Getting A Crowd

Hey guys!

I was thinking of starting up busking. First and foremost, are there any good books anybody recommends? Other than that, I need a few questions answered.

- How do you get a crowd fast?

- How do you KEEP the crowd?

- I do have very good card tricks right now: ACR, two card monte, erdnase colour change, topsy turvy and so on. After I get my order from T11 I'll have eXile and Cookie Cutter, which look like the most perfect ending/starters to a great street show. So material is not the problem.

- I live in Vancouver so it's a big city, and there are lots of places to perform!

Any other pointers on busking would be gladly accepted!

Thanks!

Mehar
 
Sep 26, 2007
591
5
Tokyo, Japan
Actually, TBH, it kind of sounds like material IS the problem. Card tricks don't really sell that well in a busking situation.

For one: Card tricks are overly done and usually the first thing people think of when "close-up magic" is uttered. Everyone has seen card tricks, and even though the effects can be amazingly, for a street side busking situation, you want to be bigger and more visual. For table hopping type busking situations, card tricks are ok, but not if your entire routine is cards.

ACR can be played big, but you can work and invisible deck for a large performance more easily... just not as flashy (as the ACR has more phases to it, meaning more opportunity to see magic happen).

Try to learn bigger and more visual magic, like fiber optic (rope routine), cups and balls, chop cup, linking rings (yes these still work well in modern day magic, just ask Tom Frank). Learn a fast coin matrix, produce jumbo coins, fire can be your friend as well=).

Lastly, for more specialized responses and a lot more in-depth information on the art of Busking, visit the Magic Cafe forum busking page found here: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewforum.php?forum=6&34125
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,772
2,879
- How do you get a crowd fast?

By doing something that catches someone's attention, then getting the people that look to see what's going on to step over.

- How do you KEEP the crowd?

By being good.

- I do have very good card tricks right now: ACR, two card monte, erdnase colour change, topsy turvy and so on. After I get my order from T11 I'll have eXile and Cookie Cutter, which look like the most perfect ending/starters to a great street show. So material is not the problem.

As Tokyo said, this material is not terribly well suited to busking. When I busk I usually don't do any card magic. I keep a deck on me, in case I want to do some card stuff for a special occasion, but my set doesn't include cards at all.

What you want, when busking, is something that can immediately be enjoyed if someone walks up to the show in the middle of a trick. In general I gravitate toward stuff that has multiple climax points, and is visual. I do sponge balls, followed by producing 3 half dollars and then putting them through my table, then vanishing two and bending the last, then a chop cup routine. At any point in my show, if someone walks up and starts watching, they will not have to wait more than a few seconds to see something entertaining.

The problem with card tricks is that they focus on one person, usually, and if someone comes up after the selection is made they have no connection to your trick at all. Either you have to explain to them (and anyone else that walks up) what's going on, or you have to basically ignore them and continue. If you ignore them, they'll just keep walking.

Same problem with eXile and Cookie Cutter. eXile is a very one-on-one kind of trick, it happens in a small frame. Someone standing behind someone else isn't going to see anything. With Cookie Cutter only the people that see the beginning are going to have any real connection to the effect. If someone walks up in the middle, you're just someone eating cookies on the street. Also, repeatability. You're going to do that set several times. How many cookies do you really want to stuff into your mouth in one evening?

TokyoUW has good suggestions for material.

Any other pointers on busking would be gladly accepted!

Thanks!

Mehar

Make two sets of three effects or routines. One will be your 'main' set. It should be about 8 minutes of really solid material. And by solid I mean material that you know so well you can't mess it up. The other set is sort of an encore set. For me, that's when I break out the cards. Get a table and a hat/tip jar. Start performing. When the crowd walks away, start over. When you get home afterwards, think about what worked and what didn't. Which lines made people laugh, which lines fell flat? Which tricks got reactions you wanted, which didn't? How much did you make? How can you increase that? How often did the crowd walk away halfway through your set? (That will happen, don't get discouraged just keep at it) etc, etc. Examine what worked and what didn't, and then go back out and do it all over again.

Busking is a fast and dirty way to get rid of a lot of ivory tower ideals when it comes to magic. We may think that certain things should work but when you're out there trying to hold people's attention you learn real fast what actually does work. It's usually the stuff that people have been doing for hundreds of years.
 
thanks man! I think I'm going to grab stairway, exile, cookie cutter, and coin one, which would work perfectly. I do have a card trick that works with flash paper. I will try and learn some non-cards tricks. Thanks for your help!

Mehar
 
Jul 14, 2010
37
0
i m not sure coin one would be a perfect fit for the busking situation....its more of a close up magic thing
stairway is a good choice though
 
Nov 27, 2009
456
3
I've never actually done the whole busking thing, but I've done lots of street work in other situations. I found that, when done well, some card tricks work nicely, I got crowds of 30+ people using mostly card tricks, I also did linking rings and a few others, but cards and sponges were my staple props.
 
Sep 26, 2007
591
5
Tokyo, Japan
Here is some wisdom that I have gained over the years in my pursuit of trying to take my magic to a more professional level.

I remember back to University and shortly thereafter when I thought, "hey I am pretty good at magic, I should do restaurant work or busk for money." It all seemed pretty logical, because at the time, my understanding of that world was limited to what I saw on TV. For example, I saw David Blaine doing things like 2CM, ACR, Invisible Deck, etc... and I thought, "I can do those too!".

What I didn't realize, which was kind of a let down, was that not all genres of magic work in all settings. The type of magic that I was focusing on was good for showing my friends and family, and some friends of friends etc... but in a commercial setting, it was mediocre to other types of effects. However, the experience of taking my card magic into the streets and public areas, and showing random people, was a very valuable experience that I think you should definitely strive to get. Not all performances will get the reactions you are going for, but there is a lesson to be learned in all performances (good and bad).

If you want to try busking with your magic... by all means go out and do it! You will most likely have a good time, and all though not everyone will truly be into stopping on the street to watch and support you, you will get some curious onlookers and spectators that will have a good time. However, make sure you take away from the experience and slowly integrate new material if busking is something you want to pursue.

If at the end of the day you want to continue with cards and coins, that is great also, but you will have to realize that busking on the street isn't the best venue for you to show your craft. You could however work on a parlor act, close-up act, some walk around, and try to take a step into some restaurant walk-around, strolling gigs at a friend's birthday party or wedding, etc... Maybe your church has a big BBQ! You can ask to be put on the bulletin saying, "local (your name here) will be entertaining us during the BBQ with his sleight-of-hand skill" etc...

I do want to caution you however, if your first and foremost main purpose for wanting to busk is to go out and make some quick money, then you will probably take a bigger mental hit (letdown) if you go out and things don't go so well. If you are wanting to just get some more performance practice, it will be easier for you to keep your chin up in tough situations. Don't let money making be your pursuit, your pursuit should be education and improvement in your craft. The money making thing can come later.
 
thanks tokyoUW. The more I think about my material the more I think it won't suit busking that well. I do walk up too people and do magic to them all the time. My friends always tell me to do it at malls and places. I think I'll see if they're are any restaurants that need a magician. Do you have any tips on what kind of magic people like in restaurant situations? What's the best way too apply? Also, the most important question of all, I am only 14 years old; am I too young?

Thanks for your help

Mehar
 
Apr 6, 2010
256
0
Check out the book: Winning the Crowd by Steve Cohen

It was recommended to me, and i suggest you look into it.
 
Apr 27, 2010
229
0
baller08.blogspot.com
I wouldn't get eXile...it's not very practical especially for what you're attempting to do. It's not what it looks like on video or when David Blaine does it because there are other factors that he has that you probably won't.
 
Jun 10, 2010
1,360
1
does it take a long time too setup?

Kind of ish. More like you don't have all day to perform it once you've completely set up everything to perform it.. It's kind of an immediate trick, can't just walk around with it all day then perform it 6-8 hours later. Busking stuff has to be hard-hitting impromptu stuff that isn't always that angle sensitive, you could have pretty big crowds at some points.
 
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