The Nerv of That Guy
I get nervous before almost every show. Not, “Oh I hope I do alright” nervous. More like, “I think I am going to hurl” nervous. I don’t know why. You would think after doing magic professionally since 2004 confidence would show up at some point. But alas it has not.
Many factors contribute to this; The audience, the venue, the booker, the weather…just to name a few. It’s the things you cannot control that stress me out the most. You never know what the audience has been through in the hours leading up to your show. Did they have a crap day? Have they been drinking? Do they hate magicians? The answer is usually yes to all three.
Grant it, I tend to over think all of these factors. That’s the curse of minor OCD. I need to be in control. The good and bad thing about magic is that you have to be in control for the show to work. So this means going over every beat in your head multiple times to make sure you don’t miss any set up prior to performing. Penn and Teller are smart, they just pay someone to set up their show. I should start doing that. I’m just a control freak…and not rich.
I love when someone says, “How long is the show?”
“About sixty minutes or so usually.”
“Oh, wow! You only work for sixty minutes? Must be nice.”
Yea I am only “working” for sixty minutes, but people fail to see the hours of preparation, planning and travel that go into a sixty minute show. Typically one sixty minute show = ten or more hours of preparation and travel.
But don’t worry, I’m well aware my job is still one thousand times easier that say a teacher, police officer or any job ever in the history of jobs. All I am trying to say is that there is a lot of mental prep that goes into this line of work. And it often manifests itself in the form of nervousness and anxiety. Any time I am confident in myself or my work and think, “I got this” it usually goes sour.
The blessing and the curse of live entertainment is that it is a living organism. No two shows are a like and you have to find the best way to ride out the wave.*
*Writing this on a cruise ship.