows? With busking, don't you get a new crowd automatically after you've ended your first show?
  7. Depends on the setting, but not really. For streets - You do the show, pass the hat, let the crowd disperse, wait for new people to show up, build the crowd, do your show - rinse, repeat.

    For something like a ren faire you have set time slots.

    For both situations it's good to have more than one show, because if someone saw you earlier and sees you again, and it's new material, they may tip again. Also, "first time is a miracle, second time is a lesson" - if someone sees you show twice and it's the same thing, they're probably going to slip into trying to figure out methods instead of just enjoying the performance.

    For the OP - I hate doing walk around so I have very little advice for that. I've busked a lot, though, and in several different styles. I started as a classic magician (gasp!), I've done bizarre magic and mentalism, and currently do one show that's a duo-sideshow act with my wife and another that's my solo material, which I think of as bizarre mentalism.

    Tricks that are good for busking are generally simple, engaging, visual, and easy to understand if you come in halfway through. So like, producing four coins, putting them through a table, then vanishing one at a time - each moment of that can be understood, even if you haven't seen any of the previous phases. Cups and balls/chop cup - same thing.

    If you're going to do card tricks, make sure that if someone walks up halfway through they'll still be interested to see what's going on. Because if they walk up and it's not immediately engaging, they leave, and you have no chance of getting their money.

    Remember: There's no obligation for a busking crowd to stick around, so you have to be more satisfying than any of their other options.

    Don't worry about trying to hit a certain length. Worry about being entertaining and engaging. A super entertaining 8 minutes will get you a bigger hat than 15 minutes of mediocre material where you were trying to fill time. Start small, and engaging, and build up from there.

    My routines are longer than most - anywhere from 5-12 minutes, but a big part of that time is that I'm talking with people and engaging them with banter.

    I select material in accordance to the time slot I get as well as the environment. For the ren faire I do, we currently have 30 minutes of performance time so I do anywhere from 3 to 6 pieces, depending on what I am working on and the crowd. Generally probably about 4 routines is normal for me, because as I said I do longer routines. For the sideshow act we do about 5 pieces for 30 minutes.

    I know a guy who does a whip act. In a 25 minute show that consists of 2 fancy whip cracks, one set of cracks where he hits a target held by a volunteer, sprinkled through 22 minutes of stories and banter and whatever else he comes up with. He legit did one show where half of it was leaving a rubber chicken on a chair with a newspaper, as it were reading the paper. Then every couple minutes he'd go flip the page. But he's funny, so people give him buckets of money every time.

    The few times I did walk around, I stuck to 3x3+3. Meaning 3 sets of 3 tricks, then 3 special things I would only do maybe once a night each. For busking, I prepare two shows of any given type and alternate them. So at the ren faire I do in CT I do a solo show in the morning, set A sideshow early afternoon, set B sideshow late afternoon. This way you can encourage people to come see ALL your shows, and tip you each time.

    So here's some of the big tips I've learned after years of busking and watching other buskers -

    Successful busking has little to do with your material. If you watch seasoned buskers you'll realize they actually do very little material, the vast majority of the show is bantering with the audience. In other words - the busker is the performance. The things they do are just like illustrations in a book. What people come to see is the persona/personality of the performer.

    The style of performance that works for busking doesn't tend to work that well outside of busking, with a few exceptions. Basically, if the performer is more of a stand up comic that also does magic, then it can work for a small crowd. But the kind of interaction you get with busking doesn't really happen anywhere else. The reason I bring this up is that if a performer starts out busking and gets good at it, they are going to have to make significant adjustments to jump to another kind of performer (such as parlour or stage shows).
    JoshL8 likes this.
  8. Making it 3 am here in Germany ... *sigh*
    But you have fun there, Josh!

    Have you ever seen a silent busker? Not as in speaking softly, but not talking at all? I'd imagine that it's possible, but way harder than the alternative.
  9. Thanks for all the responses and advice
  10. Yes, but I can't recall ever seeing a magician busker that did a silent act. There's plenty of mimes, human statues, or jugglers/clowns that do basically silent acts and just leave a 'hat' or tip bucket out.
  11. Sorry, I should have specified. I mean silent busking magicians.
    Apart from the question how advisable that would be (considering the alternative of talking), do you think that could be done well?
  12. It probably could be done, yes. It would just be challenging to maintain interest without verbal engagement.

    I think that approach would work best if you treated it more like a musician or juggler. Meaning instead of doing set shows, the performer just basically keeps rolling with the performance and has a tip bucket out that they occasionally point out.

    Now that I'm thinking about it I can imagine some ways to engage the audience without having to speak. Just more physicality. It's still going to be difficult to do anything of length just because you are going to be challenged to engage with banter-esque behavior without words. I'd watch a bunch of Teller, Tapeface, and other mimes to get ideas.
  13. Could you expand on that?

    I believe Teller once even mentioned that he started out busking (at least occasionally) on college campuses, which is where he expanded on his idea on remaining silent.
  14. So, if you watch your normal magic show busker, you'll see them gather a crowd, do their show, pass the hat. Wait for the crowd to disperse, reset everything, repeat until they have as much money as they want, get bored, or get chased off.

    If you watch a musician they tend to just play songs, with a case or bucket nearby for people to toss money into. They're not getting up there and doing a set, usually, they just play what they know until they get bored, get enough money, or get chased off.

    I've also seen contact jugglers and other forms of object manipulation do that sort of thing.

    It's probably easier than I'm even thinking, but since my style is very, shall we say, verbose, I have a hard time imagining what could be done to hold a crowd's interest through a 'show' to keep them until the end and get tips. I feel like it would be easier if you were just free styling and having people toss money into a bucket or whatever, like a musician would.

    Of course, the more I think about it the more viable it is starting to seem. I can imagine using using signs and such to give instructions. Jokes would have to be more visually oriented.
  15. I see what you mean. If you earn your living busking, this might not be the best way, but it might be fun to do occasionally for the amateur (as in "non-professional").

    What exactly would this look like? I'm thinking about Teller suggesting amusing things via his body language (e.g. his needle swallowing routine, where the needles seem to make him slightly drunk); is this what you mean?
  16. Honestly, it's not in my wheel house to describe that. I can think of things that would be funny to see, but would absolutely fall flat if I described them in text. I can't figure out how to put, "have well timed sarcastic expressions" into words that actually make sense to anyone else.
    Arconik likes this.
  17. Haha, understood :D Anyway, thank you for all the help you've given here!

    Wait, one more question: One thing that's always befuddled me is that street magicians so often seem to break the rules that are put in place everywhere else, regarding spectators: don't make fun of them, make them feel comfortable (no sarcasm, as far as possible), generally make them the stars of the show. Many street magicians, including the most successful, seem to do the exact opposite, making fun of people in the crowd, assigning them the back end of jokes and generally behaving more like hecklers than any layman I've ever seen.
    Do different rules of audience management apply to busking than to other kinds of performance?
  18. The dynamic between the crowd and performer is different for sure.

    For one, a busker cannot lose control of the audience at all. You have to be able to react to what the audience says and does, but you can't let them take control from you or you lose your pay day.

    For a long time that sort of 'insult comedy' style of performing was really popular because it let the performer stay in control. And in the US that was considered very funny for a couple decades. But these days it often comes across more as rude than funny, and with political correctness it's getting very tricky to make those kinds of jokes without legitimately offending your crowd.

    But regardless of the style of humor one has, when busking it's absolutely required to have a nice set of comebacks and one liners to keep the audience in check - and hopefully laughing. It's not something I need to do very often because of my very chill performance style, but even I have used lines like, "You know, I checked the script, and you don't have any lines in this show." My friend Daniel has a ton of them. I remember him saying stuff like, "Oh, neat, I remember my first time drinking, too." It's all said with a smile and wink and generally people understand it as politely saying shut up and let me do my show.

    Each person has to develop their own style of humor, of course. But I don't know of any successful buskers that don't have a lot of humor and comedy in their show. But the particular style of humor has to be matched to the performer, show, and environment.
    MohanaMisra likes this.

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