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How I approach a table

Of course, it's always going to difficult for me. I am socially disabled, so striking up any kind of interaction with folks I don't know is a very scary thing. Over the years, I have had to learn how to get over this issue and come up with ways in which to approach tables at gigs and break the ice. It's very difficult, but I tend to use the following methods -

I comment on something 'outside the circle'.

What do I mean by this? Well, imagine a table of maybe 5 or 6 people at a wedding reception. These people represent a circle in my mind. In order to approach these people and begin performing, I sometimes look for something I can comment on that exists outside this circle. An object on the table, an item of clothing or a particular food or drink for example.

It happened at a recent gig. As I was approaching a table of people, I spotted that a young man among them was wearing a rather zany tie. I'm genuinely interested in unusual clothing choices, so I simply went up to him and asked him where he got it, etc. That was it. That was all I needed to get started. I did a couple of tie jokes - such as the one shown in the video below ⬇️ - and everyone else at the table started laughing and engaging with my performance.

There are even times when I don't have to try very hard at all to approach a table, because 9 times out of 10 I'll get a voice from the table actually asking me for a trick. I usually forget that I am there for a reason, because people want me there, so obviously people are going to actually want to see some magic. Most of the time, it doesn't take much effort to get started.

Sometimes, I use an opening line or gag.

'Are you a magician?'

'Well, I try to be.'

That's my most common line when someone asks me that question. It usually gets a little laugh and I think it gives me that human edge. I tend to follow with something like -

'Yes, I'm the magician and I apologise in advance. They have a small budget and I'm all they could afford, so if you don't like the magic you can blame them.'

I quite like this opening gag. I heard it from an American magician and I've used it for several years. I like the idea of jokingly putting the blame on the person or people who booked me. It gets quite a good laugh.

Sometimes, I won't even say anything at all. People engage with anything visual, which is why a good visual gag can often come in handy. The one I use the most is picking up an empty wine glass from a table and pretending to inspect it. This, of course, gets people noticing. Who am I and what am I doing? As I make a move to replace the glass where I found it, the circular base suddenly falls to the table with a loud clang. As the audience gasps in surprise, I immediately pick up the base and screw it back on to the glass. It's a brilliant, visual gag that always gets a good reaction.

There are several great ways to approach a table and, I'm glad to say, each one works differently for different audiences.

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