Was it Luck or Preparation?

Conjurer's Coffee Break - Episode 002


- Hello, and thanks for joining me for this second episode.

- I mentioned in the last episode that I've started doing some some stand up comedy.
- That's something I'm going to talk about today.
- Right now, I don't know where I'm going with the comedy, I just want to explore this new art form.
- If I have any goal, it's simply to become a better performer.
- I want to see how to make people laugh and to see if I can do that by itself as pure stand up comedy and to see if those lessons can be brought across to my magic.
- You might remember that the motto of these podcasts is, you build a better business when you become a better performer

- So, I want to tell you about my first stand up comedy gig.
- I was surprisingly nervous, which confused me a little bit because I've been on stage hundreds of time before and I'm used to speaking to people.
- But then again it is something new.
- Anyway, I got a a touch of butterflies, and I remember that one of the things swirling around my head was this thing about staying to time.
- I had read a lot about how you have to stick to the time you're given.
- If you do less than you're asked to, someone has to fill in for you, and if you do too much then you're sterling from the other acts.
- So, I was pretty concerned about that, and especially this idea that I might get flashed a red light or someone would shout at me to "get off the stage!"

- But you know what, when the day rolled round, I realised that not only was my friend the MC for the night but also it was a very relaxed show.
- No-one was going to be that concerned if I did six minutes instead of five, and at the time we're talking about I definitely didn't have enough material to do twenty minutes.
- I'm still working on that.

- Anyway, this episode isn't about creating your own material, but I will talk about that in the future.
- I think that's something that could be really beneficial for you.

- Back to the story about my first comedy performance.
- I set myself a simple goal to perform the routine.
- That was it.
- If I felt like I had performed it and not just recited it, I would go ahead and call that a success.
- So, guess what?
- All that worry about the timings, had been for nothing.
- When I replayed the recording the night after the show, I found out I had done exactly five minutes, bang on, not a second more or less.

- I know what you're thinking, that's just beginner's luck, right?
- Maybe, but I was speaking with a friend after the show and they said, maybe it wasn't just luck.
- You it could have been all of the preparation and the practice I had done before.
- And it's true that I did get a little bit obsessed for about a month before hand with writing, editing and rehearsal all for that that first five minute performance.

- So, here's the question for you, was it luck or preparation?
- What do you think?

- I put it down to this idea that prior preparation prevents poor performance.
- Maybe you've also heard, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
- And I get it, that a saying like sorta sounds trite, but you know it it true.
- If something is important to you, you'll put in the time and effort to make sure things go right, right?
- I've mentioned this previously, but you owe it to your audiences to give the best performance you can and, in my opinion, winging it just isn't fair on anyone.

- So, ffind your weaknesses, and work on those in order to improve.
- Whatever it is, you can take time now before the show to prepare, so that when the time comes to perform you've already solved most of the problems.

- I really like this idea I heard once, which was to run a 'pre-mortem' - that is to think in advance about as many things that could go wrong, and decide in advance how to solve them.
- I guess it's a risk assessment if you like, and it can be broken down into a few categories.

- Number one are the show stoppers.
- These are the problems that if it occurs, it's going to severely impact the show.
- So, like a key prop breaking or part of your costume breaking.

- The second category are the most likely problems
- These are less serious but more likely.
- In magic, the classic one is someone forgetting their card, and a good general one is something like getting stuck in traffic.

- If while you're doing this you come across a problem that isn't likely to actually happen, and / or is a problem you can't control, you can ignore.
- There’s nothing you can do if a tornado blows through the venue, and if it does, it's not just going to be your problem but everybody's.

- So, then you look for solutions.
- I'll talk briefly about the examples I just said.
- Could you take a spare prop or a replacement part?
- So, when I'm performing on stage, I have a routine using nametags, and I always carry a few spares with me in case the audience member writes on the wrong part.
- Also, if the audience is different to what I was told, so like more or less people, or a different age range, I have several routines I could swap in to meet the need of that show.
- It's important I think that kind of flexibility of material is really important for a professional performer.

- Just quickly, for the less serious problems, you could ask that the card be shown around so that other people can remember it too, and you could plan your route, leave early and check for any traffic delays.
- Hopefully you can see that the less serious ones are usually easier to solve with a bit of common sense, but it's worth taking a few hours to work through that exercise.
- Even better if you can do it with a friend or colleague.

- So, thanks for listening.

- You can find out more about me on my website edsumner.com, find every episode at edsumner.com/magicians and you can subscribe to future episodes wherever you get your podcasts from.

- Thanks for listening and hopefully you'll listen in again.

Additional Show Notes

- Since recording this one, I've remembered this quote about luck or preparation, attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca, and I believe also a favourite of Paul Daniels.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity


- I've also learnt that the pre-mortem term (although, I doubt the idea of a risk assessment is new), comes from Guy Kawasaki's book Enchantment.

So, for more detail check out...

Enchantment - Guy Kawasaki


Riskology page about the Pre-Mortem Technique (mainly for projects, but you can elaborate!)

Related podcasts

- Episode 001 - What do you really want?

- Episode 004 - link to come.

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